March 5, 2013
Registering a brand 'typo' domain name might mean a lot more could happen than just losing the name if the registration is challenged.
Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting whereby domain names that are misspellings of a brand or business are registered, often with the intent on showing ads for competing services to visitors who stumble upon the site through incorrectly spelling a domain name when typing it into their browser.
Typosquatted companies understandably despise the practice and some will file a complaint under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP); or in the case of cybersquatting on Australian domain names, the .au Dispute Resolution Policy (auDRP).
If successful, the complainant will usually be granted control over the domains in question. However, with domain registrations being relatively cheap these days, this is considered by some typosquatters to be an acceptable risk.
But if substantial financial damage has been done to the brand, the complainant might take it further - much further. An extreme example of this recently occurred.
Weather Underground Inc. has been awarded a $3.5 million judgement stemming from a typosquatting situation where hundreds of domains were determined to have been registered in bad faith with intent to profit; even though the defendants' lawyers claimed the names were registered using automated software. It appears one of the defendants has a history of cyber squatting accusations.
Internet entrepreneur and professional domain investor, Elliot J. Silver, commented on the case and issued some advice worth noting, stating:
"Think about that the next time you consider buying typo domain names. Just because they might make some money, doesn't mean it's easy money. In fact, you could make a small fortune, but one lawsuit will cause you to have to turn over all of that and more."
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