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Typosquatting Held Illegal

timothy posted more than 12 years ago | from the we-control-the-vertical dept.

The Courts 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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Tough ground for a libertarian (2)

KuRL (13889) | more than 12 years ago | (#143310)

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.

Yay, let's get that Norwegian Salte now! (1)

georgeha (43752) | more than 12 years ago | (#143311)

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

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

That's BS (1)

Tini Kanooo (454672) | more than 12 years ago | (#143312)

If I type in www.microdoft.com 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 www.fuckgeneralmotors.com.

Grow up, courts. -TK

Dammit! (2)

wizzy403 (303479) | more than 12 years ago | (#143313)

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!

Joecartoonsucks.com illegal? (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 12 years ago | (#143314)

I wonder if all the *sucks.com 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.

Uhh (4)

Auckerman (223266) | more than 12 years ago | (#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.....

What about parody (4)

interstellar_donkey (200782) | more than 12 years ago | (#143318)

Where does the difference lie between a 'typo' and a fair use parody. If I registered a domain called 'lashdot.org' 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?

This is... (3)

Deluge (94014) | more than 12 years ago | (#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.


Put it this way... (3)

The Gline (173269) | more than 12 years ago | (#143320)

If someone registered theglein.com 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."

Hm.. (2)

PopeAlien (164869) | more than 12 years ago | (#143321)

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 [monsantos.com] a typo or a parody? Am I going to get busted because PopeAlien.com [popealien.com] could be construed to be a typo of Pepsi.com [pepsi.com]?.. This is just silly.

Domain Name Selling is a for profit business (1)

bdlinux13 (232862) | more than 12 years ago | (#143323)

Internic, Register.com 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 google.com... for example if google does not want me to buy googl.com 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!

Re:What about parody (1)

Ardvaark (325147) | more than 12 years ago | (#143324)

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.

Typosquatting and New.net (2)

grovertime (237798) | more than 12 years ago | (#143325)

most of you probably know that new.net 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, slashdoy.com (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 new.net's offerings.

  1. is this.....is this for REAL? [mikegallay.com]

Re:What about parody (2)

jyuter (48936) | more than 12 years ago | (#143326)

I'm guessing the way they'd determine it is based on content. If you're a sports site, and you own something like espm.com, 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.

Re:What about parody (2)

Pahroza (24427) | more than 12 years ago | (#143328)

You bring up a valid point. This case is a bit different. The squatter registered a handful of misspellings of JoeCartoon.com 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

Re:heres a perfect example (1)

Weh (219305) | more than 12 years ago | (#143329)

the first thing that catches your eye on that page is a huge slashdot image/link. How is that to slashdot's disadvantage ?

Yummy (1)

pizen (178182) | more than 12 years ago | (#143330)

Just remember:
PETA.com != PETA.org
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals != People Eating Tasty Animals

Re:That's BS (1)

StenD (34260) | more than 12 years ago | (#143331)

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.

Re:Hm.. (1)

belroth (103586) | more than 12 years ago | (#143332)

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 wibble.com would that mean I can stop another comapny from using wobble.com? If so why, if not, why not?
In my opinion the fat lady ain't singing yet.

What About Translation Squatting? (2)

cybrpnk (94636) | more than 12 years ago | (#143333)

Next there will be a legal squabble if you are the first to register existing URLs in newly open languages like Japanese or Chinese [chinaonline.com]...

A sound decision (5)

pgpckt (312866) | more than 12 years ago | (#143334)

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.

Misrepresentation (4)

krugdm (322700) | more than 12 years ago | (#143335)

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.

Typos are bad, but ignorance is okay? (2)

sniglet999 (168561) | more than 12 years ago | (#143337)

So you can't have a mispelling, but you CAN have a whitehouse.com [whitehouse.com] instead of a whitehouse.gov? (why bother hyperlinking the second?) I fail to see the distinction.

Re:What about parody (5)

Erasmus Darwin (183180) | more than 12 years ago | (#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.

Re:Uhh (1)

Yoko99 (455572) | more than 12 years ago | (#143339)

I always get www.restaurant.ca [restaurant.ca] confused with www.restaurants.ca [restaurants.ca].

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

Abortion? (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 12 years ago | (#143340)

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.

Typosquatting vs parody (3)

brown_out (184995) | more than 12 years ago | (#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 espm.com 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*ckedcompany.com sp?). To say that this case is about shutting doen parody sites is pretty shortsighted. That's just my 2 cents.

