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Stop Typosquatters From Harming Your Domain Name

Among the nefarious ways people can misuse the internet and harm businesses and consumers is by obtaining domain names close to another’s domain name. The scammer will change letters in the domain name or use a common misspelling to lure unsuspecting users to the wrong site, rather than the intended site. This activity of “typosquatting” harms the intended company, because its potential customers never arrive at the intended site to transact business, and it can tarnish the reputation of the intended company by the user, at least initially, by not being satisfied with the offerings of the site the user landed on. Consumers are harmed because typosquatters frequently intend to capture personal information from users who would have been willing to provide that information to the intended website. To stop the infringement, a domain name owner whose domain name is being used by a typosquatter can use the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA), which is part of the federal trademark law, or the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), which is an arbitration process to which all domain name registrants consent by nature of obtaining a domain name. Having a federal trademark registration helps combat typosquatters, especially due to the importance UDRP puts on registration to obtain a remedy. Search companies can help identify typosquatters so a company can police its valuable domain name. Companies should consider acquiring for themselves domain names that have misspellings and common typographical errors, as insurance against typosquatters acquiring and misusing them.

Ned T. Himmelrich
410-576-4171 • nhimmelrich@gfrlaw.com