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Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act

H.R. 1554 ( P.L. 106-113), the "Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act," prohibits the bad faith registration, trafficking in, or use of an Internet domain name that is identical to, or confusingly similar to, a distinctive trademark or service mark, or dilutive of a famous trademark or service mark. Personal names, protected as trademarks, are subject to the provisions. Civil remedies and damages are made available to aggrieved trademark owners, and an in rem civil action can be brought against a domain name if a responsible defendant is unavailable.

Section 3006 of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 (ACPA, or "anticybersquatting legislation") (Senate bill S. 1255, as incorporated into Public Law 106-113) directed the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation with the Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Election Commission, to conduct a study and report to Congress with recommendations on guidelines and procedures for resolving disputes involving personal names, the general subject of section 3002(b) of the ACPA.

The anticybersquatting legislation requested that the Department of Commerce consider and recommend guidelines and procedures for protecting personal names from:

(1) registration by another person as a domain name for the purposes of profiting from the sale or transfer of the domain name;

(2) bad faith uses of personal names as domain names by others with malicious intent to harm the reputation of the individual or the goodwill associated with the individual's name; or, 2

(3) use that is intended or likely to confuse or deceive the consumer as to the affiliation, connection, or association of the domain name registrant, or the domain name site with the individual.

In addition, the anticybersquatting legislation requested that the Department of Commerce consider and recommend guidelines and procedures for protecting the public from the registration of domain names that include personal names of government officials, official candidates and potential candidates for Federal, state or local political office, and the use of such domain names in a manner that disrupts the electoral process or the public's ability to access accurate and reliable information regarding such individuals.

The ACPA asked that the Department of Commerce consider not only the existing remedies at the Federal and state level, for example, trademark law, unfair competition law, and dilution law, but also the guidelines, procedure and policies of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the extent to which these existing remedies address congressional concern for the protection of personal names on the Internet.

In order to conduct that study, the Department of Commerce published on February 29, 2000, a Federal Register Notice and Request for Comments entitled "Abusive Domain Name Registrations Involving Personal Names; Request for Public Comments on Dispute Resolution Issues Relating to Section 3002(b) of the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act." That notice sought comments from interested members of the public on the resolution of Internet domain name disputes involving personal names. By notice published in the Federal Register on April 6, 2000, the Department of Commerce extended the period for public comment until April 21, 2000. Fourteen comments were received.

The report has been released and makes no new recommendations for guidelines and procedures and counsels legislative restraint at this time. The Department of Commerce believes that there is insufficient evidence as of this date to suggest that personal name holders lack redress when their names are abusively registered as Internet domain names. This report also concludes that the current work of the World Intellectual Property Organization being undertaken to explore and make recommendations concerning the bad faith registration of personal names will offer further clarification of these complex issues.

You can download the full report at:

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