Cybersquatting is one of the internet threats faced by individuals conducting business activities in Poland and abroad. The victim can be either a Polish or foreign entity.
In Poland, cybersquatting involves the purchase of domains by Polish entities with the intention of later selling them at a significantly higher price. Cybercriminals search the internet for unregistered domains that may have significant economic value for specific businesses. These domain names may sometimes be identical to existing trademarks, differing only in the extension, such as .net, .com, .com.pl, .eu, or .pl.
The domain name may also evoke associations with a particular company or its product. Cybercriminals attempt to mislead users, for example, through typosquatting, which involves registering domains with typos, spelling mistakes, or additional punctuation marks.
The goal of this activity is to intimidate the affected entity, which, in order to regain the ability to register and use the internet domain, is forced to pay the cybercriminal an exorbitant amount.
A prominent example of cybersquatting is the case of a Polish company from Łódź, which operated under the name Microsoft and was involved in the sale of herbs. In 2021, the company registered two domains on the internet: microsoft.pl and microsoft.com.pl. As a result, it faced a legal action by Microsoft, the American IT industry giant. Ultimately, due to a court decision, the Łódź-based company lost the right to use the specified domains.
According to Polish law, cybersquatting involves misleading about the identity of a business, as stated in Article 5 of the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition. Cybersquatters may also be accused of hindering access to the market and using advertising that obstructs market access (see: Article 15 and Article 16 of the Polish Act on Combating Unfair Competition).
To avoid falling victim to cybersquatting, it is advisable to register the name of your domain as a trademark in Poland or as a European Union trademark. In such a case, the owner gains the right to exclusive use of the name, based on which they can demand the removal of an internet domain created by a cyber pirate.
If you have already fallen victim to cybersquatting, first try to contact the domain owner and request the removal of the website, citing the Act on Combating Unfair Competition. If this does not help, you can seek your rights before alternative dispute resolution tribunals – in Poland, these include the Arbitration Court for Internet Domains at the Polish Chamber of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and the Arbitration Court at the Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw.
For domains ending with .eu, one can enforce their rights before the Arbitration Court in Prague – the mediation proceedings will take place in the Polish language. Cybersquatting concerning domains with the .com extension requires initiating a process with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Furthermore, companies should regularly monitor the Polish internet to check if their brand is being misused. There are tools and services that can assist in this process by automatically tracking new domain registrations and alerting brand owners to potential issues.
CONTACT US FOR MORE INFORMATION
E-mail: [email protected]
Mobile WhatsApp 24/7: + 48 668 841 990
Trademark in Poland