TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Microsoft Pursues UK Cybersquatters

Microsoft Pursues UK Cybersquatters

Reuters News Wire (
Wed, 14 Mar 2007 13:10:08 -0500

Microsoft Corp. took its fight against so-called "cybersquatters"
overseas, seeking a payment of damages from five UK companies for
registering Web site domain names that infringe on its trademarks and
brand, Microsoft said on Tuesday.

The world's largest software maker filed lawsuits against U.S.
cybersquatters in August in an attempt to curb the illegal
registration of Web site domains containing trademark Microsoft
phrases or common brand name misspellings.

In the past six months, Microsoft said it reclaimed more than 1,100
infringing domain names set up to target Web users who type in a
non-Microsoft address like "" in search of genuine
information about the company's new Windows Vista operating system.

"With every ad hyperlink clicked, a registrant or ad network harvests
cash at the trademark owner's expense," Aaron Kornblum, a senior
attorney at Microsoft, said in a statement.

Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said it contacted those five UK
companies through a legal representative and asked them to comply with
various terms including an injunction to halt any similar activities
in the future.

The company also said it reached a settlement with Dyslexic Domain
Company Ltd. and received a monetary payment from the UK-based company
which, according to Microsoft, has registered over 6,000 domains.

An attempt to contact Dyslexic Domain was unsuccessful.

Microsoft also filed three new lawsuits in the United States and
amended one suit filed in August to include the names of "John Doe"
defendants, whose identities were hidden at the time. It also settled
two lawsuits in Utah and California.

"The Internet is fertile ground for domain name speculators," Jonathan
Robinson, chief operating officer of NetNames, said in a statement.
NetNames is a company that manages domain names for other companies.

"There are a number of professional organizations out there making a
fortune out of registering variations and misspellings of popular
brand names," Robinson said.

Microsoft said registering trademarked Microsoft names violates the
1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, a U.S. law that calls
for a fine of up to $100,000 for anyone who registers a domain name
that is identical, similar or derived from an existing trademark with
an intent to profit.

While the law has been on the books for seven years, the growing use
of pay-per-click advertising has raised the stakes for trademark and
brand owners by giving illegitimate operators more avenues with which
to trick consumers.

Microsoft is targeting people who register those domain names, but not
the online advertising providers who act as middlemen, which include
rivals Yahoo Inc. and Google Inc.

Microsoft's own advertising system, MSN AdCenter, only allows
advertisers to place ads along its own Web sites.

Copyright 2007 Reuters Limited.

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