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February 22, 2007


Stephen Douglas

Hi Frank,

It doesn't seem to happen if you use any other browser, like Safari (for Mac) or Firefox or Opera - only on IE. Since I'm a Mac user, prefer Safari and Firefox, I've never seen that happen -- but if so... what a scam! What's the solution?

Stephen Douglas
Successful Domain Management™
"Own Your Competition™"
Executive Producer
Domain Roundtable Conference


You're absolutely right Stephen. It doesn't happen in all browsers.. but aside from the log files of techie sites, Microsoft has 90%+ share with the general surfing public (regular non-pro folks you pass at the mall). Even Firefox redirects error search to the Google toolbar (Google) and they make a mint monetizing that error search (which again is majority TM). LMK if you think I'm not thinking this through right.

Daily Domainer

Great analysis and comments!

The only argument that could be made in favor of Microsoft & Co. is that they do not consciously pick terms that might infringe on someone's trademark. They indiscriminately auto-generate results pages for any and all domains that *don't* exist, and that number is virtually infinite.

As a result, it's much harder to accuse them of typosquatting than say a domainer who specifically registered a typo of some popular trademark.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Typosquatting 2.0! Who stands to gain? Browser manufacturers and ISPs.


That's wonderfully analgous to modern domain tasting. Do those tasting registrants know that they have 50 misspellings of Verizon in their list? Do they know the specific meaning of the TM? I think Microsft is a much more sophisticated organization. If those guys looked at their most popular search queries they would see mainly Google/Yahoo other internet brand mistypes that didn't resolve quick enough and variants of popular brands. They seem to be able to create the Strider Typo tool to police the domain space. It would be nice if they turned that tool on to their own error search stream to block typos and searches like 'Ford Lightning Pickup Truck' .


Hey Frank,

I think I wrote about this in 2003. The battle for mistypes (generic and tm) operates at various levels:

- Registrations of domains
- Registry control of wildcards (try: http://www.lkjlkwelkj.cm )
- ISP control of the DNS servers they tell you to use
- Browswer control of 404 errors

Now, what about if your ISP decides to progress beyond NXDOMAIN errors? How about a "service" that says "In an effort to improve your websurfing experience, we have attempted to identify all these MFA and PPC Pages that are owned by know cyber-speculators, and we will instead be showing you our 'Did you mean?' page (which will also include PPC ads). If you would like to opt-out, click here for instructions......."

How hard would it be to identify all the pages hosted by Marchex, NameAdmin, HitFarm, SmartName etc etc. Heck, if 90% of the link outs ended up at YSM, HF, DS etc, then the domain gets tossed into the list. Your ISP then starts to make money off registered domains that you own. Legal by right of customer to opt-out. Thoughts?


2003? You were ahead of your time sir, as you are with this one.

I've thought about that complete blockage scenario before. Ultimately, I think there are too-many names today that resolve to these pages to block. So many prolific webnames have parked content. Regular folks would start to complain that the Internet is broken because every good name they type doesn't resolve. I used to go to Google's search box to navigate to websites. It was a habit. As you know, a few months ago Google stripped the actual name from their results, if there's PPC (parked content), they block the URL from their results. That hasn't stopped me from navigating by typing names. It just weakened Google's product, because now I am back to the browser's address bar.

But lets say it happened -- and nobody sued anybody (not likely). All of a sudden millions of names flood the market for sale. And lets say those names are cheap, 'and' in some utopian dream they are all bought by mom and pop's creating perfect storefronts and small websites.. how do you re-enable these names? If it's just hostname related you could stuff a unique host to each name to work-around.

After writing all this I tried to envision how it would look and its just soooo messy. It weakens their product too much. The ISP starts to look like Compuserve or AOL from a user's perspective.

ISP's, search engines and browser manufacterers haven't been able to stop pop-up windows, they haven't been able to stop SPAM -- If they can't stop issues like that from occurring, how are they going to stop people from doing something truly benign, like freely surfing the web?


Hey Frank,

The ISPs are caring less about weakening their product and more about making money off errors. As for hijacking pages, with the user's consent, here's an example: OpenDNS.com is a dns resolver, if you use it, it changes domain.og to domain.org. That's a great tool. But now that Cameroon is running a sitefinder powered by HitFarm, OpenDNS can also redirect domain.cm to domain.com. Now I don't know what the financial arrangement is between Yahoo/Hitfarm/Cameroon, but absolutegarbage.cm is "owned" by this club, not by OpenDNS, nor by the .com owner of absolutegarbage.com.

The first step on a slippery slope, and not a lawsuit in sight.

****** Super good point. The Cameroonians just need to stop wildcarding and activate all their names within their whois under the name of a "real registrant" who is being injured, then sue... If it happened as you explain, then overwriting active URLs is clearly wrong and depending on the contractual arrangement a lawsuit could be brought but its challenging unless you can proove that users really didn't want to opt away from that traffic. The problem of course is that most of the Cameroonian's traffic comes from TM typos.. You'd be hard pressed to find a registrant to stand up and take a bow for those .cm names. Cameroon is violating US law. I think that if OpenDNS or US based ISP took that hot potato (from a real URL) the Lanham Act would apply and they could quickly start picking up $100,000 judgements. Or worse yet the RICO statute.. this is going to happen with catchall typosquatting before we turn to dust although no attorney has quite figured out how to bring it yet.

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