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Domain Name Disputes and Cyber-squatting in Bangladesh: Legal Remedies and Resolution

Updated: Sep 17, 2023




With the advancement of technology and the internet, domain names have become a valuable commodity for businesses and individuals alike. However, with this increased value of domain comes the potential for domain name disputes and cyber-squatting. Domain name disputes refer to conflicts over the registration, ownership, or use of a domain name by two or more parties. Cyber-squatting, on the other hand, involves the registration of a domain name in bad faith to profit from the goodwill of a trademark or brand.


In Bangladesh, domain name disputes and cyber-squatting have become increasingly common in recent years. This paper will explore the legal remedies and resolutions available to parties involved in domain name disputes and cyber-squatting in Bangladesh. Additionally, scenarios and examples will be provided to illustrate the issues faced by parties involved in these disputes, and how lawyers can assist in resolving them.



Domain Name Disputes in Bangladesh


Domain name disputes in Bangladesh can arise in a number of ways. One common scenario involves the registration of a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to an existing trademark or brand. This can lead to confusion among consumers, who may mistakenly believe that the website associated with the domain name is affiliated with or endorsed by the trademark owner.


Another scenario involves the registration of a domain name that incorporates a geographic location or cultural symbol, without permission from the relevant authorities. This can be particularly problematic in Bangladesh, where certain cultural symbols and landmarks are considered sacred or culturally significant.


Legal Remedies for Domain Name Disputes in Bangladesh


In Bangladesh, the primary legal remedy for domain name disputes is through the court system. The relevant law governing domain names in Bangladesh is the Information and Communication Technology Act 2006 (ICT Act). Under this law, a party can file a civil suit against the owner of a domain name for infringement of intellectual property rights or for passing off.


To succeed in a domain name dispute, the plaintiff must demonstrate that they have a valid and subsisting intellectual property right in the name or mark that is being infringed. This can be established through trademark registration or by proving common law rights in the name or mark.


Once the plaintiff has established their rights in the name or mark, they must then demonstrate that the domain name in question is identical or confusingly similar to their mark and that the defendant has registered or is using the domain name in bad faith. This can be a challenging task, as it requires a careful analysis of the domain name, the plaintiff's mark, and the defendant's intentions.


If the court finds in favour of the plaintiff, they may be awarded damages for any losses suffered as a result of the infringement, as well as an injunction preventing the defendant from using the domain name in question.


Scenario: A Bangladeshi textile company, "ABC Textiles," has been using the domain name www.abctextiless.com for several years. A competitor, "XYZ Textiles," registers the domain name www.abctextiless.com, with the intention of diverting traffic to their own website. ABC Textiles files a civil suit against XYZ Textiles for trademark infringement and passing off.


Lawyer's role: The lawyer representing ABC Textiles would need to demonstrate that ABC Textiles has a valid and subsisting trademark in the name "ABC Textiles," and that XYZ Textiles' domain name is confusingly similar to ABC Textiles' mark. The lawyer would also need to establish that XYZ Textiles registered the domain name in bad faith, with the intention of profiting from the goodwill of ABC Textiles' mark. If successful, the lawyer could secure damages for ABC Textiles, as well as an injunction preventing XYZ Textiles from using the domain name in question.



Cyber-squatting in Bangladesh


Cyber-squatting is a common problem in Bangladesh, particularly with the rise of e-commerce and online business. Cyber-squatters often register domain names that incorporate the names of well-known brands or trademarks, with the intention of selling the domain name to the rightful owner at an inflated price.


Cyber-squatting can also involve the registration of domain names that are intentionally misspelled or that include additional words or phrases in an attempt to profit from the popularity of a particular brand or product.


Legal Remedies for Cyber-squatting in Bangladesh


In Bangladesh, the legal remedies available to victims of cyber-squatting are similar to those available in domain name disputes. Under the ICT Act, a party can file a civil suit for trademark infringement or pass it off against the owner of a domain name that is being used in bad faith.


Additionally, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has the power to cancel or suspend a domain name registration if it is found to have been registered in bad faith. The BTRC may also impose fines on cyber-squatters and revoke their license to operate as a domain name registrar.


Scenario: A well-known Bangladeshi fashion brand, "Fashionissta," discovers that the domain name www.fassionissta.com has been registered by a cyber-squatter. The cyber-squatter is attempting to sell the domain name to Fashionista at an inflated price.


Lawyer's role: The lawyer representing Fashionissta would need to demonstrate that Fashionissta has a valid and subsisting trademark in the name "Fashionissta," and that the cyber-squatters domain name is identical or confusingly similar to Fashionissta's mark. The lawyer would also need to establish that the cyber-squatter registered the domain name in bad faith, with the intention of profiting from Fashionissta's trademark. If successful, the lawyer could seek a court order requiring the transfer of the domain name to Fashionissta, as well as damages for any losses suffered as a result of the cyber-squatting.



How Lawyers Can Help


Lawyers can play an important role in resolving domain name disputes and cyber-squatting cases in Bangladesh. Some of the ways in which lawyers can assist include:


1. Conducting a Trademark Search: Before registering a domain name or pursuing legal action against a domain name registrant, it is important to conduct a trademark search to determine whether the name or mark in question is already in use. Lawyers can assist in conducting a thorough search and analyzing the results to determine the strength of the trademark.


2. Drafting Legal Notices: Lawyers can assist in drafting legal notices to send to domain name registrants who are infringing on a trademark or engaging in cyber-squatting. These notices may include cease and desist letters, demand letters, or warning letters, depending on the circumstances of the case.


3. Filing Civil Suits: If legal notices are not successful in resolving the dispute, lawyers can file civil suits on behalf of their clients. This may involve gathering evidence, preparing pleadings and affidavits, and presenting the case in court.


4. Negotiating Settlements: In some cases, it may be possible to resolve domain name disputes and cyber-squatting cases through settlement negotiations. Lawyers can assist in negotiating settlements that protect their client's rights and interests while avoiding the time and expense of a trial.



Conclusion


Domain name disputes and cyber-squatting are becoming increasingly common in Bangladesh and can have serious consequences for businesses and individuals. However, there are legal remedies and resolutions available to parties involved in these disputes, including civil suits, legal notices, and settlement negotiations.


Lawyers can play an important role in resolving these disputes, by conducting trademark searches, drafting legal notices, filing civil suits, and negotiating settlements. By working closely with their clients and providing sound legal advice.

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