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What to do When Someone is Typosquatting Your Domain Name

22nd January, 2020

Posted by ESQwire

Since the 1990s, tens of thousands of businesses have had to deal with cybersquatting — a term for a party that registers a domain name that is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark for the purpose of selling that domain name to the trademark owner. What many company owners may be less aware of is typosquatting and how typosquatters can affect their business and harm customers. 

At ESQwire, our highly qualified intellectual property attorneys are here to protect against typosquatting and protect your business and customers. Call the office or contact us today to learn more about your legal options against typosquatting and how our office can help.

 

What is Typosquatting?

Typosquatting is a form of cybersquatting. Unlike a typical cybersquatter, who registers the domain name of a business, typosquatters register domain names that are similar or misspelled versions of a well-known company. Examples could include gooogle.com (adding an extra letter) for Google or appke.com for Apple (notice the letter “K” is to the left of “L” on the keyboard).  In typosquatting, the intention is to mislead consumers by creating similar websites for malicious purposes to take advantage of those who make a mistake when trying to get to a legitimate website.

Malicious purposes can include a wide range of activities designed to steal information or money. Some typosquatters are trying to get users to input personal information or credit card information that can be later used or sold to others. Sometimes, these websites are selling similar but lower-quality products than the legitimate company with the intent to profit off of the legitimate company’s reputation. In other situations involving typosquatting, the purpose is to infect the user’s computer with malicious software like malware or viruses.

 

Typosquatting Protection: What You Can Do 

First, you can be proactive. In order to avoid typosquatting attacks, many well-known companies will purchase domain names that are similar or slightly misspelled from the legitimate company’s name (defensive domain name registrations).  

Another option is to secure your own Top Level Domain Name for your business like .BARCLAYS https://home.barclays/ or .KPMG https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home.html (commonly known as a “new gTLD).  New gTLDs are the most secure option for businesses as the customer knows only to use _____.YOURBRAND. Obtaining your own TLD is an extensive process and is something that requires significant planning and filing of an application to ICANN. The next window to apply for a TLD will likely be in 2021. Contact us today to discuss if applying for a new gTLD is right for you or to learn about defensive domain name registrations and domain name portfolio management.  

If these are not options for you, there are some other ways you can deal with typosquatting on your domain name. Some options involve educating users on phishing, and typosquatting to teach your customers to double-check the spelling of domain name for the website they are visiting. You can also get an SSL certificate for your domain name that ensures that users are on the correct website.

Another option is to simply pay a typosquatter for the rights to the similar or misspelled domain name. This can be the fastest (but not always the best) way to get rid of typosquatting on your website, but sometimes a typosquatter will refuse to hand over a domain name or demand an exorbitant amount of money. 

Alternatively, you may have legal recourse to file a complaint using the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to arbitrate the matter. If malicious activity is discovered, the process may result in the transfer of the domain name to you. However, to prevail in a UDRP you will need to establish your trademark rights and the timing of your trademark use. Such factors should be evaluated before you approach the domain name owner and before a recovery plan is implemented. 

Finally, the most time consuming (and often most expensive) option is litigation. If counterfeiting or other illegal actions are involved that are causing harm you could consider federal litigation against the offending party.

 

Call or Contact Our Office Now

Are you having trouble with typosquatters attacking your business and want to learn more about your legal options like applying for a new gTLD, managing your domain portfolio or utilizing the UDRP?  Call the office or contact us today at ESQwire to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced intellectual property attorneys today.

 

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