Information Week reported yesterday that Microsoft is stepping up efforts against those who illegally profit from their trademarks by registering domains with slightly altered spellings. Paul Mc Dougall writes that the software maker will more aggressively pursue legal action against companies that register domain names that are misspellings of Microsoft product names in order to capture Internet traffic from typo-prone computer users.
To emphasize the point, Microsoft announced that it has filed a lawsuit against a U.S.-based cybersquatter that operates under the name Maltuzi LLC. Microsoft claims the company illegally profits from its trademarks by registering domains such Winowslivemessenger.com (note the lack of the letter D) in order to redirect wayward Web surfers to sites operated by its partners.
In 1999, the US Congress passed the U.S. Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to register domain names that infringe on the trademark rights of individuals or corporations. Despite such laws, cybersquatting continues to flourish. The U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization says that disputes related to domain name registration increased 25% in 2006.
What's the difference between cybersquatting and typosquatting? Check out Maija Palmer's timely industry definitions on FT.com. Here's a sample:
■ Cybersquatting: Registering or using a domain name with bad-faith intent to profit from a trademark belonging to someone else. The cybersquatter either offers to sell the domain to the person or company who owns the trademark for an inflated price, or makes money from “domain parking”.
■ Typosquatting: A form of cybersquatting which relies on mistakes made by internet users when typing a website address into a web browser - for example myspac.com rather than myspace.com. Should a user accidentally enter an incorrect website address, they may be led to an alternative address owned by a cybersquatter.