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CitizenHawk patents its typo recovery business model

October 16, 2012citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & LawComments Off on CitizenHawk patents its typo recovery business model

An in-depth look at CitizenHawk’s business model.

Brand protection company CitizenHawk has been granted a patent that broadly covers its business model of recovering typo domain names on behalf of clients and then monetizing them.

The U.S. patent basically explains the company’s entire business model from start to end; at least what the model was at the time it filed its patent.

If you want to know exactly how it goes about discovery, categorizing, and recovering domain names, you should read the entire patent (pdf). But here’s a summary.

First, CitizenHawk signs up a web brand as a customer. (CitizenHawk submitted a copy of its contract with Lillian Vernon as an example.)

Then its software goes to work, identifying possible typos of the client’s domain names. It then analyzes each typo including who owns it, how they are monetizing it (it even grabs affiliate IDs if the domains are monetized through affiliate programs), etc. It collects as much evidence and information about the domains as possible including their IP addresses, screenshots, etc.

Next, the system determines which typos might get a high volume of traffic. It checks this data against information about the domain owner to determine which domains to go after and how to do it.

For example, the system might determine that 10 Lillian Vernon typo’s are high traffic and are owned by the same person. It might piece this information together even if the whois information on each domain is different.

Then there’s a process to determine the best way to recover the domains. If the owner has cooperated with Citizenhawk in the past then they might just request the domains. The system could also determine that filing a UDRP is a good route.

If a UDRP is in order, the system automatically collects much of the evidence and arguments needed for the UDRP and puts in in a template (which can sometimes go awry).

Once a domain is recovered, Citizenhawk monetizes the domain name and takes a cut of the earnings. This is one reason they are keen to get clients who have affiliate programs; once they recover a domain they can monetize the traffic through the affiliate program for a period of time and earn revenue. The patent also mentions that the company can be paid based on the traffic the domain receives (e.g. CPC or CPV).

Here’s how the patent describes this post-recovery monetization. (Customer’s representative refers to CitizenHawk in this case.)

For instance, suppose the customer’s representative recovers the typo domain aeroopostale (a typo derivation of the trademarked term Aeropostale). Upon transfer of the domain by the cybersquatter to customer’s representative’s chosen registrar, such as, GoDaddy, Inc., the WhoIs record for the domain can be updated to reflect Aeropostale-approved data. Additionally, the DNS information for aeroopostale may be updated to reflect customer’s representative’s names servers. Subsequent or following the name server change to reflect customer’s representative’s name servers, customer database 140 may be updated to reflect that the domain has been recovered (See FIG. 4; stage classification drop down) and a new redirect URL can be added.

One example of monetization by the customer’s representative could be CPA fees. Should a visitor purchase an item using a redirect link, customer’s representative may be entitled to a commission on the value of the items purchased. The commission-value could be designated in the customer’s representative’s contract with the customer (Aeropostale). Assuming the commission value is 5% and a visitor who uses a redirect link with a customer’s representative’s ID purchases a garment at Aeropostale for $100, customer’s representative would be entitled to a commission fee of $5 for that transaction (5% commission multiplied by $100 shopping cart value). The customer, Aeropostale, is responsible for all commission payments due. Because of the association with the monetization network, the customer can first pay the monetization network all commission fees due (including the monetization networks service fees). The monetization network then can pay the customer’s representative fees owed once all payments have been received from the customer. For those customers who do not have a monetization network affiliation, payment from the customer can occur directly.

Another feature is that the system can scan auctions to see if typos can be recovered by bidding for less than the cost of a UDRP. Of course, CitizenHawk has even hand registered domains in the past (especially expired ones) as part of its efforts.

Other companies, including Microsoft, have received patents related to discovering typosquatted domains and figuring out who owns them. Microsoft’s patent is reference with the application.

© 2012. This is copyrighted content. Do not republish.

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No related posts. owner sues and CitizenHawk after losing UDRP

August 31, 2012citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, lawsuits, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on owner sues and CitizenHawk after losing UDRP

Domain owner files complaint to halt transfer of domain name after losing UDRP.

Match.comThe owner of has sued online dating company and domain name recovery firm CitizenHawk after losing a UDRP for her domain name.

In a complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida (pdf), Liz Eddy is asking for declaratory relief and financial penalties. She says is a generic typo.

