back to article All of world's biggest firms hit by typosquatting

The world's 500 biggest companies have all fallen victim to typosquatting. OUT-LAW research has found that the fast-growing trend of making ad money from web domains similar to famous brands affects all the world's biggest firms. Typosquatting is the profiting, through adverts, from websites whose addresses are very close to …

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Anonymous Coward

DNS-governance is out of control

Low prices isn't really the problem. Various forms of DNS-squatting have exploded due to the add-grace-period (AGP) supposedly introduced by "mistake" by ICANN staff. One can only wonder why ICANN is dragging its feet in the process of correcting such a blunder.

Methinks DNS will remain a complete mess until it gets so bad that there's consensus in the internet community to transfer ICANNs current responsibilities elsewhere.

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Silver badge

At $6 per year...

Would it not be more cost effective for companies to register the most common misspelling(s) of their main domain? The law of dimishing returns applies to both owner and typosquatter - would there be any point squatting on mircofost.com? It has to be cheaper than hiring a lawyer.

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Anonymous Coward

"Millions" and "billions"

"I think it's fair to say that damage to brands through domain name abuse has got to be in the millions of dollars if not billions of dollars," said Bolinger.

I think it's fair to say that you picked those numbers out of the air as they sound big and impressive. And fair to say that the only people who willl make money from talking up the issue of typo-squatting are corporate lawyers. And fair to say that this article is an attempt to over-hype a tiny storm that long-ago stewed in the world's tiniest teacup.

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Who buys those adverts?!

What kind of moron would, when surprised to see an ad-riddled page instead of their desired site, clicks on adverts?!

No-one, thats who! If i was a company who paid for an advert somewhere but found it on link/search/typo dumps, i'd sue. This isn't advertising at all, its dumping customers paid-for ads on sites no-one wants to see or takes any notice of, and quoting utterly meaningless visitation statistics.

"20 million people a month will see your ad". No, i think their eye will be drawn to the url they've typed in to see how they cocked it up.

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Anonymous Coward

victims?

How can you be a victim of typosquatting ? People mistype, see some adverts, correct their mistakes and presumably eventually find the page they were looking for. If advertisers are daft enough to pay for such dubious internet billboards, more fool them. I cant imagine they get much return, if they do, fine....capitalism at its finest.

but where, exactly is the victim ?

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Unlucky el reg

http://www.theregistre.co.uk/

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Anonymous Coward

the victims

clearly are the lawyers, since they've been missing out on this excellent opportunity to rake in roomfulls of dough. Everything else is just "we're sad that someone is making money of something we did not think of first" sobbing. It's basically a bunch of rich people getting together around a big table carved from the flesh of rare trees, whining and flailing, "GAWD, we're missing, millions, BILLIONS!" or biting down on Gucci purses for stress relief. A terrible, terrible thing to behold. Grown people, wetting themselves.

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The lawyer mentioned

The laywer's in the articles name: Chris Bolinger.

Do you think he has a personal website covered in adverts at www.bolinger.com ?

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@Joe K

The ad process is a scatter gun effect. An advertiser says they want it seen by x people. They may pay more for better targeted advertising but on the whole they would simply pay by the numbers. No grounds to sue.

The reason this works is (and answering your other question) on average 0.1 % of visitors will click a link, just like the old days of junk mail through the post, 1% of people will follow up on it, so 1% of a million is a lot of people.

This is also why 419 scams work, because although you and I are far to clever for that, imagine out of all the people you know, there must be that 1 in 100 or in a 1000 that would click a link, follow up on a scam email or staple their fingers together.

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You could...

...see it as brand reinforcement. Presumably, after a couple of visits to pages full of annoying pop-ups and banner ads, you'd make damn sure you spelt the URL right. Anyway, it's better than phishing, which would probably be a more lucrative use of, say, barckays.com, or other fat-fingered mistakes.

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Passing off?

How can using a similar name be construed as "passing off"?

Passing off involves pretending to be the "real" company, so would require a web site looking very similar to the original (as in phishing sites).

Landing on a page full of adverts for penis extensions, viagra, pictures of naked "ladies" or whatever other wares are advertised on these sites is not going to fool a cack-handed punter into thinking that they are on the real site, therefore clearly no "passing off" has taken place.

