Friday, February 26, 2010

Typosquatting: A Brief Foray

Last week, CirlceID published an article titled "Measuring Typosquatting Perpetrators and Funders," based on the study by Tyler Moore of the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Science and Benjamin Edelman of the Harvard Business School, "Measuring the Perpetrators and Funders of Typosquatting." The study identified at least 938,000 typosquatting domain names targeting the most popular 3,264 domain names according to Alexa's website popularity rankings. Despite the implementation of theUDRP and the enactment of the ACPA, the study demonstrates that typosquatting remains a significant problem and suggests that online advertising platforms, such as Google's AdSense, are better positioned to undermine typosquatting, rather than trademark owners.

The study is a fascinating read, but the supplementary documentation may be of even more interest to trademark owners and readers of this blog. The Online Appendix features a section titled "Estimating Visitors and Advertising Costs of Typo Domains," in which the authors estimate that extrapolating their findings from the 3,264 domain names in the study to the top 100,000 most popular domain names suggests that "typo domains collectively receive at least 68.2 million daily visitors." Furthermore, based on estimates drawn from SEC filings and a Google case study, the authors "estimate that Google's revenue from typosquatting on the top 100,000 sites is $497 million per year."

Beyond demonstrating that typosquatting remains an ongoing and significant problem, the estimate of Google's revenue related to typsoquatting represents the capture that trademark owners could achieve through acquisition of domain names that represent misspellings of brand owners' trademarks as domain names. While the intrinsic value of a single typo domain name will likely be minimal, the study shows that the value of a portfolio of typos could be significant, and therefore trademark owners that employ defensive registration and online enforcement strategies intelligently to acquire typo domains could benefit from a meaningful return on investment across multiple fronts including increased web traffic, reduced consumer confusion, lessened online advertising spend and lower costs in connection with affiliate marketing.

Monday, February 1, 2010

IDN ccTLDs One Step Closer

As mentioned below, ICANN is currently in the process of approving IDN ccTLD requests and recently announced that four internationalized domain names had been approved: Egypt, the Russian Federation, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. The languages associated with the first four IDN ccTLDs to be approved include Arabic and Russian in Arabic and Cyrillic scripts, representing another step closer for IDN ccTLDs.

From the perspective of trademark owners, important considerations include: Do the referenced nations represent significant geographic areas in which the company does business or a natural area of business expansion? Has the brand owner registered and/or used a translation or transliteration of the trademark in either of these scripts?

It was also recently announced that the registry behind the application for the Russian Federation, incorporating the Cyrillic script, intends to begin operation in March of this year.