How Long is Too Long to File a Cybersquatting Claim?

That’s a question that cropped up recently when the famous American chain store Trader Joe’s, known for its grocery stores situated across the States, lost a cybersquatting claim against the similarly named domain holder.

What happened?

They filed the dispute with WIPO – the World Intellectual Property Organization. Now, there is clearly only one letter difference between, the grocery chain, and, the domain name that caused the dispute.

The trouble was that the grocery chain didn’t file its complaint until some 25 years had passed since was originally registered. That happened in the last century, just about… in 1998.

And that appears to be the sticking point in this case.

What is the website about?

Despite what some might think, the owner of the domain originally bought it and set up the site to provide information about financial trading. He did so with the ‘average Joe’ in mind – a term most of you have likely heard of, even if you’re not American. And the site did have relevant content on it catering to this topic and audience.

So, it seems that while there’s a close association with the famous brand, does make some sense. We can certainly ponder whether the domain name registrant really did have financial trading in mind when he registered the name. He must have recognised the play on words connected to the brand name.

But the real sticking point here is the fact that it took Trader Joes a full 25 years before it registered the dispute against the name. Part of the evidence put forward in this case involved a screenshot from 1997, where the site did refer to the grocery chain stores by name. However, since this predated the domain registrant buying the domain name, it was connected to the previous owner and not the one they had brought the case against. gets to keep its name

One wonders how much traffic the financial trading information site gets resulting from mistyped searches. Of course, the audience searching for info about the grocery stores doesn’t overlap those looking for financial information. That said, we wonder how much benefit the site might glean from the name.

All told, the grocery store chain did lose the case, so the financial trading info site remains up and running, as it has for the past quarter of a century. The moral of this story is clearly to file a claim for cybersquatting as quickly as you can once you discover something like this. While it’s not likely to apply to most of us, it is a cautionary tale. Cybersquatting doesn’t appear to be the case here, but one wonders whether the grocery chain might make an offer to take control of the website. Any outcome of such an offer might depend on how well has done over the years… and what the current domain name owner might want to do with it in future. Watch this space.