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Typosquatting Held Illegal 165

Artagel writes: "The Federal Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit (covering appeals from federal courts in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and the Virgin Islands) has whacked a cybersquatter for registering misspellings("typosquatting")of the Joe Cartoon homepage. The Third Circuit is the place the ACLU brings suits when it wants to challenge federal laws regulating speech. It brought ACLU v. Reno case (first big internet free speech case) in the Third Circuit. I don't think that, in general, there is a friendlier forum for a free speech case, certainly not if the ACLU knows what it is doing. One more in the list of ways to get whacked on the internet. It is a precedent a lot of lower courts are likely to follow."
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Typosquatting Held Illegal

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  • I consider myself to be a libertarian, though not an extremely radical one (I think that shutting down the Federal Reserve (STOP THE PRESSES! HE'S US-CENTRIC!) would be absurd), and typosquatting (like abortion) is one of those things that one really hates to condone (or that I really hate to condone, in abortion's case), but do so in defence of free speech.

    It's tough territory.

  • Because half of the time I try to get to Slate [] to read up on the diaries and Prudence, my fat fingers type Salte [] instead.

    Who cares if he's had the family name for centuries, he's trying to squat on MS's product!

  • If I type in and it takes me to a pornographic donkey site than I will be greatly ammused.

    The fact that a court has ruled this ILLEGAL is inane. This makes no more sense than the battle Ford is waging against 2600 Magazine over

    Grow up, courts. -TK

  • Now I won't be able to find new and exciting pr0n every time I mispell major company names. I'll be reduced to reading /. and finding the hidden goatse links!
  • I wonder if all the * domains will be determined to be typos (therefore illegal). If a company decideds to go after someone they might be able to use this ruling to shutdown sites that legitimately protect consumer interests.
  • check out maybe /. should sue them :)
  • by Auckerman ( 223266 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:12AM (#143316)
    Forgive me, but I'm not sure what the big deal is here. I type a lot of URL's in and at least once or twice a month I'm redirected to someones pr0n site when I was looking for cooking recipes. Certainly not fair use, certainly intented to direct traffic from one intended destination to another, certainly something that dimishes brands.

    Couse though stuff like this just ends up allowing a company to smash down a parody site which is within the relm of fair use.....

  • seems to be still free, go get it!
  • Where does the difference lie between a 'typo' and a fair use parody. If I registered a domain called '' that hosted a site intended to poke fun and 'lashout' at the slashdot community, could Andover claim I was typo squatting?

    Who gets to decide what is a legit take-off, and what is an attempt to simply direct traffic to their own site?

  • by Deluge ( 94014 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:14AM (#143319)
    ...a good thing, but only in theory. Companies, no matter how nasty and evil they may be, do not deserve to have some typosquatter leech off their business through exploiting people's tendency to make typos of the company name. But the companies, seeing that they have another precedent that gives them a chance to take away people's domains, will try to abuse this much the same way that etoys did with etoy.


  • by The Gline ( 173269 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:14AM (#143320) Homepage
    If someone registered or something along those lines and then proceeded to use it to a) defame me or b) mislead people, I would have a hard time thinking of a severe enough punishment.

    It's akin to when you would pick up a CD that said in huge letters


    and on closer inspection you saw it really said

    completely ignored these terrible

    (Kudos to MAD Magazine for that particular example.)

    Typosquatting has about as much to do with free speech as the quack "American NutriMedical Association" (which gets a LOT of mileage out of being "mistaken" for the AMA) has to do with "freedom of medical choice."
  • So what defines a typo? Is this going to cause major problems for Cmdr Taco? What if I go domain shopping drunk? Is a site like monsantos [] a typo or a parody? Am I going to get busted because [] could be construed to be a typo of []?.. This is just silly.

  • or :P
  • Internic, and a few other companies are for profit companies ie selling domain names is their business. These types of rulings hurt these companies are flat out wrong. If microsoft does not want a company to have any domain name with the word windows(just an example) in it, then they need to buy EVERY domain name that has that has Windows in it. Same for for example if google does not want me to buy then they need to buy it. Anything less than this is hurting domain companies since goog won't buy it and I am not allowed to. Therfore, misspellings are already sold even though no one "really" owns them. The same holds true for words like "windows, java, gm, aol... ect" If you don't like someone using your domain name or something close to it.. THEN BUY IT!
  • From the judgement:
    On November 29, 1999, the ACPA became law, making it illegal for a person to register or to use with the "bad faith" intent to profit from an Internet domain name that is "identical or confusingly similar" to the distinctive or famous trademark or Internet domain name of another person or company.

    I don't think that parody is considered "bad faith" intent to profit.

  • most of you probably know that is offering all sorts of new top level domains by having their app accepted by most of the major ISPs and browswers. do you think typosquatting would be a factor there? how would that work since ICANN doesn't sanction or regulate the sale of those names; that is, who is to blame? i realize most typosquatting occurs when someone takes, say, (hoping your finger grazes the "y" key), but it could have plenty of interpretations. just wondering in general if anyone has heard any feedback to's offerings.

    1. is this for REAL? []
  • I'm guessing the way they'd determine it is based on content. If you're a sports site, and you own something like, which merely redirects traffic to something like sportsline, that would be bad. But if the design and/or content is a clear parody of ESPN, e.g. you have similar design and/or modified content, that would be different.
  • Maybe I shouldn't have registered
  • You bring up a valid point. This case is a bit different. The squatter registered a handful of misspellings of and set out to make money with banner ads.

    From the article:

    Visitors were trapped or"mousetrapped" in the
    sites, which, in the jargon of the computer world, means
    that they were unable to exit without clicking on a
    succession of advertisements. Zuccarini received between
    ten and twenty-five cents from the advertisers for every
  • the first thing that catches your eye on that page is a huge slashdot image/link. How is that to slashdot's disadvantage ?

