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Archive for the ‘Typosquatting’ Category

LivingSocial Discovers It Has Typosquatters

June 28, 2011Domaining, Domainnamewire, livingsocial, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on LivingSocial Discovers It Has Typosquatters

Company files several domain name disputes.

Living SocialLocal deals site LivingSocial has finally discovered that it has typosquatters — and that there’s a relatively affordable way to get its domain names back.

Earlier this month it filed its first domain name arbitration case, going against the Irish country code domain name LivingSocial.ie.

Now it’s ramping up its efforts by filing three cases with National Arbitration Forum this week. Each case costs about $1500 in filing fees plus legal costs.

Two of the cases deal with typosquatting including livingsocail.com and livingsocia.com.

The third case is for three domains that tack on “instant” to LivingSocial:

livingsocialinstantdeal.com
livingsocialinstantdeals.com
livingsocialinstant.com

There’s one other domain owner that should be careful. LivingSocal.com doesn’t have to be a typo; it could be for “Living Southern California”, kind of like SoCalTech.com. But the parked page on the domain is showing ads for daily deals. They should change that as soon as possible.


© DomainNameWire.com 2011.

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  2. No Double Jeopardy for Domain Name Case

Microsoft Gets Patent for “Cybersquatter Patrol”

July 13, 2010Cybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, microsoft, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Microsoft Gets Patent for “Cybersquatter Patrol”

Company granted patent for typosquatting and cybersquatting tools.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office today granted Microsoft U.S. patent number 7,756,987 (pdf) for “Cybersquatter Patrol”. The patent is for a system of generating lists of typo and cybersquatted domains and peeling back the onion to determine their ownership and revenue source. It also refers to methods to block these cybersquatted domain names.

An exemplary method includes providing a typographically erroneous domain name, tracing the domain name where tracing includes entering the domain name as part of a URL and recording one or more subsequent URLs, identifying a domain parking service for the domain name based at least in part on information in one of the recorded URLs, determining client identification information in at least one of the recorded URLs where the client identification information identifies a customer of the domain parking service and blocking one or more domain names based at least in part on the client identification information. Other exemplary technologies are also disclosed.

Microsoft has done significant research on typosquatting and cybersquatting, and has a tool called Strider Typo-Patrol. Using browser plug-ins, typosquatted and cybersquatted domain names can be blocked from resolving on a user’s computer (or at least from showing ads). Given that Microsoft owns the most-used browser, it will be interesting to see if the company implements this technology on a larger scale. In its patent, Microsoft acknowledges that blocking all internet ads is problematic (a nod to legitimate advertising and parking), which is distinctly different from some services such as DNS Advantage.

It seems that some of the technologies in this patent could cause problems for CitizenHawk if enforced.


© DomainNameWire.com 2010.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. Analyzing the Microsoft cybersquatter lawsuits
  2. Microsoft releases tool to squash typosquatters
  3. Yahoo Gets Patent for Behavioral Ad Targeting

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, LawDepot.com. 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.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. CitizenHawk Helps Companies Squash Typosquatting
  2. Pulling back the sheets on GoDaddy
  3. FreeCreditReport.com Wins 1,017 Domains in Single Arbitration

Typo? CanadaDrugs.com vs. CanadaRugs.com

March 10, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, National Arbitration Forum, Policy & Law, Typosquatting, udrpComments Off on Typo? CanadaDrugs.com vs. CanadaRugs.com

Online pharmacy argues “Rugs” is merely a typo of “Drugs”.


Take two of these and
fire your lawyer in the morning.

Here’s an interesting UDRP case from National Arbitration Forum.

The company that runs CanadaDrugs.com, a popular online pharmacy, filed a complaint against the owner of CanadaRugs.com, which is a parked page featuring links for rugs.

CanadaDrugs.com tried to argue that the owner of CanadaRugs.com was typosquatting:

Complainant submits that the Domain Name is confusingly similar to its website and Canada Drugs Marks and that respondent has merely removed the letter “d” from the spelling of the word “Drugs” in the Domain Name. Complainant also submits that this omission of the letter “d” constitutes typosquatting and that Respondent has registered the Domain Name in an effort to take advantage of internet users’ typographical errors. Complainant argues that this alteration is not sufficient to distinguish the Domain Name from its own domain name and registered marks.

Hmm. Did it not occur to their lawyers that “Rugs” is a word?

The links on CanadaRugs.com are clearly unrelated to drugs, but the complainant argued that the parked page was a sign of bad faith intent to profit on the “typo”.

The panelist found that the two domain names were not confusingly similar for this reason. He then considered the last two elements of the UDRP “for completeness”, finding in the respondent’s favor. But for some reason he neglected to consider reverse domain name hijacking, even though the respondent asked for it.

The kicker? CanadaRugs.com is available for purchase on Sedo for only 500 EUR.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

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  2. Is eHelper.com a Typo of EdHelper.com?
  3. DomainTools Typo Generator Protects Your Brand

Edelman: Domainers Cause Harm, Add Little Value

March 3, 2010benjamin edelman, Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Edelman: Domainers Cause Harm, Add Little Value

Author of typosquatting report says domainers add little value, and questions the right to register large numbers of domain names.