Eddy lost a UDRP for on August 15. She alleges that fabricated evidence by bidding on the term “macth”:

Upon information and belief, Defendant and / or Defendant Citizenhawk, or their agent, placed a bid to have Defendant’s’s advertisement for matching services displayed in response to lnternet searches for the word ‘macth.’ Dedendants then used the advertisement shown on Plaintiffs webpage as result of Plaintiff’s adverting (sic) provider to self generate evidence purporting to show evidence in support Defendant’s claim of Plaintiff’s bad faith registration and use of the Domain Name, something the Defendants could not show absent fabricating this evidence. Plaintiff did not cause Defendant’s website to be reachable on the webpage shown, rather Defendants or their agents did by paying to put their MATCH.COM advertising link at the top of the web page.

The panelist in the case did not address Eddy’s allegations of the evidence being manipulated.

Eddy also alleges that’s representative in the UDRP, CitizenHawk, “is not licensed to represent others in legal proceedings including arbitration.”

She also says that she’s been using the domain since she registered it in 2000:

After registering the Domain Name, Plaintiff made demonstrable efforts to use the Domain Name for testing and development and did use the domain name for testing of patent pending algortithms (sic).

A quick look shows the domain name has been parked since at least 2005, and much of that time was the top result on the web page.

Eddy is representing herself in the legal action.


CitizenHawk has not responded specifically about this lawsuit, but reiterated what the company’s CEO told me in July: “CitizenHawk represents its clients exclusively upon their consent and doesn’t provide legal advice – and NEVER has. CitizenHawk facilitates the dispute process in collaboration with each client’s legal staff and does NOT file a UDRP unless and until it receives prior approval from the client’s legal counsel.”

Additionally, two sources have told me that a complaint was filed previously with the California Bar regarding CitizenHawk’s representation services and the California Bar decided it didn’t warrant taking action.

© 2012. This is copyrighted content. Do not republish.

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CitizenHawk Gets Into Corporate Domain Management

May 19, 2011citizenhawk, Domain Services, Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on CitizenHawk Gets Into Corporate Domain Management

Company expands beyond recovering typosquatted domain names.

CitizenHawk is expanding from its roots as a typosquatting domain name recovery service.

Today the company announced two new services: corporate domain management and online brand monitoring.

The corporate domain management product puts it in competition with companies such as MarkMonitor and CSC. It includes an online domain management system, registration, and private registrations.

The online monitoring tool is unrelated to domain names. It helps companies monitor product reviews, forum comments, etc.

There’s a lot of competition in both of these areas — particularly online monitoring. However, it makes sense for the company to sell these products as they already have an “in” with the right people at the company. Also, many of the corporate domain management companies provide services similar to CitizenHawk already.

This move also shows the reality that typosquatting recovery is a fairly small market.

© 2011.

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Related posts:

  1. CitizenHawk: Pulling the Sheets Off a “Typosquatting Recovery Firm”
  2. Arbitrator Blasts CitizenHawk for Boilerplate UDRP Filing
  3. CitizenHawk Nailed For Reverse Domain Hijacking, Chastised by Panelist

CitizenHawk Nailed For Reverse Domain Hijacking, Chastised by Panelist

October 12, 2010citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & LawComments Off on CitizenHawk Nailed For Reverse Domain Hijacking, Chastised by Panelist

Typo recovery company embarrassed by case.

For the second time, cybersquatting recovery company CitizenHawk has been chastised by a UDRP panelist for submitting a boilerplate complaint. This time the panelist threw in an added bonus, finding the company’s complainant guilty of reverse domain hijacking.

CitizenHawk filed a complaint on behalf of Tiny Prints, Inc. for the domain name Before discussing the merits of the case, panelist David A. Einhorn noted:

The Panel notes that this Complaint, prepared by Complainant’s representative, CitizenHawk, is so poorly drafted and difficult to read that the Panel found it necessary to study the exhibits and review online data to make sense of the allegations. It should be noted that in another recent proceeding in which the complainant was represented by CitizenHawk, the Panel therein noted that it was “quite troubled” by the apparent carelessness with which the complaint in that proceeding was prepared. Proto Software, Inc. v. Vertical Axis Inc. / PROTO.COM, D2006-0905 (WIPO Oct. 10, 2006). This Panel echoes those sentiments.

Einhorn found that the domain name wasn’t registered in bad faith. It was filed previous to Tiny Prints first trademark filing, and even before the company’s intent-to-use filing. Einhorn asked the company for proof of common law rights to the name prior to the registration, but wasn’t impressed with what he received:

By interlocutory order, this Panel requested that Complainant provide documentation and/or statements substantiating said alleged use of the TINY PRINTS mark prior to June 13, 2005.