  • by pizen ( 178182 )
    Just remember: !=
    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals != People Eating Tasty Animals
  • The fact that a court has ruled this ILLEGAL is inane.
    The fact is that the court didn't rule this illegal, the Congress made it illegal, and Zuccarini apparently raised no questions as to the validity of the law, but merely attempted to shoehorn himself into the exceptions of the law. Courts don't go out of their way to find reasons to overturn laws, they expect the apellants to present them with arguments to do so.
  • Indeed - waht is a typo? (yes it was deliberate)

    How close does it have to be, to be "typosquatting"- would microsloth be considered a typo, in extremis could 'sun' be a mis-spelling of 'microsoft'?
    It's another of those slippery slope things - it's not like a speed limit, it's a judgement call like obscenity, which is why there are some many court cases.
    And what about a misspelling which forms another comapny name - if I registered would that mean I can stop another comapny from using If so why, if not, why not?
    In my opinion the fat lady ain't singing yet.

  • Next there will be a legal squabble if you are the first to register existing URLs in newly open languages like Japanese or Chinese []...
  • by pgpckt ( 312866 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:25AM (#143334) Homepage Journal
    While I suspect that several on the slashdot crowd might disagree with this decision on privacy rights or the like, I must say that this decision does make logical sense.

    I say this because I believe the laws in the online world should be no different then those in the physical world. This is why I get so upset when courts do not transcribe the same regulations governing laws in place to the domain of the digital community. The rights of someone online are the same IMHO as those in the real world. Historically, the government has been more restrictive with online rights then those in the physical world, which is why I am happily a member of the EFF. But I digress.

    When someone has a trademarked name, it is illegal in the real world to use a name that is extremely similar to the trademarked name, just as it is illegal to use the exact same name. The courts get really mad when people pick a similar name with the intent that people will confuse them with the legitimate trademark holder. In this case, the courts said that the person registering a typo name of an entity that has a legitimate claim is unfair, and I agree.

    It is important to make sure that this isn't taken to the Nth degree, but I think that, within limits, the decision of the courts is reasonable. I remain hopeful that this means that people squatting on typo names will be forced to vacate. I know that I have mistyped names in the past, and I find it highly irritating to be exposed to content I had no intent to view.

    In the conclusion, I think we should respect the courts in this case for protecting the rights of those online in the same way those rights are protected in the real world. If this rule were universally applied, I think we would better off, though I wouldn't mind if the online rules were a touch less restrictive, due to the nature of the public forum that the is the Internet.

  • If I were a major company, I would be concerned not just that a misspelling of my URL could take a potential customer to a pr0n site, but that the customer may not realize that they have mis-typed the URL and now will never see my site at all. Or file some frivilous lawsuit against me because someone's 8-year-old saw something they shouldn't have and think that I'm responsible.
  • When typos are outlawed, only outlaws will make typos!
  • So you can't have a mispelling, but you CAN have a [] instead of a (why bother hyperlinking the second?) I fail to see the distinction.
  • by Erasmus Darwin ( 183180 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:27AM (#143338)
    Where does the difference lie between a 'typo' and a fair use parody.

    That's a distinction made by the courts. In this case, the "Joe Cartoon" typo sites consisted of a bunch of banner ads for various products. It was only a few hours after being served with a "cease-and-desist" that the owner of the typo sites changed them to a poorly written "political protest against Joe Cartoon". The judge saw through such a shallow ploy and issued some judicial smack-down against the defendant.

    I really recommend reading the judgement (if you can get through the Slashdotting). It's a bit annoying in that they did a bad job converting it to ASCII (footnotes seem to be where each original page ended), but the language isn't particularly lawyerish and the judge clearly and concisely enumerates the legal standards that needed to be satisfied.

  • I always get [] confused with [].

    It's annoying because the second site (I want the first one) is very slow to load, even with a fast connection, and stopping the download freezes my entire workstation for a few seconds... Grrr.

    Yoko 99
  • Why do you have to condone abortion as a libertarian? If you believe that a fetus is a living human being, then abortion is murder, and libertarian or no, should be illegal. Now then, I don't happen to believe that, but I don't see any inconsistency in being a pro-life libertarian.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • by brown_out ( 184995 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:30AM (#143341)
    A lot of talk has been made that this will trash free speech and allow companies to shut down parody sites. I really don't see the connection here. For example, I remember when was a porn site. That would be an example of typosquatting. The name of the web site has nothing to do with the content and was only picked because it closely resemebles the name of another more famous web site. This person hoped to generate traffic solely through the mistakes of web surfers.
    On the other hand, parodies are pretty obvious. The content has everything to do with the name of the web site (i.e. www.f* sp?). To say that this case is about shutting doen parody sites is pretty shortsighted. That's just my 2 cents.
  • 2600 registered and redirected it to GM until they were told to stop by GM.

    2600 then redirected to Ford as a joke. Ford slapped them with a lawsuit without any warning. [] fights injustice in the Electronic Fronteir and routinely seems to challenge rights to privacy.

    Go buy a t-shirt...


  • Will the US Gov't now sue [] b/c of []???
  • Zuccarini's sites featured advertisements for other sites and for credit card companies. Visitors were trapped or"mousetrapped" in the sites, which, in the jargon of the computer world, means that they were unable to exit without clicking on a succession of advertisements.

    He, People who can not type (fat finger syndrome),
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbspdeserve to click banners!

