Typosquatting A Growth Industry
from the your-ad-heer dept
Some people have noticed that there are sites on the web that -- gasp -- attempt to profit from people's typos by buying domain names that are common misspellings of popular sites, then putting Google ads on them. This then becomes Google profits from your typo", with the implication being that the company's doing something nefarious, or possibly even infringing trademarks. The trademark claim is pretty silly, since it's pretty hard to imagine many people being confused into thinking a typosquatting site like hmoedepot.com is the actual homedepot.com site it's aping. In any case, the space is attracting a lot of attention from companies who say the sites can function as additions to search engines. One such company, led by an ex-chairman of Facebook, has raised $120 million in venture capital, and is buying up more generic domains (like "flashgame.com") and filling them with ads and cheap content. This company, or at least its investors, is attempting to distance itself from typosquatters, saying it is "trying to liberate these domains from the cybersquatters and actually put them to good use." There's no doubt that these companies are grabbing low-hanging fruit, but the bigger issue, particularly for typosquatters, is that their business could get stamped out, either by misguided trademark lawsuits, or by technology. VeriSign, for one, has a service that seeks to stamp out domain typos, while others like Microsoft are also working on solutions. For Google, any uproar over this latest accusation of evil just adds to its laundry list of potential PR problems, following spats over its role in tracking users for free WiFi, and its entry into China.