Facebook Filed A Lawsuit Against A Chinese Cybersquatter

Like any other domain name Instagram had a long history behind. The domain was first registered on June 24, 2004, but wasn’t launched until 2010. When it was bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1billion nobody would have thought today will value $327,150,360,00. All the popularity came after it began as business.


Facebook has recently sued a Chinese cybersquatter who went back on one’s word on the deal made five years ago where instagram.com was purchased for $100,000. The legal action sustains that a well known family of cybersquatters, from Guangdong, tried to make the Chinese court to quash the purchase. Facebook expected the court to declare that the purchase was fully legal and stop the family of cybersquatters from having the control over the domain name.


When the photo-sharing app launched it was used the domain instragr.am.  


At the beginnings instagram.com was in the possesion of an US domain investor and a month later it passed in hands of Zhou Weiming, who has a complicated family. According to Facebook he was the relative of four people that it sued: three kids and a wife.


With Zhou acquiring the domain name, so the popularity came, reaching the million mark in December 2010. A month before the release, Instagram addressed for the US trademark on its name. In January 2011, Facebook decided to spend $100,000 for the domain.


In the same period of time, the whois information for instagram.com shifted for Zhou’s daughter, Zhou Murong, keeping the registrant email address intact, through Sedo.


According to the company’s complaint, Zhou Murong’ s mother and sisters are taking legal actions against her and Instagram in China, saying she has no authority to make this sell. To continue this situation, the company sustains the Chinese process is a fake and the family is playing a role.


To end this, Facebook expects that California court determines the sale valid and the registrar, MarkMonitor, do not transfer the domain to the family. The company won a 22 domain UDRP case before Murong Zhou, concerning the typos of its Instagram trademark.


Number Domain Name Date of registration
1 instagr.com October 13, 2010
2 instagam.com October 20, 2010
3 instagra.com October 20, 2010
4 instaram.com October 20, 2010
5 istagram.com October 23, 2010
6 instagrm.com November 5, 2010
7 instagram.net November 6, 2010
8 instgram.com November 9, 2010
9 intagram.com November 22, 2010
10 instangram.com December 4, 2010
11 instragram.com December 4, 2010
12 wwwinstagram.com December 4, 2010
13 insagram.com December 4, 2010
14 instagran.com December 22, 2010
15 instargram.com December 22, 2010
16 nstagram.com December 22, 2010
17 instagram.co December 22, 2010
18 graminsta.com January 14, 2011
19 instegram.com January 14, 2011
20 lnstagram.com January 14, 2011
21 minstagram.com January 14, 2011
22 winstagram.com January 14, 2011


Another case of cybersquatting was TeachBook.com, which it is a social networking website for teachers. Besides cybersquatting, Facebook filed a trademark violation process.


The second biggest single UDRP case filed by Facebook was against the same domainer, Mike Mann, for domains like: aboutfacebook.com, facebookbabes.com, facebookcheats.com, facebookclub.com, facebookdevelopment.com or killfacebook.com. Mike Mann is the co-founder of BuyDomains and one of the former holders of sex.com.

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