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Dotster Named in Massive Typo- / Cybersquatting Lawsuit

Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman Claim Abused Special Status as Registrar

     
6:15 pm on Jun 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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[news.com.com...]

A new federal lawsuit charges that Dotster, one of the largest domain name registrars, has unlawfully participated in a massive cybersquatting campaign targeting companies such as Cingular Wireless, Disney, Ikea, Google, Neiman Marcus, Playboy and Verizon.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by high-end retailers Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman, alleges that Dotster abused its status as a registrar by "checking out" hundreds of domain names that closely resemble the correct ones--and then keeping only the ones that were visited by Web users who couldn't spell very well.

While other registrars have been accused of this practice, and typosquatting has even been the target of a Microsoft Research project called "Typo-Patrol," this appears to be the first dispute with a registrar that's led to a lawsuit.

"What's unusual about (the allegation) is that it's not just any cybersquatter, it's a registrar, which is a problem," said Ann Ford, the managing partner of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary's Washington, D.C., office, who specializes in trademark and copyright law.

6:34 pm on June 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I for one am happy to see this action. This name buying crappola has to be taken head on. (I will say I am affected by not registering the maybe 200+ missplelling possibilities for a single domain I own)
8:23 pm on June 3, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Dotster as "the registrant", not just the registrar? If that's true that screams stupidity. If I was representing the plaintiffs I'd make a point of pressing the claim to judgment, with an eye towards bankrupting the responsible party. Indeed, given that humans run corporate bodies I wouldn't stop with naming the corporation. I'd go after those who were the planners of this extraordinarily dimwitted plan and bankrupt the whole bunch. This type of practice - if true that it was executed at the registrar level - gives the entire industry a black eye.

I've been waiting to see an effort to apply a broader remedy than the "1 domain at a time WIPO/NAF" approach. I've seen multi-domain WIPO filings, but they've focused on a single registrant. This is close to what I've envisioned, but I'm still waiting to see the PPC feed providers - who share in the profits of this ill-conceived practice - made a party.

Typosquatting is a Hydra like beast that you can only stop by cutting off all of its heads. In the case of famous mark typosquatting the heads include the registrants and the PPC feed providers or other income providers (affiliate programs, etc.) Kill the revenue stream and you kill the incentive for the practice.

An "artful" lawsuit must narrow the focus to clear, non-generic word/phrase, domain typo registrations, ones that are then matched with keywords and keyword phrases on PPC landers indisputably designed to exploit the brand's errant clientele.

It would be palpably disingenuous to argue that variations of "Neiman Marcus" or "Burgdort Goodman" typos are generic, especially when the landers attempt to exploit the interests of those brand's traffic.

7:47 pm on June 5, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Typosquatting is a Hydra like beast that you can only stop by cutting off all of its heads.

And burn 'em to make sure they don't grow back again. :)

It'll be interesting to see how this goes. Like will dotster settle, move to Panama or Kenya, etc. :D

2:29 pm on June 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am glad to see such a case filled out.
There are a number of other rules which Registrar are violating periodical.

By the way,there was a big scandale a few years ago with Dotster,due to a technical mistake they made thouzands of customers credit crads information open for public

4:19 pm on June 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Burgdorf Goodman

Burgdort Goodman

Since Neiman Marcus wasn't misspelled, I assume these typos in the thread are unintentional. To quote Bart Simpson, "the ironing is delicious".

Maybe Bergdorf Goodman ought to wake up and smell the coffee - the age of knowing how (or bothering) to spell correctly is over. They need a better name for their web presence. A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests there are more potential typos for their name than there are atoms in the universe.

10:32 pm on June 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Since Neiman Marcus wasn't misspelled, I assume these typos in the thread are unintentional.

I caught it as soon as I posted it. Unfortunately, this points-out a minor flaw in the WebmasterWorld software - the author can edit a posting, but not the title of the posting.

11:32 pm on June 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Anyway it certainly wasn't my goal to take a shot at you or Webwork for not spelling well. It just seem like an apt time to point out that their name is kind of hard-to-remember, hard-to-pronounce, and hard-to-spell, and their domain is long and has to be guessed at (bergdorfgoodman vs. bergdorf-goodman vs. bergdorfs).

Guys, just give up already; change your name to Dorfster or Bergle or something.

11:56 pm on June 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

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a minor flaw in the WebmasterWorld

Sirs, you are mistaken. The software is flawless. I fail to see the error of which you speak. :-P

5:32 am on June 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

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" ... or Bergle or something"

Whicch rymes and would probably be typoed as "burgle";)

6:10 am on June 10, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Now it makes a sense to me

The domain which I wanted too was registered in the name of a korean. I used #*$! to find that nearly 21000 domain are registered using this company name

<snip>

And the real turing point is that all of them are registered with DOTSTER...

[edited by: Webwork at 1:39 pm (utc) on June 10, 2006]
[edit reason] WebmasterWorld TOS - Please no "outings" [/edit]

2:19 pm on June 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What happens if Dotster goes belly up?

Is now a good time to transfer domains out?

4:44 am on June 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, that's my question too Matt.

Does this mean we need to get out?

5:13 am on June 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Even if D doesn't go belly up, what neighborhoods are you associated with if you deal with them at all?
5:40 pm on June 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It surprising that no one mentioned DirectNIC

[en.wikipedia.org...]

The WIPO has ruled against them in over 200 domain name disputes, although it has also upheld their claim in a few others.

For instance Porsche isn't a directnic fan:
[arbiter.wipo.int...]

This type of thing has been going for awhile it appears to me.

7:51 pm on June 15, 2006 (gmt 0)

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It surprising that no one mentioned DirectNIC

Because this thread isn't about DirectNIC, although a lot of people (including me) suspect they and Dotster have been engaging in the same practice.