Cyber intelligence company Cyveillance has interviewed Benjamin Edelman, one of the authors of a recent report on typosquatting, and he has this to say about domainers: they cause harm and add little genuine value.

It should be pointed out that Edelman is co-counsel in a lawsuit against Google and several other industry players over typosquatting.

In the interview, Edelman states that he doesn’t see “much genuine value coming from the domaining business.”

Yes, some users guess domain names, and domainers can cause results to be shown to users who might otherwise receive error messages. But most web browsers already show results that are at least as useful as domainers’ placeholders – often better, with genuine organic results rather than merely advertisements.

This seems strange; as if he’s saying the ISPs and web browser manufacturers should be able to monetize non-existent domains, instead of domainers.

As for domainers that own generic domain names?

Meanwhile, domainers cause some important harms: For one, as detailed in my article, domainers deplete advertisers’ budgets. Domainers also make it more costly for entrepreneurs to obtain the domains required to run actual substantive businesses: A domain might truly be unclaimed, in the sense that no one has ever used it for anything interesting, but a domainer would nonetheless be able to withhold that domain from a would-be user until they agree on a price.

But isn’t that like real property?

Domainers will vigorously defend their right to advance-register large numbers of domains, as if this is some kind of moral entitlement. I’m not so sure. In many areas, landowners are (and, historically, have been) required to improve their property lest they be a blight or eyesore to others. The analogy here is less direct: Which domains are “near” an unimproved domainer domain? But certainly unimproved domains harm others, by impeding what could be direct navigations, and by driving up costs to others.

Cyveillance asked Edelman about certain web sites blocking Edelman’s research computers from gathering information. Edelman doesn’t directly respond to the question. As I pointed out in my earlier story on his report, this is likely the result of anti-bot systems rather than some sort of proactive blocking of his research.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

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Report: Google May Earn $497 Million a Year from Typosquatting

February 17, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Report: Google May Earn $497 Million a Year from Typosquatting

Study says typosquatting money big. But there may be a conflict of interest.

A new study suggests that Google may earn $497 million a year from typosquatters targeting the 100,000 most popular .com sites on the web.

Although I question some of the logic in the report and its appendices, and it is tainted by one of the authors being involved in a lawsuit against Google for typosquatting, the data is still fascinating.

First, for the claim of $497 million in revenue from typosquatting each year. That’s based on some assumptions that are weak at best:

-The study reviewed the top 3,264 .COM web sites, and found that 0.7% of their traffic was from typos. It then extrapolated this to the top 100,000 .com sites, assuming that much typo traffic to those sites as well. The truth is, typosquatters rarely target these less popular sites, meaning that less of their traffic is typosquatted.

-The authors concluded that domain revenue per search is the same as that of searches at Google. This is based on a vary narrow Efficient Frontier case study.

On the other hand, the authors may have under-counted traffic in other ways. For example, the report doesn’t take into consideration Google and Yahoo’s error redirect services, in which ISPs and computer makers hijack typos and send them to pages full of ads. It also doesn’t take into consideration typos such as .cm.

But the report is certainly fascinating. The authors found the most popular Google advertiser IDs on typo domains. They feature common names such as GoDaddy (probably through auto-parked pages on customers’ domains) and Sedo.

For domain servers with over 100,000 domains, the report found that dnsnameserver.org (FirstLook) had the highest ratio of typo domains at 4.75%, followed by trellian.com at 4.47% and hitfarm.com at 3.76%. When you look at nameservers over 25,000 domains, the top two are 365.com at 8.89% and ParkLogic.com at 8.19%.

Of course, not all typos are used inappropriately. CitizenHawk shows up as having 32% of its domains as typos, but the company is holding these on behalf of the trademark holders.

The report also found a number of extraordinarily “clean” nameservers. One of those is Michael Berken’s MostWantedDomains.com.

Another interesting finding is the domains that are most typosquatted by competitors to send traffic to their sites. It names the competitor that is receiving the traffic, too.

One final point. The authors found their crawlers blocked after hitting domain parking company’s nameservers excessively. They suggest the parking companies were trying to thwart the authors’ efforts. My guess is their click fraud and DDOS systems just kicked in.

At any rate, the research is worth reviewing.

[Via New Scientist]


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. Microsoft releases tool to squash typosquatters
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  3. DomainTools Typo Generator Protects Your Brand

Verizon Settles Trademark Domain Name Case

February 8, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, Typosquatting, verizonComments Off on Verizon Settles Trademark Domain Name Case

Communications company settles lawsuit over typosquatting.

Verizon has reached a tentative settlement with 2Cool Guys, LLC, Warren Weitzman, and Arnold Trebach over alleged trademark infringement from domain name typos.

The communications company filed the complaint in October, alleging that the defendants parked typos of its popular Verizon trademark in order to earn pay-per-click revenue. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but two of the three domain names in question have been transferred to Verizon as of this morning. Verizon was asking for $100,000 per domain name plus fees and recovery of pay-per-click revenue earned.

Typo domain names involved in the case included varizon.com, vierzon.com, and virazon.com.

