As the Internet flourishes, scores of Internet profiteers and disgruntled ex-employees are rushing to claim Web site addresses ("domain names") of companies and then turning around and attempting to sell the addresses back to the companies.
Advice: Don't pay such a ransom to secure your company's domain names. Take those Internet pirates to court. The federal Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) gives you the right to sue anyone who registers a domain name similar to another party's with the intent to profit.
Recent case: A Ford employee registered the Web address, www.fordworld.com, which corresponded to the name of the company's employee newspaper. The employee sent an e-mail to Ford executives saying he had offers from various sources for the registered domain but wanted to "extend an opportunity" to Ford to buy the domain first.
Ford sued the employee, claiming he tried to profit from the sale of a domain name identical to a company trademark. A district court sided with Ford, and a federal appeals court agreed. (Ford Motor Co. v. Catalanotte, No. 02-1237, 6th Cir., 2003)
Final tip: To prevent such problems, identify potentially valuable domain names as early as possible, and then register them in your corporate name. You can further secure your domain name rights through provisions in employment contracts or severance pacts.