  • That's not cybersquatting, and not what was going on in the case. As far as I can tell, Mr. Salte is making bona fide use of the domain name and not using it in a way that would infringe on the Slate mark. What Mr. Zuccarini was doing was taking misspellings of Mr. Shields' domain name and trying to sell them to Mr. Shields--classic bad faith cybersquatting in violation of the ACPA.
  • I find the ruling to have a lot of ambiguous statements which I believe could have turned the court's decision one way or the other.
    [W]e conclude that "Joe Cartoon" is distinctive, and, with 700,000 hits a month, the web site "" qualifies as being famous. Therefore, the trademark and domain name are protected under the ACPA.
    It's distinctive perhaps, but does 700,000 hits/month qualify as being famous? And famous to what people? I view this as a weak link in the case because being famous is very relative and the application of the ACPA relies on this fame. For instance, I think The Onion or Slashdot is "famous", but considering virtually everyone where I work (a software company) has never heard of them, is that to say they aren't famous? I surely can't decide one way or the other.
    The domain names,,, and -- closely resemble "," with a few additional or deleted letters, or, in the last domain name, by rearranging the order of the words. To divert Internet traffic to his sites, Zuccarini admits that he registers domain names, including the five at issue here, because they are likely misspellings of famous marks or personal names. 4 The strong similarity between these domain names and persuades us that they are "confusingly similar." Shields also produced evidence of Internet users who were actually confused by Zuccarini's sites.
    Ok, here the ambiguity is obvious. They conclude that the domain names are "confusingly similar," which I agree with, but where can the line between "confusingly similar" and "not similar enough" be drawn? I have no real opinion on that answer, but the question definitely begs to be asked.
    Just my random thoughts on this.
    If there were gods, how could I bear to be no god?
  • Lol, it's just too obvious that you ain't a regular goatse-er... They never put in the www. part...
  • So you have two domains: and (for example): which one is the type for which?

    Just because was registered first, maybe there's been a company called slashdo for years, and just now created a website.

    Hey, if you want to protect your brand name, register all the typos you can think of yourself, and stop bitching. If someone beat you to it, good for them.


  • Hrmm. You wouldn't, by any chance, _work_ for a domain name registrar, would you?

    Nah. Couldn't be.
  • by ( 142825 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:39AM (#143350) Homepage
    Take a look at Mattel v. MCA Records -- the Barbie Girl case.

    The court went stated that you could not use trademark or copyright to silence critism or satire. It also discussed the Cat In the Hat/OJ parody.

  • To divert Internet traffic to his sites, Zuccarini admits that he registers domain names ... because they are likely misspellings of famous marks or personal names

    here is where the ambiguity disappears. If you say you did it to get diverted traffic, then you have already drawn the line for the court.

  • I'm sure there'll be plenty of comments here about people not realizing they've mistyped the URL...but what about people who don't even visit the site? For example, my Post Cereal Online article at didn't raise the furor that Surviving the Boy Band did (and does), but one person emailed me to complain about some Raisin Bran. Now, does [] look anything like the actual Post site? No. I finally determined that this person had typed something akin to "Post Cereal Online" in a search engine (we're #5 for that search on Google :) and simply taken my email addy from the abstract. We can pass all the laws and make all the precedent we want, but we can't possibly make the Net safe for people as ignorant as that.

    Even scarier, said person [] appeared to be using a military (Air Force) account...

  • by VValdo ( 10446 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:41AM (#143353)
    So will the next suit be BMI suing IBM for typosquatting? They can call the ACLU, who won't be able to take the case because they're suing UCLA.

    If someone mistypes an URL, that's their problem. As long as the page itself doesn't misrepresent itself, then all URLs are fair game. When I register a domain name, I'm not registering all the domain names with slightly different spellings.. am I? If I own "" can I sue "" for typosquatting?

  • what's your point?

    who decides if it is murder or self-defense?
    who decides if it is stealing or borrowing?
    who decides whether cigarette ads are deception or just ordinary propaganda?
    who decides if microsoft is abusing it's power as a monopoly or just trying to stay competitive in the marketplace?

    there are decisions like this being made in the courts all the time. in every one of its cases the supreme court decides if a particular act qualifies as a freedom or if it should be punished as a felony.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not a good thing. Even in theory. A name that is different, even by one character, is a different name. So long as you don't try to pretend to be what the alternate spelling is for or sell products for the same market (thus diluting the brand name), you are not infringing at all. For a typo to be held illegal in general is a very poor precedent. That being said, like probably everyone here, I have not read the article linked to. I am guessing if this is a free-speech favorable court, as the poster opines, that their ruling is a very narrow one based on a company intentionally trying to mislead or dilute the ownership of the mark, and not typo names in general.

    Yep, I was right. I went to read the article. Multiple names _sounding_ just like the mark and two with merely an added 's' constitute the squatting. And the squatting was very obvious and poorly done - he mousetrapped visiting users forcing them to click multiple banner ads. In this case it's pretty obvious there was bad faith. The court applied the relevent law in a very specific manner and did not create any significant precedent as the story poster so wanted to get us all worried about.,,, and
  • You will be hard pressed to find a more ardent supporter of free speech or opponent of copyright and patent abuses than I.

    Nevertheless, I must object to anyone who frames this case a free speech issue. Just because an action requires the use of words does not make it speech.

    I would fervently defend anyone who used the domain name because they are using the domain name to make a point. That is speech and should be free.

    On the other hand, I would not defend a person who registered and used it to pitch ads. Such a person is not using the domain name to express themselves but rather to make a quick buck from the misfortunes of bad typists. That does not constitute speech and should not be framed as a free speech issue.

    That said, I do not have an opinion as to whether such actions should be legal, but they certainly should not be protected by the First Amendment.

    On the other hand, the guy in this article did something else that I consider a mortal sin: mouse trapping.

    I swear they don't come any more liberal than I, but if I had my way there would be a law requiring any business or individual, who uses mouse trapping and pop-up windows, to be banned from the internet forever.

    Can you imagine walking into a brick and mortar store and deciding that you did not like the products. You turn to walk out the door and are physically restrained and required to browse the store once more just in case there actually was something you liked. Then when you finally make it out the front door you realize that it is just a worm hole to the back door and you just can't seem to get out!