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Fake URLs

Very soon 85% of registered URLs will be 'Fake' sites (like the proportion of Spam to real mail today).

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Silver badge

Eyeball filtering

If I get the wrong page I register enough of it to realise I've mistyped something and then I'm off to the right place. I note the presence of ads but not the content, so I can definitely say they're wasted on me.

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Anonymous Coward

Where's the news here?

In the recent Psion history articles, one of the non-techy bits related to how one of the ex-Psion guys, a long time ago, registered a "not quite right" domain name, similar to that of a major. See it at http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/06/26/psion_special/ (but it's 10 pages and I cba finding the exact quote).

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RW

Hallucinations of Lost Revenue

"It weakens your brand. I think it's fair to say that damage to brands through domain name abuse has got to be in the millions of dollars if not billions of dollars," said Bolinger.

So someone ends up at Viagra- and penis-enlargement-ad-rich "mircosoft.com" instead of o-so-kind-and-caring "microsoft.com". Precisely how does this cause financial loss to Microsoft? Does it lead the butter fingered to buy an OS called "Vister" or "Vasta" instead of Vista? Or an office suite called "Orifice" instead of "Office"? Or "Assess" instead of "Access"? For some odd reason, these outcomes seem unlikely.

As usual, a lawyer has confused his fantasies with reality and spewed forth grossly exaggerated estimates of the financial impact of an undesired behavior. (N.B. "undesired", not "undesirable") Perhaps there *is* a legitimate case against typosquatting, but this kind of exaggerated posturing weakens, rather than strengthens, any such argument.

Numbers pulled out of your ass do not constitute evidence for anything.

Incidentally, for those of you interested in trademark law, Indian courts have held that the brandnames such as "Malegra" and "Kanagra" do not infringe on "Viagra". Suck it, Pfizer.

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google knows what's what

http://www.googlr.com

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Diminishing returns for Google

Compare:

http://www.gooogle.com

http://www.goooogle.com

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Silver badge

Cybersquatting is a good thing

Words are differentiated by their spelling. These guys don't know that? The alternative is to have one word for everything... that would solve the problem. Perhaps using a keyboard with only one button on it would be helpful too. Seriously though, cybersquatting is a good incentive for people to type better, we need more of it.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a "tpyo" squatter

This is stupid. Yes I make money on brands, but the user TYPED IT IN, they REQUESTED my domain. I put ads in the site to direct them to a related service. They want Nike Shoes, then I sent them to a shoe sales site. They want MS Office, they can get MS Office. I am not misleading them, they can always use google to find a real link to MS OFFICE, yet a % of them click the ads to sponsors.

In the comments above, http://www.theregistre.co.uk/ is a good example of a tpyo someone might make. You can go to www.EOVT.com and type in URLs like yahoo.com and google.com, and see how many times a user has in the last month typed that URL into their browser. Now try that with a few typos of those URLs. You might be supprised.

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Anonymous Coward

real-world analogy

Let's say people keep taking an understandable wrong turn when approaching some stadium car park, by going down Acacia Avenue instead of Acacia Road.

So someone opens a car park in Acacia Avenue.

The stadium complains.

"But I'm not pretending to be you," says the owner of the new car park.

"But you wouldn't exist if we weren't here. You're profiting from being around us!"

"Yeah. So?"

I can't see the stadium successfully taking new car park to court.

Unless a typo-site is advertising itself, and falsely leading people there, they sound like the car park, to me.

Bolinger: "But they could be causing damage to a brand name."

Is there some law I don't know about where a perfectly legal activity becomes illegal if a side effect is that it might conceivably and unintentionally damage someone else's brand name? Are we really that far into Corporate madness?

Stadium owner: "Our website says we have plush car parking on Acacia Road. People find your shoddy car park on Acacia *Avenue* and think we have shoddy car parking. You are damaging our brand!"

"So?"

Like the other lawyer says, you could *argue* it - standard non-committal lawyer-speak, you can argue anything you like - but I don't give you much chance of succeeding. (Any tech lawyers reading?)

ps

> one of the ex-Psion guys, a long time ago, registered...

www.symbain.com

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a "tpyo" squatter

Who buys those adverts?!

