–Dan Kelly, Attorney

A couple of weeks ago, Forrester Research issued a report called “The Purchase Path of Online Buyers in 2012.”  The report has a great deal of interesting information, two pieces of which underscore points I have hammered here for a while.  First, the report notes that “[d]irect traffic is critical to sales:”

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Time is running out to take defensive action for opting registered trademarks out of the forthcoming “.xxx” domain space.  Depending upon the registrar that you use to do this, an opt-out application is due by October 28, 2011, will cost around $300, and will prohibit third parties from registering opted-out trademarks as

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

Last week, I went to the Internet to look up some information.  I opened the browser and hastily typed “wkipedia.com” in the address bar and was met with this page:

I stared at it for several seconds, during many of which I seriously thought that Wikipedia had updated its home landing page and puzzle-globe design.  The Google and Ebay search bars eventually convinced me that I was in the wrong place, and after staring at the banner for several more seconds, I realized that I had directly navigated not to wikipedia.com (which lands at wikipedia.org), but instead to “wkipedia.com,” just like I typed, omitting the first “i.”

Typical typosquatters use pay-per-click pages (examples here) to monetize their typo domain names, which is bad enough.  The Wkipedia.com typosquatter is using a look-alike of a registered trademark that, at least for me, creates confusion, which elevates the issue.  It is no longer “mere” typosquatting, but this may very well be flat out trademark infringement.

Typosquatting profits from traffic, and it does not discriminate as to whether the traffic is generated from a domain held by a for-profit company or one held by a not-for-profit company.  The difference in battling the beast is that a for-profit company often has a larger budget to combat the problem.  Unless or until better tools are developed to battle typosquatting on the back end, the best defense remains a good offense, and all the more for non-profits.  If you are planning to start a non-profit with a heavy web presence, make sure that your budget includes the purchase and holding of as many typographical variants of central domains as are feasible to purchase.

An image of the Wikipedia landing page is below the jump for comparison.Continue Reading Typosquatting: Not Just a For-Profit Problem

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

In the past on these pages, I have been hard on Apple Inc. for apparent missteps in securing trademark rights to some of its more well-known products (iPhone, iPad).  Last week, Apple landed a victory on the domain name front, winning a Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Procedure (“UDRP”)

–Dan Kelly, Attorney

A bomb exploded in the domain name aftermarket world on Wednesday.  A well-known domain name auction house called SnapNames.com announced that one of its (now former) employees had been bidding as a shill in many online domain name auctions run by the company since 2005.  SnapNames has an FAQ page on the matter here.

It is not difficult to decry the many abuses that have gone on in the domaining industry:  cybersquatting, typosquatting, domain name tasting, domain name kiting, pay-per-click fraud, and now shill bidding (to name a few).  As these abuses tend to make for the juciest news, it is not surprising that some (including trademark attorneys) accuse the whole domain name business (or “industry”) of being dirty.  But law, being a generally slow, blunt instrument, has so far caught up with only the first two of the abuses listed above.  What is less widely reported is that, for all of its wild-westness, the DN business has policed itself (e.g. cybersquattingdomain tasting) without resort to government intervention.  This is as it should be.

Even so, self-policing is also slow to catch up to opportunists, so caveat emptor is the rule of the day in domain name transactions, especially when bidding at an auction, especially an online auction.  I recommend reading any auction site’s rules, terms and conditions carefully before engaging in a transaction.  Some of these sites will readily represent both buyer and seller, which is a situation well-known to lawyers and real estate agents as a “conflict of interest.”  Caveat emptor, indeed.Continue Reading Fraud at Domain Name Auction House