  • good try.. but I work for I have tried to make this point to my boss many times when we have had disputes over domain names.
  • [] just keeps a counter of who commited a typo error. It's owned by "Patrick Michael Kane (SLSAHDOT-DOM)" I'm not sure if that's the same 'Micheal' from slashdot. Does anybody know anything else about this, or if slashdot (or the OSDN/VA people) want to go after them?

    Personally, I kinda like the site... It's funny to see how many other people typed wrong that day.
  • Any time the government moderates, its generally a bad idea. Besides, if the typo sites aren't causing monetary or physical damage, then they should be protected by the 1st amendmant.
  • More like:

    hank williams jr sings the songs of

    ...which actually happened and, legally speaking, flew just fine (probably because Hank Sr was dead at the time). (Incidentally, I just can't call Hank Williams Jr 'Junior' anymore.)

    Or maybe:

    (insert a page of advertising drivel)

    ...which I get in my mailbox every week.

    Defamation, slander, copyright violation, theft of services, misapropriation of trademark, and the like are already crimes. Taking advantage of people who can't spell (and obviously can't bookmark either) isn't.

    Note: I'm not taking a side on whether it's "right".

    The real Threed's /. ID is lower than the real Bruce Perens'.

  • Go read the review, it was a case of misreprensetation.
  • I don't see any inconsistency in being a pro-life libertarian

    ISTR that there is in fact a pro-life faction within the Libertarian Party, but they have never been numerous enough to get a pro-life plank into the party's official platform.

  • "White House" isn't a trademark. There's your distinction.
  • If you read the judgement, you will see it is only illegal if the person doing the typosquatting is profiting from it. In this case the typosqatter was ONLY profiting from the domains through mouse trapping and ads. When the owner of told him to stop, thats when the typosquatter changed his web pages to make it look like he was criticizing for being violent and bad for little kids, in an effort probably to ward off the lawsuit.
  •, nice bookstore. don't go there from work, or be prepared to kill off all browser tasks very quickly. It's just ridiculous. Looking for a book on herb gardens, but wait! what's this?! I think I'll just buy some porn instead. Right.
  • Harry Browne ran as pro-life
  • Are they saying that I have to give up ownership of BritainnySpeersHavingOralSexxWithChristinaAgalara. com to the rightful legitimate owner of m?

  • Well, if you registered one domain name "", and if you had significant parody elements on it, that would be one thing.

    But if you registered 3000 domain names, including 5 variations on "slashdot", 10 variations on "freshmeat", 3 variations on "userfriendly", et cetera, and all of your domains had lots of credit card ads with 10 pop-windows on exit, and basically all you did with all your domain names is run sites like that ... you aren't commenting on slashdot, you aren't providing any value to anybody.

    Read the decision and see what the guy was actually doing.

  • This is not just an issue for the online world. Another example that is quite similar is all the companies that register toll-free numbers based on typos. For example, 1-800-OPERATOR is run by (I believe) MCI. Some of their competitors (AT&T I believe) then went out and grabbed several 800 numbers that were common mis-spellings/typos such as 1-800-OPRATOR, etc. There are several other examples that evade me right now. I guess that must be OK because it is big "legit" companies and not pr0n sites ;)
  • At long last, I now know that no one will profit from my typing of "" several times a day. ;)
  • I'm sorry, but I should be allowed to own whatever domain I want. How can you claim it's fair to have a domain entitled, yet not
  • by Illserve ( 56215 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @10:56AM (#143372)
    Every time rights get trampled, it starts with a fairly reasonable restriction that is approved without thought of the consequence.

    So the big deal is not this case, typo squatting for porn is something we'd all be better off without. Rather it's the consequences that you alude to regarding parody, and a dozen other cases that could be dreamt of once the precedent was set.

  • And yet in your example one group of people have a risk of personal injury, and another wastes 5 seconds of their time. To somehow imply that each of these assualts is equal is itself dishonest. No? Oh, as for typos, coming for one of the worst spellers our species has ever produced, I've never accidently stumbled on over to Swedish Erotic Goat Massage during the course of looking for anything. But to those unable or unwilling to use a bookmark, well thems the breaks. Why typosquatting is just negative reinforcement with the laudible aim to improve everyones spelling.
  • um, what is "Joe Cartoon" anyway? What's the typo?
  • > Most of the things which Americans and others accept as rights are actually priviliges - free speech. They have been granted by the state; they do not exist by default.

    Bullshit. I'm free to say whatever I want. I don't need your permission ("privilige" aka "license") to talk.

    Does the government create people, or do people create the government?

    If people create the government, then the sovereign people ALREADY HAVE those right(s) (to free speech, to travel, etc.)

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; []
  • At first I thought this was a great thing, the more I think about it the more I realize that this is a bad idea.

    What constitutes a typo ( 1,2,3,4 letters?, arranged together?, etc)?

    What about freedom of speach or parody?

    I think this is a idea that in its basic sense is appealing, but in its thought out implications is damning.
  • Will this extend beyond internet? Will we see alpine car stereo suing alphine car audio for ripping off there name? it
    is well known that alphine produced car audio amps using the name to confuse people looking for alpine equipment.
    This kind of stuff has been going on for as long as there have been companies. It has been fine and legal until now!
    how does the internet change it? The whole point of this is to attempt to procure some one else's customers.

    alpine --> alphine (Car Audio)
    camel --> Kamel (Smokes)
    Kool --> Cool (Smokes)

    Then Again I am left wondering who has the right to Oreilly auto parts or oreilly publishing. The
    same with Apple computers or apple records..

    The government and in some cases the people have overstepped there bounds. Everyone is looking for laws to fix the
    problem and the solution is not more laws. It is simply applying the existing laws to the new medium.

