Is the world’s biggest registrar typosquatting some of the world’s biggest brands?
Typosquatting refers to registering domain names similar to popular sites but with misspellings or missing/added characters. For example, typosquatting would be registering yaho.com instead of yahoo.com. Millions of people type ‘yahoo.com’ into their browsers every day, and many of those accidentally neglect the second ‘o’. Typosquatting is a big business, and typo domains regularly sell for over $10,000.
Microsoft recently disclosed research showing the extent of the problem.
But is it possible that GoDaddy, the world’s biggest registrar, is an active typosquatter? The culprit is GoDaddy’s TDNAM.com service. TDNAM is a domain name aftermarket at which people can buy and sell domains (similar to Sedo and Afternic). However, GoDaddy also auctions off expiring domains that are currently registered at GoDaddy. This is a common practice — all of the big registrars auction off such domains through services like SnapNames. But GoDaddy parks expiring domains on its servers for a couple weeks before auctioning them at TDNAM. This allows the company to calculate the amount of visits the domain receives and the associated revenue from pay-per-click ads. It then sets higher starting bids for expiring domains that produce revenue.
For example, TDNAM started an auction for privatebankruptcy.com at $140 rather than TDNAM’s standard $10 expired domain start price because privatebankruptcy.com receives valuable web traffic.
No problem there. But what if the domain in question is a typo of a trademarked term? That was the case with FootLoocker.com, which TDNAM set a starting price at $1,000s of dollars. (It receives a lot of type-in traffic.) You could rightfully argue that GoDaddy shouldn’t have to screen all of the expiring domains it lists to ensure it doesn’t include trademark typos. But what if no one bids on the domain? What happens to it then?
It appears that GoDaddy keeps the domain and tries to sell it under cover on TDNAM. FootLoocker.com didn’t receive any bids during its expired domain auction, but it’s currently listed for sale for $3,630 at TDNAM.
I believe that GoDaddy still owns the domain. As proof, the domain is currently registered via DomainsbyProxy. It appears that all of the domains that aren’t successfully auctioned off but are retained are registered through DomainsbyProxy. Second, FootLoocker.com currently resolves to a standard GoDaddy.com parking page. The company makes money from the sponsored ads on that page. If someone other than GoDaddy purchased this domain they would immediately park the domain at a service that would create revenue for the owner.
What’s worse is that it appears the company is trying to cover up its tracks. I recently purchased a number of domains from TDNAM that were expired domain auctions that ended with no bidders (I didn’t buy any trademark typos, mind you). All of the domains showed DomainsbyProxy as the registrant. Although it appears GoDaddy is the seller, I received an e-mail from a random web address offering to complete the transaction by transferring the domains to my GoDaddy.com account. What shows up if you go to that web address? A GoDaddy.com parked page. I suspect GoDaddy doesn’t want the e-mail to appear to come from the company to cover up its tracks.
To sum it up, I believe that GoDaddy is retaining high traffic expired domains that it fails to successfully auction off at TDNAM. It lists the domains on TDNAM as “Buy it Now” sales, and parks the domains at GoDaddy to earn revenue from pay-per-click ads. GoDaddy is profiting from typosquatting.
Scott von Schiller says
Article states: …”TDNAM started an auction for privatebankruptcy.com at $140 rather than TDNAM’s standard $10 expired domain start price… No problem there.”
Excuse me, but this ‘domain racketeering’ by registrars reeks of more monopolistic and anti-trust. Breaking NetSol’s monopoly was not intended to turn domain registration over to a bunch of racketeers hiding behind ICANN.
This is a HUGE problem, and a class action law-suit (and FTC & DOJ investigation) is needed IMMEDIATELY to end the profiteering.
DOZENS of registrars are colluding to lockout good domains from availability or charge outrageous fees; not just for PROFITEERING, but also to obstruct political discourse.
Check these domains, and ask yourself why there are no REAL websites being operated:
…among millions of other ‘parked’ domains.
The purpose for the anti-squatting law was to address tradmark infringement AS WELL as PREVENT MASSIVE COLLUSION BY REGISTRARS.
THIS IS PROFITEERING AND OBSTRUCTION OF FREE SPEECH. Legislation is need to stop this now… Congress botched it the first time, and the idiots need to correct this scam.
ALL REGISTRARS NEED TO BE INVESTIGATED FOR THIS PRACTICE!!! Sieze their assets, shut them down, and return all their domains to the avaialable pool for $8 to 15 as intended!
You are mistaken. The domains you reference are not owned by registrars.
GoDaddy squats domains using a fictitious account/address in St. Marten to mask the shady part of their business. If you do a domain search by that address, you’ll see they’re squatting on THOUSANDS of domains.
John Harvey says
Interesting article, forwarded to firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been a lot of this lately, pool.com actively markets trademark typo domains every day and even promoted ‘myexpedia.com’ in its daily email, not to mention bnacofamerica.com and many many more. I’m tired of their bs, everytime I see one of these now I am forwarding it to the legal dept of the company in question. Others who would like to see these shady registrar practices end should do the same – once a brandmark violation has been pointed out to the owner they have an obligation to protect their brand or weaken potential future cases against other violators, you cannot selectively enforce trademarks and copyright.
