Is it legal for an organization to purchase a domain name for my organization and redirect it to their site?

UPDATED: Sep 6, 2011

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Is it legal for an organization to purchase a domain name for my organization and redirect it to their site?

I work with a global health organization and we found a similar global health organization that purchased a domain with the name of our organization and redirected it to their site. We believe that this is fraud since it could be confusing to the consumer due to the similar nature of the 2 organizations. Is there anything we can do about this?

Asked on September 6, 2011 under Business Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I urge you to speak with an intellectual property attorney, preferably one with  "cybersquatting" experience. You *may* have a cause of action, but it depends on the exact circumstances, which is why a consultation with a laywer is so important.

It's been held in a number of cases that one party cannot "cybersquat" or otherwise fraudulently redirect web traffic from another entity to itself, to either confuse the marketplace and/or "extort" a payment to buy the webaddress. However, when a party is using a website which is legitimately connected to its business, that might not be improper. For example, say that you are the Global Health Agency and the other entity is the Global Health Advisor; let us postulate that they have legitimately been using that name and they did not come up with the name specifically to cause confusion, but rather this is simply the fact that there are only so many logical names for entities involved in world health--you both ended up with similar ones. In that case, their using www.gha.or or or etc. would probably be legitimate.

On the other hand, if the name of their organization is "International Medical Advisory," then if they suddently purchased the domain, that looks suspicious and could support a cause of action. The facts, in a case  like this, are all important.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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