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Domain Grabbing & Cybersquatting: Differences and Legal Consequences

Since domain grabbing usually does not violate naming rights or trademark regulations, entrepreneurs usually try to oppose the occupation of coveted domain names competition law claims to fight back. However, domain registration is only considered a competition infringement if domain grabbing is used to obtain a Targeted hindering of competitors. However, it is difficult to prove such abusive behavior in practice. Especially since domain names are viewed in German courts as classic economic goods that can be freely traded. Simply registering a domain name with the intention of reselling it lucratively does not constitute unfair competition.

A prominent domain grabbing exampleThat received a lot of media attention is the domain name litigationkettenzü before the Leipzig Regional Court (judgment of November 24, 2005, Az .: 05 O 2142/05. The reason for the legal dispute was the registration of the domain name kettenzü by the defendant. This secured the Internet address in March 2005 and one month later offered it to the plaintiff for purchase - a global company for chain hoists in the trade fair sector that has owned the domain for years took advantage of. This turned down the purchase offer and instead sued with the aim of using the domain kettenzü to prohibit in business dealings and to obtain a release of the.

The District Court Leipzig decided, however, that neither a legal name claim according to § 12 BGB nor a trademark protection according to § 5 MarkenG existed, since the plaintiff did not use the domain as a business name, but only as an address. In addition, the court dismissed claims from the law against unfair competition due to targeted hindrance, as only the occupation of the domain kettenzü by the defendant does not prevent the plaintiff from flourishing in the market.

This ruling was groundbreaking as it was the first to officially confirm that Domain grabbing not punishable is, as long as it only concerns general generic terms and no rights of third parties are violated.