A new study by MarkMonitor finds that cybersquatting and other abuses against big companies with well-known brands are on the rise.

The biggest problem for the companies, at least given the overall number of incidents, is cybersquatting. It's the unauthorized use of a trademarked name or phrase in a Web domain pointing to a Web site that isn't owned by the trademark holder. MarkMonitor found more than 286,000 instances of cybersquatting for the 25 brands it studied?an average of 11,400 instances each. The data was collected during a four-week period starting Mar. 9 and ending Apr. 6 and was averaged over that period. If MarkMonitor's numbers, collected in what it has dubbed "The Brandjacking Index," are on the money, the scale of the problem alone is astonishing.

Clearly, cybersquatting is on the rise, and so are the number of domain-name registration disputes. The World Intellectual Property Organization, the global body that arbitrates such disputes, says its caseload jumped by 25% in 2006. Even so, it received only 1,823 complaints last year, the highest since 2000. That number suggests that WIPO in an entire year is likely to receive complaints on less than 1% of the domains hijacked in a single four-week span tracked by MarkMonitor.

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