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ICANN Adopts Cybersquatting Policy

After preliminarily endorsing anti-cybersquatting tactics at its May board meeting, the Internet Corp. for Assigned Names and Numbers adopted resolutions to prohibit cybersquatting at this week's board meeting in Santiago, Chile.

Based on recommendations submitted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), ICANN Thursday approved a procedure that prohibits people who register a popular Internet address -- usually a company name -- with the intent of selling it to its rightful owner.

The policy "seeks to define and minimize reverse domain name hijacking" by cancelling or transferring to the proper owner a domain name that was registered in "bad faith" -- either with the intent to sell or mislead consumers looking for another site.

ICANN said it would solicit public feedback on the policy before implementation. It is expected to take effect within 45 days.

Domain name disputes have been occurring with more frequency as the Internet grows, and so far there is no real legislation prohibiting it, save for trademark laws. Not all disputes are easy cases of trademark infringement, though, and those in the industry have been debating how to resolve the issue.

In addition to the ICANN policy, the U.S. Congress has taken up the issue. In June, Sen. Spencer Abraham, a Michigan Republican, introduced to Congress the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. This bill, if enacted, would make cybersquatting illegal. Violators would be charged a fine of up to $300,000.