Group seeks tougher laws against Internet fraud

Dell, Yahoo and Marriott International are lobbying Congress for tougher laws targeting online scammers who profit from their brand names, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said the group, called the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, hired the law firm Alston and Bird to persuade federal lawmakers of the need to crack down against those who claim web addresses, or domain names, that include, or even resemble, a legitimate company's trademark.

The Associated Press report said the coalition estimates that so-called cybersquatting costs companies worldwide more than $1 billion annually in diverted customer sales and enforcement expenses.

In the past, Internet speculators claimed famous-sounding or popular domain names in the hopes of selling them to corporations for thousands or millions of dollars. They also purchased Web domain names that sounded like a popular company as a way to quickly generate traffic and sell online advertising.

But the coalition says scammers increasingly employ cybersquatting to sell counterfeit goods, secretly install malicious software on computers or dupe customers into providing personal data through, hurting both companies and their customers, the report said.

Both the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI's cyber division said that under existing laws cybersquatting, in and of itself, is not necessarily a crime.

Dell says it sees 500 new infringements of its brand name each month. Citing a report by MarkMonitor, a brand-protection firm, the group said cybersquatting grew by 248% in the past year, the report said.

Fighting cybersquatting has become more difficult, companies said.