Mistyped domains as a business model

Not Volkswagen: If you only type in domain names almost correctly, you can be redirected to shopping sites like this one or even catch malware.

According to a study, trademark owners can hardly prevent so-called typosquatters from registering Internet domains that only almost correspond to their name.

Practically since the commercialization of the Internet, almost every better-known Internet domain has served as a target for registrations that contain deliberate spelling mistakes and are intended to distribute third-party content as soon as someone makes a typing mistake in the address line of their browser.

Nevertheless, only a few trademark owners do something against the registration of typo domains, which has determined the Catholic University of Leuven (Belgium) in cooperation with Stony Brook University (New York).

As part of their EU-funded study, the researchers used the most frequented websites according to Alexa 500 over seven months to determine which content-specific typing error variants were delivered.

The vast majority of them were actively used to show advertisements or redirect them to third-party content, including pornography, malware, or phishing forms. But only in 156 of the 500 domains examined did the rights holders have reserved possible typo domains for themselves.

The experts at domain-recht.de conclude from the study that trademark owners should register correctly spelled domain names and those with typing errors. That pays off because mistyped domains are only registered and held if they bring in money. The bottom line is that there are no additional costs for brand owners.

Whichever domains a company registers for itself: The more successfully it presents itself on the Internet, the more attractive the search for typosquatters for variants that have not yet been reserved becomes. Dubious third-parties should always use typo names.

Users should, therefore, not type in the address of the desired web server at random but instead fall back on tried and tested bookmarks or favorites lists. Search engines usually present the desired pages under the first hits - even if the search query contains a typo. (U.N)

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