  • So does his mean that if a company that registers a domain name (let's say "") can deny other poeple from having a domain name that is made up of the letters of the "" domain so that,, and all the other anagrams would be illegal to use for a company selling similar services or products to bigcorp?
  • Yeah, but what's the precedent and how will it be interpreted by lower courts?

  • I remember typing (almost certain taht was the exact spelling), and entering slashdot, plus a framed banner at the bottom. Cant find it now. What ever happened to it??
  • These are basic elements of trademark law.

    It's distinctive perhaps, but does 700,000 hits/month qualify as being famous? And famous to what people? I view this as a weak link in the case because being famous is very relative and the application of the ACPA relies on this fame. For instance, I think The Onion or Slashdot is "famous", but considering virtually everyone where I work (a software company) has never heard of them, is that to say they aren't famous? I surely can't decide one way or the other.

    This is elaborated on in section 43(c)(1) of the Lanham Act:

    In determining whether a mark is distinctive and famous, a court may consider factors such as, but not limited to--

    (A) the degree of inherent or acquired distinctiveness of the mark;
    (B) the duration and extent of use of the mark in connection with the goods or services with which the mark is used;
    (C) the duration and extent of advertising and publicity of the mark;
    (D) the geographical extent of the trading area in which the mark is used;
    (E) the channels of trade for the goods or services with which the mark is used;
    (F) the degree of recognition of the mark in the trading areas and channels of trade of the mark's owner and the person against whom the injunction is sought;
    (G) the nature and extent of use of the same or similar marks by third parties; and
    (H) whether the mark was registered under the Act of March 3, 1881, or the Act of February 20, 1905, or on the principal register.
    Ok, here the ambiguity is obvious. They conclude that the domain names are "confusingly similar," which I agree with, but where can the line between "confusingly similar" and "not similar enough" be drawn? I have no real opinion on that answer, but the question definitely begs to be asked.

    Likelihood of confusion takes up a good chunk of my trademarks casebook. Most trademark cases use survey evidence to show that consumers are actually confused. In the absence of evidence of actual confusion, the courts draw the line to fit the equities of the case. That, after all, is their job.

  • So does his mean that if a company that registers a domain name (let's say "") can deny other poeple from having a domain name that is made up of the letters of the "" domain so that,, and all the other anagrams would be illegal to use for a company selling similar services or products to bigcorp?

    No (at least, not under the law). Anagrams aren't all confusingly similar: isn't going to be mistaken for If there's no association with the mark, there's no infringement.

  • err... actually this changed about 3 years ago. is now PETA's site. [] is the one you mentioned.
  • Imagine that I own the domain (currently owned but not in use, btw), and I name two of my hosts in Pepsi and Coca. This would give me two hosts, one called, and the other called Could this be taken as cybersquating/typosquating, even if and my two hosts were legitimately serving webpages for the "Canadian OnLine Alliance" (COLA)?
  • Camel and Kamel are owned by the same company. Don't know about the others, but if they're not and they haven't let too much time go by then they could have sued even before this decision. (Maybe they've decided it's not worth the time or money.)
  • by Alien54 ( 180860 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @11:16AM (#143386) Journal
    I really dislike it if someone comes along and tries to piggy-pack on my work, good bad, or otherwise. If I donate my work to Open source, that is one thing. But straight ripoffs - ugh.

    An example in point is the Darwin Awards. There is the Original Darwin Awards [], done by a college student. This is the one that got the original fame. Then there is the copy cat Darwin Awards [] site who was better financed, and grabbed the URL first. So the college student sort of got plowed under.

    Guess where my sympathy lies.

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [] comic strip

  • Nobody made that claim. But better be used to say something about MSN, and not just cash in on consumer opinion.
  • I'm starting to think there is a need for the community to get toghether and attempt to formalize what is an abuse and what isn't and take the ball out of the courts where the letter of the law is often much to restrictive to properly address grey areas.

    If is illegal, then what about or etc...- whereas one might be blatant moneying of a company's brand equity, another might truly be free speech regarding the nature of that company. What constitutes a typo anyways? Many companies dont have english names: what about opposed to or (as opposed to

    I truly wish our legislative body would be more cautious in setting precendents with so many possible negative repercusions down the road.

    In fact, on another topic, it is a good subject of debate as to whether law as we know it is a flexible enough platform to carry society stabily over the next few hundred years. I begin with the assertion that since laws generally only grow in complexity and restritiveness, that there is a point in the future where it will be impossible for anyone to comply with the letter of any law and be effective. Feel free to comment.
  • Wait, let's see if I get this right. Cybersquatter dude registers a misspelled domain name, so that he can sell it to the owner of the correctly spelled domain, right? And THAT is considered free speech?

    Ohhh, I don't think so. I think the person with a real site who wants to catch the people who accidentally get the spelling wrong (but who intend to go to his/her site anyways) is the one who has something to say. The guy who is just sitting on a domain with a single static "Under our domain!" site does not, however, and could even be considered the real source of the problem. I love the ACLU, even though they can be annoying, but I wish they would realize once in a while that it's not necessarily the heavyweights in life who interfere with the rights of others.

  • by werdna ( 39029 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @11:24AM (#143391) Journal
    Well before the coinage of "typosquatting," companies have been "registering" misdialings of 800 numbers to obtain business, particularly messing with the zero-oh and 1-i typos. Under traditional rules, much depends upon how the typo is used, whether or not the conduct is actionable. To use the number to get initial customers without misleading them has been treated as OK, but to get the customer who thinks he is reserving a Holiday Inn resort, but is actually getting some free dive room in the same viscinity would be nasty.

