US govt passes cybersquatting bill

The US House of Representatives has approved a bill designed to end the practice of registering the names of companies, famous individuals or popular trademarks as internet domain names and holding them until that company or individual pays to have them released.

Dubbed the anti-cybersquatting bill, the measure must return to the Senate for approval of amendments but is on track to be sent to the president by Christmas, according to government officials.

Grayson Wolfe, legislative aide to Republican James Rogan, said the bill had received tremendous support from corporations, actors and others who haven't been able to use their trademarks in their Web addresses because someone else registered them first.

The German automaker Porsche is an example of a company that has had to contend with the problem, according to Wolfe, who added that there are hundreds of cybersquatters holding variations of the company's name.

Under the bill, a court would have 11 criteria for determining whether the person or company that registered the name first acted in bad faith when it registered, Wolfe said.

The bill also orders the Department of Commerce to create another level of domain names for members of Congress, the president and candidates for office to help protect them from losing use of their names to cybersquatters. Wolfe said ".us" has been suggested as the domain name, but the bill leaves the decision up to the department.

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