Microsoft Goes After 'Typosquatters'

  |  August 23, 2006   |  Comments

Redmond launches a legal offensive against those it says are infringing on its brands and trademarks.


Microsoft has filed several civil lawsuits against those it says are infringing on its brands and trademarks by registering domain names intended to capture mistyped URLs -- and then selling ads against them.

The company filed two civil lawsuits against four named defendants and another “John Doe” lawsuit against 217 defendants in an effort to unmask those who have anonymously registered domain names containing its brands and products. Three of the alleged squatters identified in the suit are Jason Cox of Albuquerque, New Mexico; Daniel Giggins of Proto, Utah; and John Jonas of Springville, Utah. Together, the company says, the three men illegally registered 324 domain names targeting its trademarks.

Microsoft is also trying to block online auctions that traffic in misspelled versions of its own domain by patrolling domain auctioning sites and approaching their operators when its trademarks appear for bidding.

Registering domain names with trademarked terms, with the intent to profit from them, is illegal under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), a federal law that came into effect in 1999. The wording states that anyone who "registers, traffics in or uses a domain name that is... identical to, confusingly similar or dilutive of" existing trademarks is punishable by law.

Microsoft has been a particularly appealing target for the squatters, but is not the only corporation to be exploited. Pepsi, Boeing and the U.S. Army have also had their domains parroted.

The company first noticed the upsurge in domain names containing its trademarked terms during an existing anti-phishing "Domain Defense Program," operated in conjunction with strategic partner Internet Identity.

"While cybersquatting had been considered by most a nuisance issue, recently the stakes have gone up, as pay-per-click advertising has allowed for an explosion of websites to drive that traffic monetization," said Rod Rasmussen, Internet Identity's director of operations. "This is causing brand erosion, customer confusion, and trademark dilution on a much wider scale and is starting to get some serious attention from brand holders."

Rasmussen expects that the lawsuits will at least deter squatters from illegally using Microsoft trademarks, but he cautions, "There is also the 'hungry bear' effect... You don't have to be faster than the hungry bear chasing you, just the other guy next to you. Same principle applies here. If one company is tough on squatters, they're a much less desirable target and will see fewer infractions. Yet another consideration is that in the arcane world of trademark law, defending your marks is actually required in order to ensure you don't lose them."

ClickZ Live New York What's New for 2015?
You spoke, we listened! ClickZ Live New York (Mar 30-Apr 1) is back with a brand new streamlined agenda. Don't miss the latest digital marketing tips, tricks and tools that will make you re-think your strategy and revolutionize your marketing campaigns. Super Saver Rates are available now. Register today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

ClickZ Today is our #1 newsletter.
Get a daily dose of digital marketing.

COMMENTS

UPCOMING EVENTS

UPCOMING TRAINING

Featured White Papers

Google My Business Listings Demystified

Google My Business Listings Demystified
To help brands control how they appear online, Google has developed a new offering: Google My Business Locations. This whitepaper helps marketers understand how to use this powerful new tool.

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line

5 Ways to Personalize Beyond the Subject Line
82 percent of shoppers say they would buy more items from a brand if the emails they sent were more personalized. This white paper offer five tactics that will personalize your email beyond the subject line and drive real business growth.

WEBINARS

    Information currently unavailable

Jobs

    • Lead Generation Specialist
      Lead Generation Specialist (The Oxford Club) - BaltimoreThe Oxford Club is seeking a talented writer/marketer to join our growing email lead-generation...
    • Health Marketing Editor
      Health Marketing Editor (Agora Inc.) - BaltimoreCome flex your intellectual muscle as part of Agora, Inc’s (http://agora-inc.com/) legal team...
    • Technical Business Analyst
      Technical Business Analyst (OmniVista Health) - BaltimoreOmniVista Health is looking to add a Technical Business Analyst to our expanding team...