Michael Kvakin says
Seaking about typosquatters, here is a free website that detects whether your domain has been typosquattered
Here is what you need to do:
1. Type your company domain name into the input field below
2. Choose the root domain from the drop down list below
3. Choose the types of typos you want to be investigated
4. Click “Search” and wait for a while
The system will generate the list of possible typos and misprints and tell you whether any domain names using these typos are already taken by other people.
Provided by IBCI Law Group, a law firm specializing on copyright and trademark issues.
Call me crazy, but shouldn’t a smart company register at least the most obvious typo versions of their name? (A little increased traffic can’t hurt…and if the increase is negligible, why are we even talking about it?)
No one’s thinking that typo domains should be illegal, are they? (I hope not) If a domain is available, is it not fair game just like any other available real estate?
I somewhat agree that a registrar should not be doing it, because it does seem a bit unfair due to their resources available to snap up large amounts of names that the company might be trying to grab at the same time (although they should have done it back when originally registering their name). If the company is not trying to grab it….is it not available for anyone? What’s unfair about someone parking it, and likely sending traffic to the company as well as making a few bucks for themselves?
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I mis-type a name and get to someone’s parked page, I proceed to type the correct address and continue on…I generally don’t forget that the company exists at that point.
If someone registers a name first, and only then does the company realize the value of the typo, should they not pay fair market value for their mistake?
Sanket Gupta says
I totally agree with fishmouth.
If the company deemed a name valuable, it should have been registered long time back…
Never cash park with godaddy or you may possibly lose control of your domain.
At one point, I loved godaddy, but they quickly taught me to hate them and their lack of support and service. So, here is my story;
I have purchased several domains domain at auction from godaddy . I purchased one of these domains for just under $800.00. I purchased the domain based upon traffic and name, to cash park. I had the newly won domain cash parked for a few days, and the ads kept changing from the keywords, keeping traffic down. I would go into the admin panel, refresh the keywords and it would be fine again. After approx. 2 weeks, I noticed the domain was no longer in cash parking. When I called godaddy, I was told it was removed for click fraud. Godaddy never sent an email or notice to this affect. At first, I was told I could only email the cash parking department. So, we emailed back and forth and finally got a phone number to reach cash parking. All they could tell me is there was a “strange traffic pattern” from an IP in my region (they gave me the IP). I asked for documentation to better understand what the traffic was, but they said there was no report to offer. I asked how they can make a determination if a domain has click fraud without some type of report or documentation. I was then told they review traffic statistics. So I nicely asked to please send me a copy of the traffic stats so I can better understand what is going on and what we can do. He then says he can only release the details with a subpoena! What?! Within 1 day of this phone call, they had 5 more of my domains blacklisted with google, stating that they had nothing to do with the black listing ……. just a coincidence?! First they said it was a trademark problem, then they said these domains too had possible click fraud …. hmmm. Quite a coincidence.
So, I pay Godaddy almost $800.00 for a domain on a godaddy auction, set-up to cash park with godaddy, they then suspend from cash parking without notice, without supporting documentation, refuse any phone support calls at first and send only generic emails, once reached by phone, they simply refuse to help or provide and documentation to clarify the “potential click fraud”. They then blacklist 5 more of my domains with google adsense …. Within 1 day of my phone call! I owned and cask parked those domains for over 6 months! When I questioned the blacklisting, they said google black listed them, and they had nothing to do with it …. yea right, just a coincidence. What is this? They take my money, sell me a domain, then yank it out from underneath me without notice or documentation and tell me to get a subpoena. Is there a class action here? I have read of many others with the same story.
Importantly, please understand, I would never click on my own ads. There was never any click fraud on my part or attempt to gain anything from the sites I cash parked other than honest traffic. So, has a third party clicked onto my site? If so, I now get banned? How is that fair? Why aren’t there safeguards for this? I now get stuck with an $800.00 domain I cannot cash park and black listed with Google.
The lesson; we own the domains, but godaddy keeps control over them. Godaddy may as well own the domains. Don’t expect any favors from godaddy, at this point I have zero trust in their business and will never use them again. If you become a pester, watch them get more of your domains black listed like they did to me.
I’m an honest guy, just trying to build a cask parking portfolio which I would NEVER jeopardize with click fraud. And godaddy not only takes all the fun out of it for me, but went on to black list my highest earning domains without reason. Thanks godaddy, thanks for your CUSTOMER driven support and total lack of respect or decency to help when help is needed.
I used to own this domain name. I let it expire because I didn’t need it anymore. I forgot about it, then recently someone I know found it and asked me about it. The new domain owner copied all my content. It’s more than copyright violations. If you go to the website and read the text they copied from me, it makes it seem like I am still the owner of the site selling my services as a chef. The only difference is an email address on the site that doesn’t belong to me. I am really worried that they are misrepresenting me. This is illegal on so many levels, I don’t even know where to begin.
I checked whois database and found this.
The registrant is Registrant:
Domains by Proxy, Inc.
15111 N. Hayden Rd., Ste 160, PMB 353
Scottsdale, Arizona 85260
Hammy Havoc says
I detest GoDaddy with every fibre of my being.