Chicago (IL) – Cybersquatting is the act of registering a domain name like gogole.com or micrsofot.com, hoping to capitalize on the common misspellings of popular websites. According to the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), in 2008 a record number of complaints were filed about this “abusive registration of trademarks on the Internet”.
WIPO reported 2,329 cases were brought to their arbitration and mediation center, which is up 8% from 2007. An unsurprising 86% represented English language domain names. Since 2000, nearly 14,000 cases have been filed with WIPO.
Cybersquatting looks for high traffic from websites receiving huge numbers of hits, betting on the fact that many users will manually type in the URL incorrectly and wind up at some destination page which is completely unrelated to, and often quite contrary to, the intended page.
Some cybersquatting cases in 2008 involved basketball legend Dennis Rodman, Scarlett Johansson (a film star) and the popular kid’s program Bob the Builder.
Both www.gogole.com and www.micrsofot.com, for example, are common mistakes and are actually owned by Google, Inc. and Microsoft Corporation, respectively, and are re-directed to their main search pages so as to not lose that traffic.
WIPO Deputy Director General Francis Gurry said, “Cybersquatting remains a serious issue for trademark holders,” as their reputation, products and known quality are all on the line by knock-off wannabes hoping to cash in on the popularity of other people’s hard work.