By Joe K

Posted Wednesday 29th August 2007 11:46 GMT

What kind of moron would, when surprised to see an ad-riddled page instead of their desired site, clicks on adverts?!

------------------------------------------------------

this is crazy too, Why would they not click if the ads are related to what they want? Remember I am not forceing anyone to click.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a "tpyo" squatter

"By jeremy

Posted Wednesday 29th August 2007 13:06 GMT

The ad process is a scatter gun effect. An advertiser says they want it seen by x people. They may pay more for better targeted advertising but on the whole they would simply pay by the numbers. No grounds to sue.

The reason this works is (and answering your other question) on average 0.1 % of visitors will click a link, just like the old days of junk mail through the post, 1% of people will follow up on it, so 1% of a million is a lot of people."

click-through rate on 2-click landers is 20%... and 1-click lander 50%...

You should do a little more research before posting stuff like that, and no THE ADS ARE NOT UNTARGETED, unlike spam.

For example, I want to go to a site that sells cars, say Hummers, and I typo it as hummerofoh.com and the real URL is hummerofohio.com, and I land on a page with ads for Hummers. I can click on a link, and go to a site that sells Hummers, it will not be Viagra on that domain.

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Anonymous Coward

profiting from someone else's tradename is infringing on the rightsholder's trademark.

Microsoft makes a larger profit on direct sales than they do from sales through a retail partner. So there is potential for direct harm to the owner of the trademark.

@ typosquatter: Unless your page of Hummer ad's sends the customer to their intended destination, hummerofohio.com, you're misdirecting that customer with the use of the tradename hummerofohio.com. You're much more likely to cause direct harm to hummerofofhio through lost sales than Microsoft.

Random crap adverts would be less likely to cause harm than targeted adverts.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm a "tpyo" squatter

@ typosquatter: Unless your page of Hummer ad's sends the customer to their intended destination, hummerofohio.com, you're misdirecting that customer with the use of the tradename hummerofohio.com. You're much more likely to cause direct harm to hummerofofhio through lost sales than Microsoft.

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Just so you know, I don't own any names I mentioned in my comments...

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Anonymous Coward

CRAP ADVERTS?

Random crap adverts would be less likely to cause harm than targeted adverts.

...

This is stupid too, I mean really, who buys the ads? Somone that sells a product, Who do they buy it from? Google. Would Google put "random crap ads" on their system? no. Would you rather they would? No. Noone does, it would de-value their system. And they have a multi-million dollar system.

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Anonymous Coward

to the comment about 6 dollar domains

Would it not be more cost effective for companies to register the most common misspelling(s) of their main domain?

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Ofcourse, IMHO, as a squatter, YES! Most of them are only victoms of their own stupidity. They SHOULD register the names first, but most new projects still launch without the typos. If I was to launch YouTube, I would not have left youtube.EXT names unregistered, yet they did. Now Google is going after them, but they are costing them lawyer fees cause they launched without the names. That is the cost of the game I guess.

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Anonymous Coward

Microsoft and squatting

(squatter again)

Here is another thing about Microsoft you may not hear from articles like this: Microsoft is a MAJOR SQUATTER!

If I and my fellow squatters did not register these names, what would happen to them? Well the user would type them in, and then if they are useing IE, Microsoft will redirect them to Live.com to monitize the traffic.

If they are using Firefox with Google toolbar, they get sent to Google.

So really, that is the motivation behind Microsoft wanting these domains to be inactive, they will get to sent that traffic to Live.com, where THEY make the money off them. That is the name of the game, the big fish want to get the little fish to leave so they have a bigger sea. (Or they just kill the little fish and eat them)

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Bristish Airways

I discovered by accident several years ago that www.bristishairways.com silently redirected to www.britishairways.com

Some big companies are on the ball.

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Anonymous Coward

big fish?

Mr Alleged Squatter,

The "Big fish" are in the game because they made the game. The little fish, ie, "you", are like the beggers waiting outisde sporting events holding stupid signs like "wont lie, this money will get me drunk, god bless you" and "this money for important THC research".

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fishing

I don't get drunk, although I do drink from time to time... But I do have 4 kids to support. I also have generic names, so the squatting is only part of my business. I have been in business since 2000.

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