In its response to such interlocutory order, Complainant did not provide evidence of any trademark usage whatsoever. Specifically, Complainant provided the Panel only with an assignment of employment identification number (EIN) form and a 2004 tax return. No trademark specimens, product descriptions, brochures, product photos or other evidence of usage was provided to the Panel. Procuring assignment of an EIN and payment of taxes by a legal entity alone does not constitute use of a mark in commerce.

In finding Reverse Domain Name Hijacking, Einhorn wrote:

This Panel provided Complainant with a second chance, by interlocutory order, to provide evidence of its alleged trademark usage upon which it based its claim of common law rights. Even after this second chance, Complainant failed to provide any evidence of use of the mark whatsoever prior to Respondent’s registration of the domain name.

Thus, Complainant and its representative, CitizenHawk, must have been aware, at the time the Complaint was filed, that there was no valid trademark usage by Complainant predating Respondent’s registration of the domain name. It follows that this Complaint was brought in bad faith and that, accordingly, Complainant has attempted to engage in Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.

© 2010.

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Arbitrator Blasts CitizenHawk for Boilerplate UDRP Filing

April 22, 2010citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, udrpComments Off on Arbitrator Blasts CitizenHawk for Boilerplate UDRP Filing

Panelist calls out mass UDRP filer for automated case submission.

Just how does CitizenHawk file so many UDRP cases? It appears to use an automated UDRP generator or template to quickly file cases. And a panelist with National Arbitration Forum is calling B.S.

The case in question is on behalf of CitizenHawk client The company tried to get, arguing that it differs by only one letter from its mark. But the complaint contained irrelevant and erroneous information, and the panelist wasn’t pleased. When CitizenHawk tried to file an additional submission, the panelist wrote:

Having carefully reviewed Complainant’s initial submission, the Panel believes that it was prepared by some sort of automatic process with little or no human review. For example, the Complaint refers throughout to “Complainant’s Mark(s)” and “Disputed Domain Name(s),” even though there is only one relevant mark and one domain name in dispute. The Complaint includes an obviously false contention regarding the timing of the registration of the disputed domain name, and includes other extraneous boilerplate material (for example, argument and authorities for the proposition that a top-level domain is irrelevant to the question of identicality or confusing similarity—clearly inapplicable in this case, where the trademark includes “.com”).

Ouch. Panelist David E. Sorkin refused to consider the additional submission, and found that the domain name was not registered and used in bad faith.

© 2009.

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CitizenHawk: Pulling the Sheets Off a “Typosquatting Recovery Firm”

April 7, 2010citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on CitizenHawk: Pulling the Sheets Off a “Typosquatting Recovery Firm”

New site watches a watchdog.

One of the more controversial domain name companies is CitizenHawk. The company was founded in 2007 to help brands recover typos of their domain names.

On behalf of clients, the company sends demand letters to registrants of typos and files UDRPs as well. When it recovers a domain, it has an agreement with the client that CitizenHawk may monetize the domain for a period of time. This is usually done through the client’s affiliate program. According to several sources, CitizenHawk typically gets to monetize domains for two years before control of the domain is supposed to be handed back over to its client.

But does the company have some of its own dirt to hide, much like the typosquatters it goes after? I wrote previously about how it used trademarks in its meta tags, which didn’t look good for a trademark-defending company. A new site sheds even more light on the company’s operations.

At HawkNest, you can peer into the company’s activities. Using publicly available information, the site shows CitizenHawk’s biggest clients, newest clients, and number of domains under management. But there are a lot of other surprising facts.

First, most of the domains the company has “recovered” for clients recently have been new registrations. Instead of sending out a cease & desist letters, the company is registering expired domain names that include clients’ typos. Sometimes it even registers typos that have never been registered before. That’s a great business model — speculatively register typos for two years with the blessing of the trademark holder. Take a look at many of the hand registrations for one of its newest clients, If CitizenHawk’s agreement with LawDepot lets it monetize the domains for two years, that’s a good deal for an $8 registration.

Second, if the typical duration that CitizenHawk is allowed to monetize a domain name after obtaining it is 2 years, it isn’t always handing control of the domains over after that period. Many of them are still being monetized by CitizenHawk well after two years. Someone is dropping the ball.

© 2009.

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  2. Pulling back the sheets on GoDaddy
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Trademark Protection Firm Uses Trademarks in Its Meta Tags

December 14, 2009citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, meta tags, Policy & Law, trademarksComments Off on Trademark Protection Firm Uses Trademarks in Its Meta Tags

CitizenHawk gets creative with other company’s trademarks.