    There was a sixth circuit case involving the use of 1-800-H-zero-LIDAY and 1-800-HOL-one-DAY for hotel reservations, when the customer was immediately notified that this was a budget, low-end reservation facility unrelated to HOLIDAY INNS. The sixth circuit held in that case that Holiday Inn lost.

    I haven't read the Third Circuit opinion, but it will be interesting to contrast the two results.
  • /me wonders about having to give up Rut-roa!
  • > err... actually this changed about 3 years ago. is now PETA's site. is the one you mentioned.

    Yes, but != just isn't the same.
  • Harry Browne's position, as I recall, was that while he, personally, was pro life, he didn't support a federal ban on it because restricting abortion isn't a power granted to the Federal government. Without making a judgement on abortion either way (I *do* have my opinion, though), its nice to see a candidate for Federal office who recognized that election doesn't mean blanket power to do whatever you damn well please. If only Bush, Clinton, McCain, Kennedy, Daschle, and friends would realize the same thing, we'd be much better off.
  • No, he IS pro-life, but towed the party line because otherwise he would not have been nominated, and he's content to let it be a state issue.

    The only "intuitive" interface is the nipple. After that, it's all learned.
  • But they do. It's just that the anarcho-libertarian crowd has a short-sighted view of "monetary or physical damage" (at least when it's someone else's).

    Typo sites cause monetary damage to the trademark holders because they take away hits. They cause monetary damage to the consumers whose time and resources are wasted. They cause monetary damage to society because they increase the transaction costs required to create informed consumers.

  • I didn't see mentioned anywhere in the decision that similar stuff has been done with phone numbers, and has had no legal trouble there. The specific case (see here [] was MCI grabbing 1-800-OPERATER and using it to grab business away from AT&T's 1-800-OPERATOR. Rather than suing MCI, AT&T dumped 1-800-OPERATOR and moved to 1-800-CALL-ATT.
  • Am I going to get busted because could be construed to be a typo of This is just silly.


    What if Cardinal Secola moves up in the ranks of the Catholic church and eventually becomes Pope. Would Pepsi sue him for his web site?

  • Comments on Interim Report - by

    I set up after I heard about domains being unjustly taken. In one case, a little girl's dad got for her, Archie Comics decided they wanted to grab it. Veronica is a character in that comic, so they did not want the little girl to use her own name.

    World Intellectual Piracy Organization - Comments on WIPO Interim Report (12 April 2001)

    The reader will judge for themselves, decide if the beliefs enclosed in this response and on [] are truth or hot air. You are welcome to try disproving these logical findings. The USPTO and DoC could not.

    Please concentrate on the points raised - not the poor writing style. Do not be diverted from these points.

    This addresses that which the authorities hide - the solution to trademark and domain name problems.

    The authorities and legal profession do not to want it solved, for reasons of money and power - which is why I email interested parties.

    The Internet is so important for many things - including people getting their voice heard. This Interim Report is for another small-minded, control-freakery, anti-libertarian policy, designed (amongst other reasons below) to stop free speech.

    Trademarks have ® symbol placed after them for a reason. Why then, do they not use new TLD of .REG for this?

    ® symbol is warning, to advise the public that the mark is federally registered and their use provides legal benefits - []

    What about trademarks 'raison d'être'? - Do you know what it is?

    They are to identify source - NOT to claim world rights to a word or words.

    To use Attorneys words, "The basic tenet of trademark law is to protect consumers and trademark owners from confusion in the marketplace".

    Most of the current problems are due to the authorities perverted and twisted sense of protectionism towards big business trademarks.

    Most trademarks share its name or initials with many others. When authorities could put trademark identity beyond shadow of doubt, they are either devoid of intelligence or corrupt.

    What other reason is there?

    Brief comment on some of WIPO replies received:

    Some give sycophantic congratulations on your success - do they mean success of:

    a) Usurping domain from the original legal owner?
    b) Giving one trademark holder dominance, over others with the same name?

    Proprietary - Belonging to a proprietor. Proprietor - An owner; one who has legal right to anything. So, how can you legally stop anybody using these [Non proprietary] words?

    Geographical - "" etc. The DNS is like a giant library index system. Do they claim I.P. rights and royalties from books written about these places? They will be claiming I.P. rights on maps next.

    IGOs - Protection will only censor public criticism and allow them to abuse power.

    Personal Names - It is not justice that any one person has sole right to use of a name. Out of principle, the reason I did not take My name is as important to me, as yours is to you. I RECOGNISE that others may have the same name as me - and that others may wish to make critical comment. There is solution to the famous having own domain name.

    Trade Names - More of the same. Abuse of power - when you know the answer.
    Main arguments are best summarized in my response to Nominet UK []. They are Registry for .uk Internet Domain Names. The Dispute Resolution Service went under review [].

    Sent 30 March 2001 to Nominet UK:

    Garry Anderson
    World Intellectual Piracy Organization (

    Response to Review of Dispute Resolution Service

    The WIPO represents just plain common sense and logical intelligence on topic of Internet management. Ability further demonstrated on other subjects at (though you may not like what I say there) [skilful is proper English spelling ;-) mentioned so that critics could not pass me off as somebody of low intelligence (tried before)]. The following is considered and informed opinion - after looking at all the facts. See if you agree with me.

    WIPO is defending the rights of domain owners worldwide. So obviously - not the same WIPO that is part of UN just looking after big business (coincidentally paid by them). Though they are certainly biased, I would not accuse them of being corrupt (with only circumstantial evidence).

    This solution has been put to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and Department of Commerce - during discussions neither could deny my assertions. It was common sense that the authorities already must have known the simple logical answer.

    First, I wish to make comment on the response from IP Litigation Group [] - Field Fisher Waterhouse, supporting ICANN's UDRP. There is so much I wish to say, but will cut it very short.

    To quote them, "As to the inconsistency of decisions being handed down under the UDRP, it is still early days and, as more decisions are made and precedents are adopted, the decision-making will become more uniform."

