October 2, 2013
Social networking giant Pinterest has just been awarded millions of dollars and a hundred domains that have been judged to be infringing on its trademark.
A federal judge awarded USD $7.2M and the domains as a result of a complaint Pinterest filed last year.
The domains were all under the control of a single person. The judgement describes the defendant as a "serial cybersquatter" who has registered hundreds of domains that are similar to the names of a number of well known companies.
"Defendants (sic) apparent purpose in registering the similar domains is to attract visitors to these infringing domains... by attracting more visitors to his websites, defendant can make more money from advertising revenue."
The domains register were "typos"; incorrect spellings of Pinterest's name and the traffic was driven to those sites primarily via visitors who had incorrectly typed the social network's domain into their browser's address bar.
In addition to the cash and forfeiture, the defendant has also been ordered "not to register misleading or similar-sounding domain names or otherwise infringe upon the PINTEREST mark in the future".
While the .AU domain space has more stringent registration criteria to help prevent instances of cybersquatting; registering a .COM doesn't. Anyone can register any .COM domain. This means Australian businesses should perhaps consider registering the .COM version of their .COM.AU domain name to thwart cybersquatters and fraudsters who could potentially wreak havoc on their brand.
While there is recourse if such an event were to occur; arbitration or legal action can be lengthy, expensive and has no guarantees of success. With time being such a valuable commodity and legal/financial resources may be limited for small businesses; as mentioned in our original article on this incident - it's a case of an ounce of prevention being worth a pound of cure.
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