A scientific approach to typosquatting

Typosquatting can occur when someone registers a misspelling of your domain name in the hope that your customers will mistype the domain name in their web browser and land on that someone’s website. (Apparently, a significant portion of people who do so then click on a link on the typosquatted website, thus generating pay per click advertising revenues for the site ‘squatter’.)

Apart from the potential diversion of custom, FairWinds Partners also makes the point that typosquatting can harm the reputation of the brand.  As an example they speculate about the impact on Disney’s customers if they landed on a typosquatted page promoting pornography.

Recognising that it is not feasible to register every possible variation of your domain name to defend against such practices, FairWinds Partners have published a attempt to analyse typosquatting scientifically.

The study looked at 3,000 top level domains that had more than 2,000,000 hits per month.  From this universe, they found that most typosquatting appears to fall into 1 of 10 categories.  They also concluded that the typosquatters were targetting domain names fairly scientifically.

Apart from typosquatting, FairWinds Partners notes that consideration should be given to registering the domain name in other tlds –  e.g. consider .biz and .net, not just .com; also consider country specific domains. This, however, is already problematic – there are already 21 gTLDS, not to mention of the country specific ccTLDS such as .com.au and .co.uk etc.  And its going to get much worse with ICANN, in the interests of competition and diversity no less, planning to allow a potentially unlimited number of tlds.

Download the paper here (pdf).

Other research suggests that about 10% of internet searches don’t land on their expected destination (Lid dip Marty).

A different Chrome IP issue

For those of you wondering what Google Chrome is all about, David Pogue does an excellent review and Google, of course, has pretty good explanatory materials including a comic.

Something your brand owners may want to start thinking about is the new monoline address/search bar: you type in a word and Chrome starts suggesting a range of alternatives.  See an example and watch the video here.

Nothing to worry about, perhaps, if you type in coke and get taken here but what happens if the top suggestion takes you here (takes forever to load)?

This brings up the trade mark/IP issues Marty Schwimmer spotted emerging in Japan here.

Oh, that other, EULA issue here, there and everywhere else too.

Domain name disputes in Australia

Mark Bender, at Monash University, has written about domain name disputes in Australia …

According to the abstract:

The objective of this paper is to provide an overview of the law in relation to domain name disputes involving trademarks that applies in Australia. Generally the focus of this paper will be confined to consideration of domain names ending with the .au suffix. An overview of the rights associated with domain names, registered business names and registered and unregistered trademarks is provided, as is an outline of the domain name dispute resolution processes and some some summary statistics and key cases in relation to domain name disputes.

The article has been published in the Monash Business Review vol.3 No. 3 (2007) and appears on SSRN here.

No doubt reflecting its business review audience, much of the article is taken up with discussing ways of protecting trade marks under Australian law and a flirtation with the 2000/2001 controversies over whether the UDRP is biased towards rights owners. Pp. 10 – 14 hit the .auDRP compared to the UDRP and flag some of the Australian court cases that I wasn’t aware of rather than a detailed analysis of the decisions under the .auDRP. A good starting point is CSR Ltd v. Resource Capital Australia Pty Ltd, 128 FCR 408.

Lid dip, Prof. Manara.

Lots of Australians involved in a domain name dispute here.

Another Australian, also at Monash, took an in-depth examination of the international domain name law here.