Phil Lodico ⬥ 31 January
Things could be about to get real for Filipino cybersquatters. The Filipino Senate recently passed the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012. While still awaiting passage in the Filipino House of Representatives, the proposed legislation criminalizes cybersquatting, making it a “punishable act.” Those found guilty could face six to twelve years in prison, a fine of up to 500,000 Philippine pesos (the equivalent of about $11,600), or both.
That’s quite a contrast to the U.S.’s Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) of 1999. Although ACPA allows for the awarding of damages between $1,000 and $100,000 for cases involving willful cybersquatting, research by FairWinds in 2008 revealed that courts have rarely assessed damages at the upper end of this range. Accordingly, trademark holders prefer the relative ease and lower cost of recovering cybersquatted domains through the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), which only has the power to transfer or cancel domains, and therefore provides little deterrent to cybersquatters. The result? Just about anybody can register a domain that is identical or confusingly similar to a registered trademark with relative impunity.
If the Cybercrime Prevention Act passes, it will be interesting to see what happens to cybersquatting in the Philippines. As for the U.S., I suspect that the risk of twelve years behind bars would be enough to deter all but the boldest of cybersquatters.