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Microsoft Sues 'Cybersquatters'

Microsoft has filed three lawsuits against "cybersquatters" who hope to profit from typo-misdirection-based pay-per-click advertising.

Microsoft Corp. said it has filed three lawsuits against "cybersquatters," in an effort to fight back against a surge of online trademark infringement by people seeking profit from pay-per-click advertising.

The Redmond, Wash., software giant said cybersquatters and typosquatters -- people who register Web addresses either with trademarked terms or with common misspellings in the hopes of luring Web surfers who mistype addresses into their browsers -- are now registering more than 2,000 domains each day targeting Microsoft.

The vast majority of the sites, which have addresses like "microsoftrebate.com," "xbox36com.com" and "msnfinance.com," are bought by professional operations that place nothing on the pages but pay-per-click ads served by online-ad networks, Microsoft said. About a quarter of the sites use privacy services to disguise their identities.

"Microsoft has witnessed a virtual land rush for Internet domain names with the goal of driving traffic for profit," said Aaron Kornblum, the company's Internet Safety Enforcement attorney. The company noticed the surge in sites earlier this year as part of its efforts to monitor so-called phishing sites, which mimic bank and other sites as part of identity-theft schemes.

In response, Microsoft filed two civil lawsuits Monday against four defendants it said are profiting from domain names that infringe on Microsoft trademarks. One filed in U.S. District Court in Utah alleges that Jason Cox of Albuquerque, N.M., Daniel Goggins of Provo, Utah, and John Jonas, of Springville, Utah, together registered 324 domain names targeting Microsoft. The defendants do business as Jonas and Goggins Studios LLC and Newtonarch LLC.

In the second suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, Microsoft alleges that Dan Brown of Long Beach, Calif., whose firm is Partner IV Holdings, registered 85 domain names targeting Microsoft.

The company also filed a "John Doe" lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington. The suit is aimed at identifying cybersquatters and typosquatters who conceal their identities, and Microsoft said it will soon issue subpoenas to domain-name registrars.

Microsoft argues that the Web sites are forbidden under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. That law, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1999, imposes fines of up to $100,000 in damages for anyone who, with bad-faith intent to profit, "registers, traffics in or uses a domain name that is identical to, confusingly similar or dilutive of" an existing trademark, according to Microsoft. The suits also cite state laws and common law forbidding unfair competition.

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Reader Comments:

Thu, Aug 31, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

UH.. when 1105 media makes 75$ MILLION from these 'fan sites' .. i think called them fans will be an understatement. They're just another money-grabbing commercial outfit with noses up in the sky.

Wed, Aug 30, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

If it were not Microsoft but another company, for example a gaming company, then the site would just be called a fan based site or somthing of that matter. Just as long as the site shows the trade marked terms still belong to the owner. Right?

Tue, Aug 29, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Using the logic of the previous anonymous posted, if micorsoft.com people then place a disclaimer that it is not the microsoft.com official site, is that not ok then? Why are the bigger companies not seen as crook players too? Even after surviving Enron and Worldcom, people don't seem to give a rat's ass about any of this... oh well, that's capitalism for us i guess.

Mon, Aug 28, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

As long as MCPMag.com says MCP is trademarked as a Microsoft acronym can't they still use it? As long as credt is given to Microsoft? But if MCPMag.com was calling it it's own acronym then there would be problems.

Fri, Aug 25, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

And oh by the way, why is MS not suing MCPMag.com ? Is MCP not one of their copyrighted acronyms for their popular certification title. I always thought MCPMag.com was owned by Microsoft, but now i realize it is not, and if that misunderstanding in itself can be shown by enough people, i think MCPMag.com is benefitting from association too by registering a similar name to a popular company product. I'm not a lawyer but hey, i thought i really post my mind as MCPMag.com wants it.

Fri, Aug 25, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Why can't Microsoft just go to www.wipo.int and present their case and get all domains transferred to them? It's a lot cheaper, requires only simple proof of three elements, and is binding on the registrars. Did MS hire some dufus lawyer who doesn't have a clue about this? Oh c'mon, if you need help, i'll write the case for you and for $1200 given to wipo.int , see what happens. I think the lawyers who files this feel really smart about this whole thing. Good luck proving domain name copyrights in court.

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