Re:That's BS (2)

Tini Kanooo (454672) | more than 12 years ago | (#143342)

2600 registered fuckgeneralmotors.com 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.

www.2600.com [2600.com] fights injustice in the Electronic Fronteir and routinely seems to challenge rights to privacy.

Go buy a t-shirt...


Fat Finger Syndrome (1)

littleRedFriend (456491) | more than 12 years ago | (#143344)

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!

Re:Yay, let's get that Norwegian Salte now! (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143345)

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.

Vague Distinctions in the Ruling (2)

WhamJack (458041) | more than 12 years ago | (#143346)

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 "joecartoon.com" 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 --joescartoon.com, joecarton.com, joescartons.com, joescartoons.com and cartoonjoe.com -- closely resemble "joecartoon.com," 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 joecartoon.com 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?

Re:Dammit! (1)

keesh (202812) | more than 12 years ago | (#143347)

Lol, it's just too obvious that you ain't a regular goatse-er... They never put in the www. part...

What is a typo for what? (2)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 12 years ago | (#143348)

So you have two domains: www.slashdo.com and www.slashdot.com (for example): which one is the type for which?

Just because slashdot.com 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.


Re:Domain Name Selling is a for profit business (1)

Violet Null (452694) | more than 12 years ago | (#143349)

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

Nah. Couldn't be.

Re:What about parody (4)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 12 years ago | (#143350)

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.

Re:Vague Distinctions in the Ruling (2)

brown_out (184995) | more than 12 years ago | (#143351)

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.

Don't underestimate the AOLer... (5)

Monthenor (42511) | more than 12 years ago | (#143352)

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 gogeek.org 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 http://www.gogeek.org [gogeek.org] 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 [gogeek.org] appeared to be using a military (Air Force) account...

This is insane. (5)

VValdo (10446) | more than 12 years ago | (#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 "domain.net" can I sue "domain.com" for typosquatting?


Re:What about parody (1)

emok (162266) | more than 12 years ago | (#143354)

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.

Re:This is... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#143355)

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.

joescartoon.com, joecarton.com, joescartons.com, joescartoons.com and cartoonjoe.com

Not all Words are Speech (2)

stuccoguy (441799) | more than 12 years ago | (#143356)

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 microsoftsucks.com 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 microsotf.com 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!

Re:Domain Name Selling is a for profit business (1)

bdlinux13 (232862) | more than 12 years ago | (#143357)

good try.. but I work for www.bestdoctors.com.. I have tried to make this point to my boss many times when we have had disputes over domain names.

What happens to slsahdot.org? (2)

Klaruz (734) | more than 12 years ago | (#143358)

slsahdot.org [slsahdot.org] 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 slashdot.org wrong that day.

Where's Thomas Jefferson when you need him? (1)

Sogol (43574) | more than 12 years ago | (#143359)

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.

Re:Put it this way... (2)

Threed (886) | more than 12 years ago | (#143360)

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'.


Re:Abortion? (1)

Evil Grinn (223934) | more than 12 years ago | (#143362)

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.

Re:What about parody (1)

displacer (136053) | more than 12 years ago | (#143364)

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 joecartoon.com told him to stop, thats when the typosquatter changed his web pages to make it look like he was criticizing joecartoon.com for being violent and bad for little kids, in an effort probably to ward off the lawsuit.

Typo Squatting Has Gotten Out of Hand (1)

CodingFiend (236675) | more than 12 years ago | (#143365)

1bookstreet.com, nice bookstore. bookstreet.com... 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.

Re:Premier post (1)

Bobo the Space Chimp (304349) | more than 12 years ago | (#143367)

Are they saying that I have to give up ownership of BritainnySpeersHavingOralSexxWithChristinaAgalara. com to the rightful legitimate owner of BritneySpearsHavingOralSexWithChristinaAguilara.co m?

What about goddamn no-exit credit card sleazeballs (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 12 years ago | (#143368)

Well, if you registered one domain name "lashdot.org", 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.

Not just limited to the online world (2)

jrp2 (458093) | more than 12 years ago | (#143369)

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 ;)

I can breathe a sigh of relief (1)

-=OmegaMan=- (151970) | more than 12 years ago | (#143370)

At long last, I now know that no one will profit from my typing of "gogole.com" several times a day. ;)

How can you defend this and then back 2600? (1)

RiotXIX (230569) | more than 12 years ago | (#143371)

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 fuckmsn.com, yet not fcuckmsn.com?

the devil's in the details (3)

Illserve (56215) | more than 12 years ago | (#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.

