Many businesses have learned the hard way that it can be challenging to get their preferred domain if it is owned by another party. People often blame this on cyber-squatters, but the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA) has said that there is a difference between cyber-squatting and domain speculation.
“Cyber-squatting (also known as domain squatting) generally implies a bad faith intent on the part of the registrant, for example, deliberately registering mybroadband.web.za just to sell it to MyBroadband,” explained ISPA.
“Domain speculation is the registration of potentially useful domains without intending to block an existing brand or trademark, for example registering a generic broadband.web.za and then offering it for sale.”
ISPA said that domain speculation is an acceptable practice in most jurisdictions, and there is usually an established dispute resolution process to protect people from cybersquatting. “This process is generally cheaper and faster than normal legal proceedings,” said ISPA.
In South Africa, there is an Alternative Dispute Resolution available for CO.ZA domains. “It is administered by the .ZA Domain Name Authority, and includes a financial assistance program for people who might not otherwise be able to pay to resolve a domain dispute,” said ISPA.
The ISP association added that although it receives a significant number of public queries involving domain names, most of these fall outside of its jurisdiction.
“ISPA does encourage its members to register all domains in the name of their clients, rather than in the name of the ISP. This offers much stronger protection to the domain holder in the event of a dispute,” said ISPA.