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August 22, 2006

Microsoft launches legal campaign against domain name squatters

Posted by David Hunter at 10:48 AM ET.

Press release:

… as alleged in lawsuits announced by the company, “cybersquatters” and “typosquatters” have registered these domain names containing trademarked terms or misspelled words – and hundreds of other domain names like them – with the goal of illegally profiting from them via online ad networks. Thousands of such domains targeting Microsoft are being registered each day.

Internet Safety Enforcement Attorney Aaron Kornblum leads Microsoft’s new enforcement campaign that targets Web site cybersquatters and typosquatters. Kornblum says that Microsoft’s Trademark and Internet Safety Enforcement groups began to notice a surge in domain name registrations containing the company’s intellectual property earlier this year while monitoring Web sites registered by online fraudsters known as phishers. This existing anti-phishing “Domain Defense Program,” operated in conjunction with Microsoft vendor Internet Identity of Tacoma, Wash., will be expanded to incorporate these new anti-cybersquatting initiatives.

Microsoft’s announcement of a new enforcement campaign targeting cybersquatters includes:

First, Microsoft has filed two civil lawsuits against a total of four named defendants who allegedly are profiting from domain names that infringe on Microsoft trademarks. These two lawsuits include federal law claims under ACPA and the Lanham Act as well as state law claims for statutory unfair competition and common law unfair competition and conversion.

Second, Microsoft also is taking action to unmask defendants who have used privacy protection services to conceal their identities. This can be challenging, Kornblum says, because some domain registrars have created services that protect the registrants’ personal information at a minimal cost. To unmask those identities, Microsoft is filing a ‘John Doe’ lawsuit aimed at identifying cybersquatters and typosquatters who have used privacy protection services to conceal their identities, and naming as defendants: John Doe defendants 1-217.

Microsoft soon plans to issue subpoenas to multiple registrars of domain names infringing on Microsoft’s intellectual property. This lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, Cause No. C06-1192 RSM.

Lastly, Microsoft is working to aggressively halt online auctions of infringing domain names. With increasing frequency, people purchase a domain name and, if it generates a compelling amount of traffic, resell the domain name for a profit. To address the problem of domain auctioneering, Microsoft will expand its systematic searches of such auctions and seek to have them removed from the auction Web site.

More details by following the link.

Filed under Legal, Microsoft

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