Good example (1)

Kibo (256105) | more than 12 years ago | (#143373)

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.

Re:What you get if you abuse your rights. (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 12 years ago | (#143375)

> 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; [emory.edu]

Second Thought (1)

Mr. Buckaroo (75837) | more than 12 years ago | (#143376)

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.

Hmmm what about alphine? (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 12 years ago | (#143377)

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 www.oreilly.com.... Oreilly auto parts or oreilly publishing. The
same with www.apple.com.. 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.

anagrams? (1)

moksliukas (301561) | more than 12 years ago | (#143378)

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

Re:This is insane. (2)

VValdo (10446) | more than 12 years ago | (#143379)

Yeah, but what's the precedent and how will it be interpreted by lower courts?


salshdot.org (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 12 years ago | (#143380)

I remember typing salshdot.org (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??

Re:Vague Distinctions in the Ruling (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143381)

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.

Re:anagrams? (2)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143382)

So does his mean that if a company that registers a domain name (let's say "bigcorp.com") can deny other poeple from having a domain name that is made up of the letters of the "bigcorp.com" domain so that ibgcorp.com, bgicorp.com, 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: cgiprob.com isn't going to be mistaken for bigcorp.com. If there's no association with the mark, there's no infringement.

What constitutes typos? (1)

Lew Pitcher (68631) | more than 12 years ago | (#143384)

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

Re:Hmmm what about alphine? (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143385)

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.)

Other ripoffs? (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 12 years ago | (#143386)

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 [officialdarwinawards.com], done by a college student. This is the one that got the original fame. Then there is the copy cat Darwin Awards [darwinawards.com] 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 [eplugz.com] comic strip

Re:How can you defend this and then back 2600? (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143387)

Nobody made that claim. But fuckmsn.com better be used to say something about MSN, and not just cash in on consumer opinion.

Not obvious at all (1)

Vicegrip (82853) | more than 12 years ago | (#143388)

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 www.micrsoft.com is illegal, then what about www.moneysoft.com or www.borgcentral.com www.ms.com 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 www.4com.com(as opposed to www.3com.com)? or www.it-aint-cool.com (as opposed to www.aint-it-cool.com)?

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.

Hold on just a minute... (2)

Shoten (260439) | more than 12 years ago | (#143390)

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 Construction...buy 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.

Lots of law on the subject . . . (3)

werdna (39029) | more than 12 years ago | (#143391)

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.

Re:Yummy (1)

pizen (178182) | more than 12 years ago | (#143393)

> err... actually this changed about 3 years ago. peta.org is now PETA's site. http://www.mtd.com/tasty/ is the one you mentioned.

Yes, but PETA.com != www.mtd.com/tasty just isn't the same.

Re:Abortion? (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 12 years ago | (#143394)

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.

Re:Abortion? (1)

Galvatron (115029) | more than 12 years ago | (#143395)

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.

Re:Where's Thomas Jefferson when you need him? (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143396)

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.

Re:This is insane. (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143397)

The precedent that's set? If you register a domain name in bad faith, you can't weasel out of a lawsuit by throwing up a faux "political protest" on the page and claiming First Amendment protection thereby.

hmm, sounds like IKEA (1)

_avs_007 (459738) | more than 12 years ago | (#143398)

At least at the IKEA in Torrance, once you get in, you have to walk through the entire store to get out. The entrance is a pair of escalators that only goes up. Once you get ot the top, you have to walk through the entire top floor, go down a set of escalators, then walk through the entire bottom floor to get out. It wouldn't be so bad if you could walk straight from the escalator to the other, but you have to walk in the aisles, which curve round and round, going through every department...

What about 1-800-OPERATER? (2)

alispguru (72689) | more than 12 years ago | (#143399)

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 [studystrategy.com] 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.

Re:Not just limited to the online world (1)

CaseStudy (119864) | more than 12 years ago | (#143400)

Not sued yet == "OK"
Innocent until proven guily, remember?

