Vanderbilt Law Review


John A. Greer

First Page



The desire to assume a false identity is one that transcends cultures and time periods. Even the most socially confident and successful person has, at some point, contemplated the possibility of changing or masking his or her identity-if only temporarily-with the hope of gaining some sort of competitive advantage. History and popular culture are replete with instances of such conduct, with varying degrees of success. One of the most famous historical examples, originating in Greek mythology, is the legend of the Trojan horse: the Greeks' surprise invasion of Troy using a hollow, wooden horse.

This same desire to gain a competitive edge by pretending to be someone else likely contributed, at least indirectly, to the advent of cybersquatting. Cybersquatting is "the act of reserving a domain name," and then "seeking to profit by selling or licensing the name to a company that has an interest in being identified with it." Cybersquatters depend upon "initial interest confusion," meaning that they hope their use of domain names that are similar or identical to well-known trademarks will be so confusing to the trademark holders' customers that the trademark holders will be forced to purchase the domain names from the cybersquatters. Cybersquatting and the problems associated with it highlight some of the most metaphysical questions surrounding legal problems in the Internet world. For example, what does it mean to have an "identity" in cyberspace? Which Brad Paisley is the real one: The short, insecure, overweight man who (in reality) drives a Hyundai, lives with his parents, and works in fast food, or the tall, debonair ladies' man who drives an Italian sports car? Also, what are the rules associated with property on the Internet? Where is a website "located"? Is it located on a server somewhere, or is its location tied to the place of its creation or impact? All or none of the above? These sorts of questions demonstrate the confusion and perceived lawlessness upon which cybersquatters have been able to capitalize.