Verizon has frequently sued entities that allegedly register and monetize typos of its trademarks. In 2008 it won a default judgment of $33 million in one such case. However, Verizon happens to be one of the biggest typosquatters in the world itself.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. Verizon Files Another Cybersquatting Lawsuit
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Verizon Settles Trademark Domain Name Case

February 8, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, Policy & Law, Typosquatting, verizonComments Off on Verizon Settles Trademark Domain Name Case

Communications company settles lawsuit over typosquatting.

Verizon has reached a tentative settlement with 2Cool Guys, LLC, Warren Weitzman, and Arnold Trebach over alleged trademark infringement from domain name typos.

The communications company filed the complaint in October, alleging that the defendants parked typos of its popular Verizon trademark in order to earn pay-per-click revenue. The terms of the settlement have not been disclosed, but two of the three domain names in question have been transferred to Verizon as of this morning. Verizon was asking for $100,000 per domain name plus fees and recovery of pay-per-click revenue earned.

Typo domain names involved in the case included varizon.com, vierzon.com, and virazon.com.

Verizon has frequently sued entities that allegedly register and monetize typos of its trademarks. In 2008 it won a default judgment of $33 million in one such case. However, Verizon happens to be one of the biggest typosquatters in the world itself.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. Verizon Files Another Cybersquatting Lawsuit
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  3. Verizon Sued Over Error Redirects

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 FreeCreditReport.com’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 FreeCreditReport.com in the case:

Interestingly, FreeCreditReport.com 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.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

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

Hypocrisy.com: How America’s Big Companies are the Biggest Cybersquatters

September 17, 2009CADNA, Cybersquatting, Domaining, Domainnamewire, erorr redirect, Policy & Law, TyposquattingComments Off on Hypocrisy.com: How America’s Big Companies are the Biggest Cybersquatters

A look at how big companies have joined forces to cybersquat and how they justify it.

In May 2007, I noticed something curious on a new Gateway desktop computer I purchased. When I mistyped a web address, my browser showed a page full of ads.

That’s nothing new. But who profited from the page was. It wasn’t some small fry cybersquatter. It was Gateway.

I later found out that Dell did the same thing. Both computer manufacturers had teamed up with search companies to show a page of links when someone typed in a non-existent domain name.

Shortly thereafter, internet service providers such as Verizon, Time Warner, and later Comcast jumped on the bandwagon and started similar schemes.

There’s only one reason these companies do this: money. They earn money every time someone clicks on a paid link on one of these error pages. But almost all of the companies masquerade error redirect pages as a “service” for their customers.

What’s perplexing is that many of the companies that use error services, including Verizon and Dell, are members of Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA). CADNA seeks to stamp out cybersquatting. Yet Verizon and Dell essentially typosquat on fellow members.

To understand how particularly egregious these company’s activities are, consider that almost all of the typos they serve ads on are of existing sites — essentially, trademarks. They aren’t of generic domains, which is a large part of traditional domain name parking. After all, when was the last time you typed in a generic domain name and it wasn’t already registered? Because all of the generic web addresses are registered, it’s clear that the typos these companies are serving up are mostly trademarks.

Earlier this year I interviewed Verizon Vice President and Associate General Counsel Sarah Deutsch about new top level domain names. Although I didn’t include it in my original story, I asked Deutsch about these error pages. She explained that they were very different from domain parking. Among her reasons:

1. If you typo a domain, the first thing you see on the page is a link “did you mean to go to realdomain.com…”

2. You can opt-out, which you can’t do of domain parking

3. The pages show organic listings in addition to ads

Although not won over by her arguments, I let it rest. But recently I received some screenshots of just how Verizon’s error pages look. Here’s one for DomainNameWir.com (notice the missing ‘e’):

domainnamewir

Notice that most of the page is just ads. Where are the organic listings? They’re there, but they’re below the fold. It’s clear that the intent of this page is to get you to click on an ad. If it were to help you find the site you mistyped, the organic listings would be at the top of the page.

As for a suggestion of which web site you really meant to visit, apparently your web site needs to be bigger than just the 29,989th most trafficked site on the web to qualify.

To be fair, I’m sure Deutsch would rather her company not offer this service. Someone within these companies sees a money making opportunity, agrees to terms, and then forces it on the IT department to implement and deal with customers’ furor. I doubt the intellectual property attorney is consulted in the process; they just have to defend it when their company’s hypocrisy is called out.

Just how much revenue do companies earn from error redirects? It’s hard to tell. Google advertisers get a break out of how much traffic they get from error pages. In my experience, it’s dwarfed by the amount of parking traffic my campaigns get. And although Google reports the specific parked pages that served ads, it doesn’t show which error pages served up ads.

But the revenue is meaningful. Otherwise Google, Yahoo, and these companies wouldn’t put up with the kicking and screaming from their customers.

Note: hypocrisy.com is a real web site, unrelated to this article.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

Related posts:

  1. Comcast Starts Typosquatting Domain Names
  2. Time Warner, Yahoo Team Up to Cybersquat
  3. Cease & Desist Sent to Domain Owner Based on Redirect Service