Planning to typosquat on a brand’s domains? Think again.

As brands increase their awareness of the value of their domain, and how to protect it, we are seeing more and more lawsuits being won by the brand owners. In this case brought on by Facebook, the social network was awarded $2.8 million in damages.

A key law that plays a role in these cases is the ACPA (Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act – see wikipedia) which basically states that:

“Under the ACPA, a trademark owner may bring a cause of action against a domain name registrant who (1) has a bad faith intent to profit from the mark and (2) registers, traffics in, or uses a domain name that is (a) identical or confusingly similar to a distinctive mark, (b) identical or confusingly similar to or dilutive of a famous mark, or (c) is a trademark”

And as far as determining “bad faith” here are the critera:

In determining whether the domain name registrant has a bad faith intent to profit, a court may consider many factors, including nine that are outlined in the statute:

  1. the registrant’s trademark or other intellectual property rights in the domain name;
  2. whether the domain name contains the registrant’s legal or common name;
  3. the registrant’s prior use of the domain name in connection with the bona fide offering of goods or services;
  4. the registrant’s bona fide noncommercial or fair use of the mark in a site accessible by the domain name;
  5. the registrant’s intent to divert customers from the mark owner’s online location that could harm the goodwill represented by the mark, for commercial gain or with the intent to tarnish or disparage the mark;
  6. the registrant’s offer to transfer, sell, or otherwise assign the domain name to the mark owner or a third party for financial gain, without having used the mark in a legitimate site;
  7. the registrant’s providing misleading false contact information when applying for registration of the domain name;
  8. the registrant’s registration or acquisition of multiple domain names that are identical or confusingly similar to marks of others; and
  9. the extent to which the mark in the domain is distinctive or famous.

Now if you are a brand owner with an affiliate program, you’re probably thinking “oh no, so now I need to hire a team of lawyers to sue these people?”. Actually that is one option, but another option is to simply determine who these affiliates are that are using this technique to rob you of traffic and commissions, while your affiliate manager sites quietly happy and unaware of the theft that’s going on (maybe because they get a % of commissions?).

So how do you find these typo domains and stay on top of this madness? It’s easy – just get an account with Typo Assassin and start saving today, with no need for big lawsuits :)