I just got off the phone with MarkMonitor, a company that according to the fellow I spoke with is hired by multi-national corporations to register and squat on domain names in the interest of brand security. I was calling them to inquire about a specific domain name that they had registered -- a domain that was simply an ad page. I was hoping to use that domain for a little project, but I was told that in order to even inquire about the potential availability of the domain, I would have to have my attorney contact them directly, and then go through a process that might take a few months before finding out if I might have the privilege to buy the domain on their terms. I asked him if he saw any problem with this, and he went on a brief tirade about protecting brand identity, and then roughly slammed the phone down, hanging up on me. Great sales tactic, no?
In some cases, the practice of registering domains that aren't intended for use is legitimate -- someone registering dell.org, delll.com, and putting anti-Dell information there -- or worse, a copy of Dell's website -- could be potentially damaging to Dell, and they have a right to protect themselves in those instances. They are also protecting against someone registering a domain that's close to theirs and essentially blackmailing them into buying it for lots of money. This is what MarkMonitor.com supposedly does, but since I was yelled at and hung up on by their own sales staff, I never got the full details.
The domain that I was inquiring about had no relation to any ad campaigns, corporations, or otherwise. It didn't redirect to a legitimate site, or offer anything useful -- it's simply parked on an ad page. It was being squatted on by a company in the hopes that someone would come along and buy it for some ridiculous price -- essentially exactly what companies like MarkMonitor.com claim to protect against. Variations on the name using hyphens and other small changes produced similar parking pages, but squatted by different companies.
Thus, instead of a domain that could be used to host useful tools or interesting information, it holds nothing of value to anyone. It doesn't infringe on any trademarks, it's essentially been relegated to the trash bin -- of no use to anyone. This isn't brand protection, it's glorified ticket scalping.
I do find it rather amusing that the company running the parking page has a website that hits a Drupal "Database Error" page as of this writing (www.firstlook.com).