Typo Domain Squatter Gets Bitch-Slapped

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a company of the United Nations, has recently ruled that a typo domain based on a federally trademarked term is essentially in violation of that trademark. The ruling came down in a case against Spoofy, Inc., a California company engaged in the process known as “typosquatting.”

RepairClinic.com, Inc., an online retailer of replacement parts for household appliances and holder of the trademarks for “RepairClinic” and “RepairClinic.com”, filed a complaint with the WIPO in January after their attempts to shut down the site RepairClinc.com failed. The WICO ruled that Spoofy acted in bad faith and ownership of the domain was given to the plaintiff. No damages were sought or awarded in the case.

In the end, it cost RepairClinic.com $7,000 in attorney and filing fees to win one of hundreds of possible typo domains based on their trademark. They won the battle but may ultimately lose the war, since sites like RepairClnic.com appear to still be going strong. Unless a company has very deep pockets, it’s virtually impossible for them to enforce typosquatting in its many forms.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be wary of registering typo domains based on trademarked terms, especially when the trademark holder is known to aggressively pursue violators (like sue-happy eBay). They may come after you, and they may seek compensatory or punitive damages — especially if your site is actively diverting visitors to their competitors.

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