Cyber Squatters Target Emaar Development

DUBAI — Internet domain names relating to the King Abdullah Economic City project in Saudi Arabia are being sold on eBay for as much as Dh2.2 million.

By Martin Croucher

Published: Tue 1 Dec 2009, 12:33 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 9:04 PM

Cyber squatters have snapped up a clutch of domain names related to the Dh293 billion Emaar project before they could be registered by the developer and are selling them at a premium.

Philipp Redeker, a German national who is selling the domain names online, said there was little risk that the developer would take legal action.

“The sites and the names have no copyright,” he said. “I talked to my advocate before I invested in them.

“I am sure that they will become more expensive and maybe the most expensive ever. The day will come where the property owner will be forced to buy these sites.” Emaar was unavailable for comment on Sunday. However in a previous statement the company said it will crackdown on cyber squatters.

“Holding domain names containing elements of our trademarks is a violation of our Intellectual Property rights and Emaar Properties will initiate legal action against cyber-squatters,” the statement said.

At issue is the matter of whether the 13 domain names registered by Redeker – which include – constitute a trademark violation. The correct name of the development is King Abdullah Economic City. According to Harriet Balloch, an associate specialising in intellectual property at Dubai law firm Clyde & Co, the domain name could be claimed back by the developer through WIPO’s domain name resolution service.

“In disputes, the first test is to determine whether it has a ‘confusing similarity’ to the trademark. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, as long as it contains elements of the trademark.

“The second is whether he is using it in bad faith. If he is just buying it to sell on, then it is a straight-forward process.” It costs around Dh3,600 to take a claim through WIPO’s dispute resolution centre, which can result in a transfer of the registered domain name back to the trademark owner.

However, a smaller number of companies take the matter through the courts, although it is often significantly more expensive and time consuming.

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