Of all the different forms of intentional bad faith cybersquatting on trademark protected domain names, typosquatting is one that drives trademark owners a bit crazy. Registering a typographical variation of a famous brand name or high-traffic website just does not pass the smell test.
Domainers often defend claims of cybersquatting when they are the registrant of a typographical variation of a high-traffic website typically focuses on the bad faith element. Domainers often claim ignorance of the underlying trademark protected domain name and website or ignorance of their own domain portfolio. The latter defense to cybersquatting is the most common. The argument goes something like this.
For more information, review this Bloomberg Business Week article titled, “When You Mean Facebook but Type Faecbook.”
- “I register so many typographical variations of domain names that I have no idea what’s in my portfolio.”
- “I auto-register domains using software which allows me to determine if I am going to have enough website traffic to support PPC ads, and don’t really look beyond that.”
- “I don’t know what ads are showing on my page nor do I have any control over those ads.”
Unfortunately, these defenses really do suck. They amount to “I burry my head in the sand," and thus, cannot be held responsible for my actions. Trademark owners don’t buy these defenses. Nor do courts under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act or arbitrators under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Can you imagine any other business where the owner says they have no idea what assets they own or whether or not the assets amount to stolen property?
Domainers need to be responsible for their portfolios and do whatever due diligence is required to avoid the registration of typographical variations of high-traffic trademark protected websites. Big companies are getting more serious about pursuing domainers whose portfolios include typosquatted domains. If you are deriving revenue from typosquatting, don’t be surprised to receive a trademark infringement threat letter demanding that you do a number of things which will hurt, not the least of which is paying damages. The days of typosquatting are quickly coming to an end. You don’t want to be the last domainer holding the bag.