    Saying [and read in context], "...we believe that trade mark protection is of paramount importance", they unashamedly admit their decisions are biased. This is nothing more than a confession they are becoming more uniformly prejudiced.

    A fact for you: domain names are not trademarks - ask Paul Mockapetris, creator of Domain Name System.

    However, as authorities know, domain names could be made compatible with trademarks.

    ICANN's UDRP has shown this Dispute Resolution process is totally unworkable and unjust.

    Though the authorities SAY they have good ideals - to protect trademarks on the Internet - this is a barefaced LIE. Only those unable to progress ideas through to conclusion would believe them.

    They only give certain trademarks an illegal dominant position and create a 'cash cow' for their friends in the legal profession. This is demonstrably true and was the obvious intention. Those in pocket of big business would say otherwise.

    Most businesses fail to realise, their domain could be victim of reverse hijacking by bigger business, at any time in the future. They will never be safe, even after investing ALL into their business - the most important part of their business, their identity, could be stolen from them.

    The only solution is to have restricted TLDs. For example, Nissan cars tried to take from Mr Nissan - it makes sense to reserve .car TLD for carmakers - they can then use It has to be on a 'first come - first served' basis.

    There is one main cause for all these problems. The authorities are deliberately managing the system so that domain names are not compatible to trademarks. They do so for reasons based on money and power, without any sense of Justice. To explain:

    Nearly ALL trademarks share a common word(s) with many others - even in same country. For example, in the dispute case of etoy and eToys (e prefix for Internet) - 1,685 trademarks share common word "toy" in USA alone [879 live]. There are tens of thousands of them in 200 other countries. Logical, therefore, that ALL cannot use slight variations on this common word (as domain name) - else it would "infringe" upon others and cause "consumer confusion".

    Those with a brain can see, nearly all domain names "infringe" upon others and cause "consumer confusion" - it is just bull* excuse.

    Making it worse still - they let only one of these businesses use this common word - so ALL the others cannot. This is against "unfair competition" laws. BUT, what makes it really bad - the authorities know the answer to avoid this and are allowing businesses to break this law.

    It gets even worse (is this possible?). Though the naming system is not just for trademarks, authorities are taking these common words from the legal owners. These people had the intelligence to buy these common words first. The authorities and big business are stealing the "Intellectual Property" of these individuals.

    As shown, most trademarks cannot have their name - so nearly ALL visitors are going to arrive at the wrong location and ALL get "confused" anyway. So "consumer confusion" and "infringement" are just excuse, obvious lies, used to take away the domain from legal owner. These are problems inherent in the system - entirely the fault of authorities.

    All these cases, in the courts and before WIPO, are based on lies and propaganda. I am amazed so many intelligent people have been taken in. [Obviously, some hide the lie - for self interest].

    Something to note. They all do not want it solved; you will only see objections from them. Even the 'good guys' (defending the little guy) are making a lot of money from these disputes. Their arrogant refusal to publicly recognize mandatory requirements is contemptible.

    Mandatory Requirements:

    1 Trademark Name
    2 Classification
    3 Country
    4 Identifier - suggest Top Level Domain of .REG

    The format for customer to identify source (the reason for trademarks):

    This acts as certificate of authentication and directory - if you can use the telephone, then you can use dot REG. Small businesses need not go broke buying hundreds of domains, trying to protect every slight variation of trademark in every TLD [trademark tax].

    If business wants to use for advertising and marketing purposes on the Internet - this is legal usage. To use it as currently used (to dominate over other trademarks), is illegal usage. It requires class, country and identifier - i.e. Apple Computers could use for trademark identity - using for marketing.

    It is logical, that they all are issued with a domain name with each trademark - in format - the same as trademark rights issued.

    There need be no restrictions put on a company whatsoever - they can use any number of .com/.biz etc. domains - for advertising and marketing purposes.
    There are laws in place should Mr Nissan try to pass himself off as Nissan Cars on his Big business is using Dispute Resolution to dominate this word space. Anyway, the consumer knows it is not the car people - if they are not redirected to

    There are laws in place for libel should anyone make such unlawful remarks on any of these sites. They object to any criticism and are using Dispute Resolution to abridge the freedom of speech.

    It is nothing complicated. Guardians of the Internet with all your so-called experts, if you still do not understand, contact - I will draw you a picture. However, you knew all this already - or are you admitting to gross incompetence?

    The main reasons they want Dispute Resolution to go on:

    1 Big business gets more power abusing their trademark.
    2 Guardians of the Internet get more importance.
    3 Lawyers and trademark protection companies get rich.
    4 Domain registration companies get rich from trademarks protecting mark.
    5 Small businesses go broke with big business taking identity - less competition for them.
    6 They muffle criticism of them - abridging the freedom of speech.
    7 Kids (and grown-ups) are stopped from making fan sites.

    In conclusion, to reiterate - domain names are not trademarks. Millions of TLD are possible. I call for Nominet UK to put pressure on ICANN, first for the introduction of .REG to stop most of these problems. From there, new restricted TLDs to stop other disputes, examples .CAR and .ACTOR - it is just plain common sense.

  • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Monday June 18, 2001 @12:52PM (#143414) Homepage Journal
    Blockquoth the poster:
    Every time rights get trampled, it starts with a fairly reasonable restriction that is approved without thought of the consequence.

    So the big deal is not this case, typo squatting for porn is something we'd all be better off without. Rather it's the consequences that you alude to regarding parody, and a dozen other cases that could be dreamt of once the precedent was set.

    While your hesitation is understandable, both the judge and the Act explicitly allow "fair use" defenses, and the judge specifically investigated whether the defendant's claim of "protest site" was valid. This implies that, had it been a legitimate protest site (and not a hurriedly retconned one), that would have sufficed.

