A US-based legal firm expects legal conflicts over Internet domains to spike this year, partly due to Chinese "cybersquatters," a tech site reported this week.
PC World quoted legal firm Sweet & Maxwell as saying the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) had adjudicated 2,944 disputes from January to July 2012 alone. Rise in disputes
This was six percent more than the 2,775 disputes in the same period last year, PC World quoted the law firm's Domain Names: Global Practice and Procedure report as saying.
"Businesses need to be aware that squatters are actively searching for domain names they can register. They then attempt to hold businesses to ransom, or in some cases, sell fake goods using the brand. The number of alleged squatters in China is on the rise, contributing significantly to the global growth," it quoted John Olsen, a partner of law firm Edwards Wildman who edited the report, as saying.
The study found individuals can also be targeted, as in the case of an Australian who tried to register a porn domain in the name of British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.
Luxury goods are biggest targets
PC World quoted the law firm's report as saying big brands, especially luxury goods companies, remain the main target.
It said fashion retailer Gucci had contested more than 100 domains in six legal cases for this year alone.
Austrian brand Swarovski had brought and won 32 cases since 2010, while Armani, Burberry, Cartier and Dior were included in the list.
The report said all the cybersquatted domains in the Gucci dispute had been registered in China, appearing to bring traffic to fake goods.
Also, PC World said the report indicated cases involving Chinese goods had doubled since 2009 though US registrations still generate the largest number of disputes.
PC World said another possible cause for the rise in disputes was the willingness of firms to take legal action against cybersquatters.
PC World added that, before and during the London Olympics, domains connected to many well-known medal winners were also reportedly registered through Chinese companies.
"In most cases of celebrity cybersquatting, the motivation is to demand money from the individual," it said. — TJD, GMA News