When wine.com and business.com sold for a record-breaking $2.9 and $7.5 million, respectively, at the height of the dot-com bubble, a growing number of people saw an investment opportunity which we’ve come to know as cybersquatting. In fact, a brand-jacking report released by MarkMonitor this spring shows that the practice has grown by approximately 40% in the last year alone into a multi-million dollar industry.

Despite the apparent lawlessness, a legal framework does exist to protect genuine trademark owners. However, the opportunity cost involved in pursuing a domain name dispute often outweighs what most businesses are willing to invest in their presence on the Internet, let alone the risk of losing a dispute to a legal loophole. Some famous disputes that have made the news in recent years include nissan.com and PETA.org.

Prevalent as it may have been in the rest of the world, cybersquatting hadn’t quite made it to the Middle East until word of Dubai’s growing prosperity began to make the headlines in 2003. For example, Sama Dubai – a leading real estate company and television channel in the UAE have their domain name held to ransom with a rumored seven figure US$ asking price. One among the fortunate few who got away with a bargain is Dubai’s first low cost carrier – Fly Dubai, whose domain name appears to have been sold for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.