Feb 17, 2016

Jeb Bush 'Trumped' in Domain Name Acquisition

In a blow to the Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush, it has been speculated that Donald Trump, the billionaire businessman and fellow front-runner in the presidential election may have acquired the domain name which belonged to Jeb Bush, www.jebbush.com.

If an online searcher visits this website, they will be re-directed to Trump's campaign website www.donaldjtrump.com The URL is redirecting site visitors to Mr. Trump's page and has been since at least December, according to WayBack Machine, which archives pages from the Internet.

Though this has been happening since December 2015, talks of the re-direction has picked up on Twitter on 16 February 2016.

Use of a domain name in such a way is often described as "cybersquatting" and involves a person registering a domain name that contains common words, an existing business name, celebrity connection or is similar. The new domain holder can use this to his advantage by re-directing online searchers to their business or website. Of course this term derives from "squatting", occupying a property without permission.

In the UK there are no specific cybersquatting laws but it is possible to take action using fraud laws and the Trade Marks Act 1994, in the case of trade mark infringement for example.

There is a US Federal law known as the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act which defines the act of cybersquatting as registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name in bad faith with an intention to profit from the goodwill that already exists in a trade mark which belongs to someone else, in this case, "JebBush.com".

In an attempt to dispel speculation, Trump campaign spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Wall Street Journal that the Trump Campaign is not involved in this redirect. In actual fact, the current owner of the domain name "JebBush.com" is unknown and is using a privacy domain service to stay unlisted by registrar 'Fabulous.com'.

The domain name was not hacked and the Bush campaign did not forget to renew the domain name in question and a spokesperson confirmed that the campaign website is www.Jeb2016.com. This domain name has been in use since the beginning of the campaign.

Mr Trump has also purchased domains with reference to his name. DonaldTrump.com redirects to Trump's campaign website of DonaldjTrump.com. DonaldTrump.org redirects to Trump.com, which is the website of the Trump organisation.

If you are affected by cybersquatting or similar type issues do not hesitate to contact McDaniel & Co. on 0191 2814000 or email legal@mcdanielslaw.com

in: Digital/Tech, News, Trade Marks

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