World Intellectual Property Organization denies Nintendo’s ‘domain squatting’ complaint

July 1, 2013 6:40 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

When businesses are about to release a new flagship product, they need to make sure they own the web domain name well in advance. Otherwise, someone else may acquire it first.

Japanese video game company Nintendo recently learned this lesson the hard way.

In June, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) denied the company's request to take away from the current owners, who are not affiliated with Nintendo.

When Nintendo announced its most recent home gaming console, the Wii U, in 2011, a few observers were surprised to learn the the company had not yet purchased the domain name to help promote the device. This didn't change when the Wii U was released in November 2012, either. In fact, according to a report on, people who searched for at the time ended up being redirected to a web site.

Finally, In February, Nintendo accused the current owners of "domain squatting." This term refers to the practice of buying domain names that are the same or virtually identical to popular products and services and attempting to profit off the influx of users who end up on these websites. Though illegal in the U.S., thanks to the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, the practice is notoriously hard to prosecute, since it is so easy to buy domain names.

Though reported that the case seemed like a "slam dunk" for Nintendo, the WIPO clearly thought otherwise. Now, the only way Nintendo will be able to use will be to purchase the domain name—likely for a substantial sum of money.

Though this is not an uncommon mistake, it can be avoided. Companies seeking to protect their intellectual property should seek the advice of a Phoenix small business attorney before releasing new products.

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