Typos–The Web’s Dirty Little Secret

International financial services firm Citigroup filed a lawsuit alleging that a pornographic Web site business was wrongfully using its Citibank subsidiary’s trademarked name to direct users to X-rated advertisements.

The suit was filed against Seattle-based Internet Entertainment Group, which designs and sells advertising on pornographic sites, according to a Reuters report. Those sites include clubanytime.com, clublove.com and yourslut.com. Another defendant in the suit is Rafael Fortuny, an IEG franchisee in Miami.

The defendants are accused of infringing on the Citibank trademark by using the Web address “wwwcitibank.com,” without the period after the three w’s.

Citibank has maintained a Web site at “www.citibank.com” since 1995. If Citibank customers mistakenly omit the period after the three w’s they sent to the defendants’ Web site clubanytime.com. We tried (just for grins) omitting the period and got a “server down” message. Your mileage may vary.

Web sites maintained by IEG offer free “tours” of the type of pornographic material available through the company’s subscription and pay-per-view services. IEG also sells sites to franchisees, who receive a pornographic Web site at a unique Internet address. IEG updates the content of the sites and processes the billing, the suit said.

The suit alleged that Fortuny, an IEG franchisee, registered the name “wwwcitibank.com” in March. Citigroup said based on information from Network Solutions, Fortuny has allegedly registered more than 50 other names seeking to capitalize on common typographical errors made by Internet users seeking to reach well-known businesses, including Barnes and Noble, NASDAQ, AMEX and the New York Times.

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