Verizon likes to play both sides of the fence. For that we give it an award.
With just a few days left in 2008, I thought I’d write about a couple of the more egregious stories in domain names this year. Think of it as the dumbest moments in domains.
The first winner is telecom giant Verizon (NYSE: VZ).
Verizon, a member of Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), aggressively pursues cybersquatters that infringe on its trademarks. There’s nothing wrong with that. The company should aggressively pursue cybersquatters.
But here’s the problem. Like some other members of CADNA and several other big corporations, Verizon is one of the biggest typosquatters in the world.
Users of some of its internet services get their browsers hijacked when they enter a domain name that doesn’t exist. The browser shows a page of pay-per-click ads related to what they typed in. And since just about every generic domain name someone types in exists today (either parked or active), you can bet than 99.9% of the non-existent domains for which Verizon shows ads are trademark typos.
So while Verizon is filing lawsuits to protect its brand, it is monetizing just about every other company’s trademarks…even its fellow CADNA members’ trademarks.
According to an article in Modern Domainer earlier this year, Verizon explained at a trademark conference that the difference between its parked pages and domain owners’ parked pages is that its pages are “a service“. Right.
Fortunately, someone called Verizon out on its game this year. Verizon sued Navigation Catalyst Systems, Inc. for cybersquatting. Navigation Catalyst filed a response alleging that Verizon was infringing its trademarks. According to court documents, the case was settled out of court. It looks like Navigation Catalyst didn’t pay anything and simply agreed to stop infringing Verizon brands. It seems that Verizon didn’t want that case to set a precedent.
Congratulations Verizon. You’re the first ever winner of the Domain Name Wire Domain Dunce award.