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Home » Hacking News » Typo domains bad.

Typo domains bad.

by Majik on September 9th, 2001 One of the most notorious collectors of "typo" Internet domains says addresses that sound like - or almost like - the names of well-known companies and celebrities don't amount to cybersquatting. Instead, says porn network operator John Zuccarini, the misspellings make for a hide-and-seek that many Web surfers expect to play.

But the unique argument didn't spell "innocent" for an international panel of arbitrators who ruled recently that Zuccarini, an American, had no right to hold 11 Internet domains reminiscent of the pop group known as the Backstreet Boys.

The three arbitrators, representing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), didn't buy Zuccarini's argument that many Web surfers actually hunt for misspelled domain names and know full well that what they might find will have nothing to do with a famous-sounding word or phrase.

What's more, the arbitrators pointed out that, while such Zuccarini-held addresses as and could be part of such a game, the defense didn't explain the domains and

WIPO's Geneva-based Aribtration and Mediation Center is one of four organizations accredited to arbitrate domain-name disputes for the Internet Corporation for Assigned names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) has been used by trademark holders around the world to claim Internet addresses from Zuccarini and his companies, which go by names such as Cupcake Party, Cupcake Patrol, Cupcake City and Country Walk.

Zuccarini's losses under the UDRP have included Encyclopaedia Britannica's complaint over such misspelled domains as,, and; actress Nicole Kidman's complaint over and the misspelled; Microsoft Corp.'s complaint over and; and United Feature Syndicate's bid for and

In U.S. federal courts, Zuccarini was also among the first domain-name holders to be sued under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999, which prohibits Internet users from registering, in "bad faith," Internet addresses that are the same or "confusingly similar" to famous or copyrighted names.

But in the UDRP defense of his Backstreet Boys domains last month, Zuccarini argued that his "practice of misspellings and typo squatting services the unique market on the Internet where a large number of Web surfers specifically type misspelling of words and phrases in order to search for unusual information, advertising, and products."

Zuccarini also argued that his Web sites don't purport to be authorized by the Backstreet Boys, not has he ever offered to sell his domains as a speculator.

However, the WIPO panel ruled that Zuccarini "has no reason to use these domain names except to divert Internet surfers who erroneously type in the wrong domain name, or type in the pictures- based domain names perhaps to seek pictures of the Backstreet Boys."

"(Zuccarini) urges the panel to acknowledge his advertising mousetraps as a legitimate business attracting consumers who purposefully mistype terms in order to find links to unusual information and advertisements," the panel wrote. But it said Zuccarin offered no evidence that Internet users do in fact seek out misspelled addresses, and that he should know from his previous UDRP losses that merely redirecting "mistaken typists to other sites is not enough to create a legitimate use without a greater connection between the domain name and the redirected site."

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