    The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, but we don't have to mistrust everything.

  • There's a "Holiday Inn" [] in Niagara Falls that's not a Holiday Inn franchise. There is a long, bizarre history that basically forces Bass Hotels [] (The Holiday Inn you're familiar with) not to sue the HI Niagara Falls, probably because HI Niagara Falls existed first and they settled the trademark issue. As a result, they have similar phone numbers and similar domain names, too. I suspect that if either took serious court action against the other, the judge would have to refer to their original settlement to share the trademark.

    I worked for Bass Hotels HI guest relations, and this was a training issue: "I booked a reservation at your Niagara Location..."

  • > In exchange for safety, it is illegal to yell "Fire" in a theater that is not actually on fire. You can't mention guns and bombs at the airport security checkpoint.

    Those examples you listed are NOT examples of free speech.

    The difference in these cases is that you are on someone else's *property*. They are free to make whatever rules they want. n []

    Bringing this back on topic: No one *owns* the internet, so the court ruling that typosquatting is illegal, is like saying that the government has the exclusive rights and jurisdiction to domain names (e.g. you are on their property.) which they allow others to use. That's complete nonsense.

    > Heck, the airport checkpoint itself is a limitation on interstate commerce.

    Now, that is certainly interesting. Have any links where I can read up more on that?

  • If it's publicly used ( is) then it's subject to trademark law. is a stupid idea anyway. It circumvents the whole way DNS works, and the only time I almost installed it was when some gay app tried to install it without telling me.
  • The typosquatter testified that he made between $800,000 and ONE MILLION dollars per year from the ads on his 3,000 sites.

    Does anybody else read this and feel like they've been hit about the head with a large gold brick ? (and not even a slice of lemon...)

  • In this case, I think the distinction between fair use and trying to profit off Joe Cartoon in a underhanded way were obvious.

    But as cases like this become decided, those who have less then nobel goals will ride that line far closer.

    What if, for example, they developed a well constructed critique of Joe Cartoon before going live, which sat along side the banner ads and pop-ups. Our best guess is the intent would still have been to profit off the mispelling.

    But the owner of the rogue sites could just as easily say the intent was to provide commentary or satire, and simply added the advertisments just as many other commerical websites use agressive advertising to cover expenses. Using advertisments to suppliment the cost of content in and of itself is not illegal.

    I see us reaching a very fine line between nefarious misuse of typo squatting and legitiment free speech. How are we going to end up deciding if a site's advertisments are secondary to it's content, or the otherway around. The law's only recourse is to employ common sense on a case by case basis . . . but how often does that happen?

  • Imagine that I own the domain (currently owned but not in use, btw), and I name two of my hosts in Pepsi and Coca. This would give me two hosts, one called, and the other called Could this be taken as cybersquating/typosquating, even if and my two hosts were legitimately serving webpages for the "Canadian OnLine Alliance" (COLA)?

    I think you are probably brighter than that. There is no reason to use those names except to make an semi inside joke, so why would someone running a legitamate site risk getting everyone who types "pepsi cola" into Google showing up on his site and getting confused. There is no reason for it to be "protected" except to give you one chance to shange the names and say "sorry".

    Have we reached the point where silly jokes having nothing to do with your site, their site or anything else HAVE to be protected? I know satire is protected, but I have my doubts on throwaway puns.

    Kahuna Burger

  • In December 1999, Shields sent "cease and desist" letters to Zuccarini regarding the infringing domain names.

    Zuccarini did not respond to the letters. Immediately after Shields filed this suit, Zuccarini changed thefive sites to "political protest" pages and posted the following message on them:

    This is a page of POLITICAL PROTEST

    - Against the web site - is a web site that depicts the mutilation and killing of animals in a shockwave based cartoon format -- many children are inticed [sic] to the web site, not knowing what is really there and then encouraged to join in the mutilation and killing through use of the shockwave cartoon pr esented to them.

    - Against the domain name policys [sic] of ICANN -

    - Against the Cyberpiracy Consumer Protection Act -

    As the owner of this domain name, I am being sued by for $100,000 so he can use this domain to direct more kids to a web site that not only desensitizes children to killing animals, but makes it seem like great fun and games.

    I will under no circumstances hand this domain name over to him so he can do that.

    I hope that ICANN and Network Solutions will not assist him to attaining this goal.

    -Thank You-

    Goddamn right ! Protect our children ! Once, a teenage gerbil boy will enter a gerbil high school with a bag full of microwave ovens, and start microwaving gerbils randomly. close !
  • I see us reaching a very fine line between nefarious misuse of typo squatting and legitiment free speech. How are we going to end up deciding if a site's advertisments are secondary to it's content, or the otherway around.

    Well, to a degree, I think this issue has already been played out in non-computer-related court cases. For example, with Luther Campbell's parody of Roy Orbison's classic "Pretty Woman", you had a court ruling that even though the parody was used commercially, that didn't automatically negate the parody/fair-use provisions of the appropriate copyright law [Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994)]. Admittedly, that's relating to copyright instead of trademark (which is what typosquatting would most likely be).

    However, in the parts of the anti-typosquatting statue mentioned in the judgement, they specificially refer to a "bad faith" intent to profit. Within the criteria for "bad faith", the include (as one of the 9 or so factors of consideration) "(IV) the person's bona fide noncommercial or fair use of the mark in a site accessible under the domain name".

    What all this means, I have absolutely no clue. I think the best bet, if you were considering running a parody site, would be to ask a lawyer. But there's at least enough fuzziness there that I wouldn't lose sleep over the issue.

  • yet I don't recall any action in court against MCI

    Perhaps because "OPERATOR" for operators is generic?

To write good code is a worthy challenge, and a source of civilized delight. -- stolen and paraphrased from William Safire