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Facebook Awarded $2.8M In Typosquatting Suits

May 2, 2013

Thinking of registering Faceboik or other domain names similar to the social network? It mightn't be such a good idea.

A U.S. judge has ruled in favour of Facebook; which requested injunctive relief, an order the transfer of all infringing domain names to Facebook and to award statutory damages to the company in relation to multiple defendants that had registered what the company stated were infringing domains.

United States Magistrate Judge Kandis A. Westmore did so; finding against the defendants and awarding Facebook USD $2.8 million dollars in damages - plus all the domain names involved. 

One defendant has been ordered to pay total statutory damages in the amount of $705,000 and another $430,000. The largest order was to the tune of $1,340,000.

"While all Default Defendants acted in bad faith by intentionally diverting consumers from Facebook, their conduct differs in terms of degree of maliciousness and wrongdoing," said the judge, who stated to ensure consistency in the damages awards; a formula was used.

It could have been worse for the 11 named defendants. Facebook was pursuing $100,000 per instance. Had that been granted, with over 100 domain names involved, the final amount could have exceeded $10 million.

The judge commented that while "...misconduct was willful and comprises the behavior that the ACPA is designed to prevent, the Court is hesitant to apply the maximum penalty in a default setting."

ACPA refers to the  Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act; a US law enacted in 1999 that provides "a cause of action for registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name confusingly similar to, or dilutive of, a trademark or personal name," according to a Wikipedia page on the topic.

"Typo" domain names often come up for sale on domain name marketplaces and there is good reason why they are often so cheap - the very real legal risk involved.

The full judgement can be viewed here.

Learn more about typosquatting.

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