CitizenHawkJust when you thought you’ve seen everything…

CitizenHawk, a company that helps trademark owners protect against typosquatters, has some peculiar keywords in its meta tags, including trademarks of one major competitor.

Yes, you read that right. Here are’s meta keywords on its home page:

cybersquatters, typosquatters, internet traffic, domain squatters, experts in stopping typosquatters, Hijacked, Brand, CPA, IP, fraudulent affiliate, Protect company, brand reputation, misspelled, brandholder, cybersquatting, google, mark monitor, commission junction, typo

So the company that helps others protect their trademarks includes several trademarks in its meta tags, including Google, brand management company Mark Monitor, and Commission Junction (an affiliate network that CitizenHawk is a member of).

Not that it really matters. Google doesn’t consider keyword meta tags in its ranking algorithms (although Yahoo still does). And it’s not like they can actually optimize for the term “Google”.

But still, seems a bit sketchy for a brand protection company that helped score 1,017 domain names in a single UDRP to cram its meta tags with trademarks.

© 2009.

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Linking Automated UDRP Filers CitizenHawk and Alias Encore

November 16, 2009alias encore, citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Linking Automated UDRP Filers CitizenHawk and Alias Encore

CitizenHawk founder created competing firm for typosquatting recovery.

This morning I was reading a couple articles about’s win of over 1,000 domains in a single UDRP. (See DNW’s story here.)

I was going to write a post about how so many blogs get information wrong, spreading falsities. These aren’t willful, but still hurt companies. In this case, I was reading an article at one of AOL’s blogs that said the company behind the cybersquatting, NetCorp, owned Moniker. That’s not true. Neither is the headline, which called the case a lawsuit.

But then I followed the story through Slashdot over to a company called Alias Encore. Alias Encore had written about the win and noted that CitizenHawk represented in the case:

Interestingly, was represented in the case by a company called CitizenHawk, Inc., which is not a law firm as would be typical. CitizenHawk and other similar firms such as Alias Encore, Inc. specialize in the automated creation of UDRP complaints using proprietary software, enabling brand holders to enforce their trademark rights at an otherwise infeasible scale.

“The exhibits for this UDRP would have been thousands of pages long, making the case nearly impossible to construct manually,” said Graham MacRobie, CEO of Alias Encore. “Companies have been playing a losing game of Whac-A-Mole with cybersquatters for years, and this case serves as an excellent demonstration of the role automation can play in leveling the playing field by going after huge chunks of infringing names at once.”

It wasn’t what CitzenHawk and Alias Encore do that caught me off guard. People have known about their automated C&D and UDRP filing for a while. What caught my attention was the name Graham MacRobie. He instantly stood out to me as the founder of…CitizenHawk.

I interviewed MacRobie back in 2007 when he founded CitizenHawk. He raised some cash from outside investors, but apparently split and started competitor Alias Encore in 2008.

This certainly was a tenuous situation. Indeed, Alias Encore released a press release in September noting that the two firms had “buried the hatchet”.

Alias Encore files UDRP cases on a pay-for-performance basis. After recovering a domain name, it points it to the client’s web site and collects a sales commission on any resulting converted traffic for a specified period of time.

This business model may be in luck, as new lower “fast track”/”easy case” pricing from WIPO and Czech Arbitration Court will make it more cost effective for them to file automated UDRPs in the future.

© 2009.

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Related posts:

  1. CitizenHawk Helps Companies Squash Typosquatting
  2. Wins 1,017 Domains in Single Arbitration
  3. Big Companies Get Benefit of Doubt in UDRP Decisions Wins 1,017 Domains in Single Arbitration

November 13, 2009citizenhawk, Domaining, Domainnamewire,, Policy & LawComments Off on Wins 1,017 Domains in Single Arbitration

Big win for credit report company; CitizenHawk may reap benefits.

FreeCreditReport.comIn what may set a record for most domains subject to a single domain name arbitration, the parent company of has won the transfer of 1,017 domain names registered by California-based NetCorp.

The domain names are mostly typos of the company’s web site, which is widely advertised as a free credit check service. Examples include,, and

NetCorp argued that is merely descriptive, and that the company did not have trademark rights at the time it registered the domain names. The panel didn’t buy it.

This case could be a big win for anti-typosquatting company CitizenHawk, which represented’s parent company CitizenHawk has struck “pay for performance” deals with clients in the past, which gives the company rights to monetize any domains it recovers for a fixed period of time before handing them over to the client.

© 2009.

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