Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act

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The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (also known as Truth in Domain Names Act), a United States federal law enacted in 1999, is part of A bill to amend the provisions of title 17, United States Code, and the Communications Act of 1934, relating to copyright licensing and carriage of broadcast signals by satellite (S. 1948). It makes people who register domain names that are either trademarks or individual's names with the sole intent of selling the rights of the domain name to the trademark holder or individual for a profit liable to civil action. It was sponsored by Senator Trent Lott on November 17, 1999, and enacted on November 29 of the same year. The ACPA is codified at 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d).


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One of the limitations of the Act is the impact on settling disputes: where two parties have a dispute over a domain name, and the domain name owner has a lesser interest in the domain and is willing to settle the dispute, if the domain name owner offers to exchange the domain name for compensation (such as the cost of reprinting letterhead, business cards, and other expenses), that offer can constitute "acting in bad faith to profit from the mark". This makes domain name disputes harder to resolve.

A significant provision of the Act enables trademark holders to bring lawsuits in rem (against the domain name), instead of against the registrant of the domain name. However, the in rem prong of the Act may only be invoked where the trademark holder is unable to obtain personal jurisdiction over the registrant or is unable to locate the registrant through good faith efforts specified in the Act (15 U.S.C. 1125(d)(2)(a)). Additionally, the in rem prong of the Act only authorizes recovery of the domain name; it does not permit the recovery of damages, costs, or attorneys' fees.

The act consists of several amendments to the Trademark Act of 1946 to provide protection from Cybersquatters to trademark holders, a section providing similar protections for individuals' names, an amendment to the National Historic Preservation Act (16 U.S.C. 470a(a)(1)(A)), protecting the names of historical sites. It also includes a savings clause stating that it does not take away from individuals' rights to free speech, and some amendments to the United States Code removing hyphens from several instances of the word trademark. Most of the act applies retroactively to all domain names, however the damages made possible by the act only apply to domain names registered after it was enacted.

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