If you follow any court decisions on domain name disputes, you probably know that a significant amount of domain name typosquatting still exists despite attempts to quell it.
Typosquatting occurs when someone registers domain names that are mistakenly close in spelling to an established brand name/domain name. Typosquatters receive traffic when someone mistypes a domain in their browser’s address bar — think domainetools.com instead of domaintools.com — and it can be an extremely profitable venture for them in some cases.
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the National Arbitration Forum (FORUM) regularly adjudicate and report on domain name disputes.. Many decisions simply result in the transfer of domain ownership, very little impact, financial or otherwise, is felt by the typosquatter in these instances. However, certain companies are becoming more active in their pursuit of individuals who are doing significant amounts of willful brand infringement in domains. You may have heard back in May that Facebook claimed victory in its case against typosquatters on 105 domains, with statutory damages of $2,795,000. We expect more similar pursuits and announcements, especially with the impending wild west of new gTLD launches later this year.
So, how do you begin to protect yourself against typosquatting? Where do you start? Here are two initial steps to improve your brand protection:
Proactively register obvious trademark and copyright typos before someone else does. At $10 per domain per year, this is some of the cheapest ‘insurance’ you can buy. A variety of tools are available to do to help you, including our own Domain Typo Finder tool. We take your domain and apply each of the common sets of typos to it and then check the availability of that typo. It is good practice to review registered domains to discover potential phishing and fraud sites and take action.
Utilize a brand monitoring service that also looks for typos of your brand string in registered domains. DomainTools’ Brand Monitor operates this way by monitoring for string sets. For more information on our Brand Monitor, please refer to this previous blog post. By taking swift action against infringing domains, you have a much higher chance of defeating typosquatting.
Those two options may be cost-prohibitive. Defensive monitoring of registered domains may be the best alternative. After all, some “typo’s” are legitimate. Take a look at one single character swap of two unique and viable businesses: www.wine.com vs www.dine.com. That single character swap may be a common typosquatting pattern, but it is not always in bad faith.
DomainTools has been investing heavily throughout 2013 in new tools to help Brand owners protect their intellectual property and trademarks online. Please stay tuned to this blog for new product announcements later this year!