The owners of Largo lawn service company Alexander's Property Maintenance discovered last year that a rival company in St. Petersburg had bought its Internet presence for $9.99.
The domain name "Alexanderpropertymaintenance.com" was purchased last summer by rival company Floridian Pest and Turf Management of St. Petersburg, which was redirecting traffic to its own Web site, Floridianpestandturf.com.
The reason for the purchase, said Dean Hall, owner of Floridian, was a financial dispute. The two companies, he said, used to be business partners. Floridian took care of the pest control, Alexander's, the grass cutting.
But the arrangement didn't go as planned, he said.
According to the lawsuit, the name-grab has cost Alexander customers.
"Alexander relies on search engines, such as Google, to generate business and increase sales by attracting new customers who learn of the company through Internet searches," the suit reads.
Hall said he has no intention of running his competitor out of business — he just wanted to "take a jab" at his former partner.
"It became more of a pain in the neck for me. Now I have to get my attorney," Hall said.
Representatives for Alexander's declined to comment.
Hall has since "parked" the Web site, which means that it is inactive and no longer directs traffic to his own page.
With the ability to cheaply buy Web sites via registrars such as GoDaddy.com, cybersquatting, taking Web properties that could be trademarks of others, has become another hazard on the business battlefield.
Karl Kronenberger, an Internet law attorney, said many cases involving businesses and cybersquatting come about simply because many people don't know what the rules are.
"Bear in mind that 25 percent of all traffic is type-in traffic, where people type in addresses directly into the address field. If someone purchases a domain name listing exactly their competitor's domain name, there is a chance traffic is re-directed," Kronenberger said.