You're wrong. Here's why:

  • The fact that someone hasn't sued you yet doesn't mean that they can't at any time in the future (barring laches, statutes of limitations, etc.).
  • The fact that party A didn't sue party B for an action may not mean that party A can't successfully sue you for a similar action. (There are very few exceptions to this, genericization of trademarks being the best known.)
  • The fact that party A didn't sue party B for an action certainly has no bearing on whether party C can successfully sue you for a similar action. (This was the point I was responding to--the "I saw someone else do it, so it must be legal" defense.)
  • "Innocent until proven guilty" applies to criminal cases, not civil. The standard in a civil case (such as a trademark dispute) is a simple preponderance of evidence.

Re:What you get if you abuse your rights. (1)

kcurtis (311610) | more than 12 years ago | (#143401)

But we do have restrictions on freedom of speech. 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. Heck, the airport checkpoint itself is a limitation on interstate commerce.

We exchange some rights all the time for others, or because we choose to. You do sometimes need permission to voice your opinion. The Supreme Court has often upheld the rights of municipalities to restrict political protests via a reasonable permit process. In this case we again trade free speech with public safety.

Congress has tinkered with the consitution itself before. We passed an amendment that outlawed alcohol, then repealed it later on. We are not a libertarian state. Heck, we aren't even a democracry. We are a republic, with all the good and bad that comes with it.

If congress and the courts restrict speech, it is with the tacit support of the voters who elected their representatives and senators, and the president. They are held accountable every 2 to 6 years.

You may not like all the restrictions that have occured vis-a-vis speech, but life in a republic is not always fair.

Your opinions are best heard in the voting booth, and in letters to the President, your senators, and your rep. The sovereign people have spoken, and restricted your rights. Welcome to America.

Re:Hm.. (2)

SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) | more than 12 years ago | (#143402)

Am I going to get busted because PopeAlien.com could be construed to be a typo of Pepsi.com?.. 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 PopeSecola.com web site?

This is the same dork who... (1)

Phillip Birmingham (2066) | more than 12 years ago | (#143403)

...registered the "sourcefourge.net" that I stumbled on to a couple of months back. Check it out sometime; about ten ad windows pop up when you hit it.

Zuccarini's no parodist -- as noted earlier, and in the decision, he only removed the popups when Joe Shields filed suit.

Re:Couldn't Resist... (1)

pingflood (105369) | more than 12 years ago | (#143404)

When typos are outlawed, only outlaws will make typos!

They'd throw Taco in jail quicker than you could type 'thier.'


This is a good judgement (1)

MushMouth (5650) | more than 12 years ago | (#143405)

We want the court to be smart about these things, or else we will get stuck with legislation that WILL infringe on free speach rights. Thus far we have joescartoon.com et al, which was a site that simply tried to make money off joecartoon.com in an annoying manner (whack a mole type advertising), after the law suit was filed they attempted to change their site to a "Protest page". This lost, but on the other hand we had a true parody site, which was ALWAYS so, gwbush.com, which was sued by the Bush campaign for president, guess what, gwbush.com is still up, and proclaiming "Dubya not a Crackhead". These are both absolutely correct judgements, and shows the slippery slope is not very deep, as the line between these two cases is very clear.

geee (1)

-=Izzy=- (80039) | more than 12 years ago | (#143406)

maybe i shouldnt have registered smutdot.org afterall .. but then .. any one who mistypes smutdot [smutdot.org] instead of slashdot [slashdot.org] .. should read up on a theory [fgi.net] by our friend Sigmund Freud

Re:Vague Distinctions in the Ruling (1)

ichimunki (194887) | more than 12 years ago | (#143409)

Of course some of the language in the ruling is not exact. As much as all good citizens would like law to be exact, it ain't. That's why we have a large number of people involved in drafting laws, and another large group of people interpreting them and making rulings on them. In extremely important cases, you have 12 people come in and hear the arguments for and against and make a ruling. This is why there are several layers to the court system, so that poor individual decisions at the beginning levels can be revised or examined by later levels. The final level is a group of nine individuals who make determinations in particularly tough cases.

Pathetic example: we all agree that killing other people is wrong most of the time, but that sometimes it may be okay or even desirable. But you can't simply spell out most of this stuff, so you have to have a way for human judgement to enter. I mean, at what point does self-defense become aggressive retribution. Even if you can define this exactly in English, you still need to have someone come into the case and look at the facts and decide which way this case looks according to the law.

I'd say 700,000 hits a month is famous enough. It was certainly famous enough that someone else used typos to redirect poor typists to advertisements wholly unrelated to Cartoon Joe. But I'd never heard of it before today. Fame just ain't what it used to be. :)
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