The number of typosquatting domain name registrations has grown exponentially over the last few years, fueled by four major factors. First, it has become trivially easy to profit from typosquatting domain names through the rise of domain “parking” programs. Many advertising networks now provide a mechanism for their ads to be shown on unused domains, and the resulting pay-per-click (PPC) revenue is split with the domain owner. Unfortunately, policing these parked pages is difficult and expensive, so advertising networks continue to serve profitable ads on many millions of misspelled domain names.
Second, it is now quite inexpensive to register a domain name. A domain that can generate as little as two cents a day in PPC ad revenue is probably profitable enough to keep. This means that a misspelled domain name needn’t generate much traffic to be part of a typosquatter’s portfolio. Of course this has turned the business into a game of volume, and some portfolios have literally hundreds of thousands of misspelled domain names to capitalize on those economics.
Third, it is extremely expensive (by comparison) to get a domain name back through traditional legal channels. Trademark holders can choose to sue under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) or to file a complaint under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), but either way they’re looking at thousands of dollars in legal fees. If a trademark holder is faced with dozens or hundreds of infringing domain names, the potential cost can be dissuasive. It doesn’t help that finding infringers to collect damages can also be extremely difficult or impossible.
Last, cybersquatters have developed highly automated means to register misspelled domain names, measure the traffic on those names, and drop names that don’t perform well (often at very little cost to them). Called “tasting”, this practice has all but guaranteed that any misspelled domain name of any value whatsoever has been registered. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is charged with many of the responsibilities of managing the Internet and has taken steps to reduce tasting. These measures have so far been only mildly successful.
In short, automation and current domain name economics have been primarily responsible for driving the rampant growth of typosquatting domain name registrations. It is no longer a question of “if” a misspelled domain name will be registered. Names that are valuable will be registered in a systematic and relentless attack on trademark holders’ rights.
Even relatively short domain names have thousands of possible misspelled permutations, so it really isn’t practical to buy and own every variation to prevent typosquatting. But what if you could predict with some accuracy which of those variations would be truly valuable, even before the main name was registered or received much traffic itself? Obviously it would be much less expensive to preemptively purchase those valuable names than to try and wrest them back from typosquatters later.
Alias Encore has developed systems that can help trademark holders do exactly that. We’ve invested heavily in the development of sophisticated statistical models which allow us to predict which misspelled variations of a domain name will generate the most traffic, and also which variations are most likely to be registered by typosquatters later. Most importantly, these models let us predict traffic and registration likelihood even for domain names that don’t exist yet.
We call the service “Defensive Registration”, and the math behind it is outrageously complex. Fortunately, if you leave the math to us, the concept itself is pretty simple. Why mess around with typosquatters later when you can neatly avoid the whole problem now by purchasing just a few extra domain names “around” your main name?
There are lots of potential uses for Defensive Registration, but here are few we think are most obvious:
- New products
- Up-and-coming/trendy websites
- URLs mentioned in TV or radio commercials
- New celebrities
- Domain registrars’ name suggestion tools
- Attorneys representing new trademark applicants
So, whether you’re a brand holder or an agency, you’re probably well aware of the work and expense that can go into choosing a new domain name before launching a product, movie, or commercial. We think it just makes sense to spend a little more time to make sure you own all the valuable variations of that domain because if you don’t, someone else definitely will.
Get Started Today
Contact us today to find out how easy it is to protect yourself. Also, try the typosquatting scan feature at the bottom of this page to see how pervasive the problem has become.