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Google Propping Up Typosquatting Biz? 279

Posted by Zonk
from the i-love-shopping-at-amezon.com dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google is making oodles of cash placing ads on a vast sea of otherwise vacant Web sites that do little more than capitalize on misspelled domain name names, according to a story in today's Washington Post. From the story: 'Google Inc., which runs the largest ad network on the Internet, is making millions of dollars a year by filling otherwise unused Web sites with ads. In many instances, these ad-filled pages appear when users mistype an Internet address, such as BistBuy.com. This new form of advertising is turning into a booming business that some say is cluttering the Internet and could be violating trademark rules.'"
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Google Propping Up Typosquatting Biz?

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  • Dodgy Business (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @03:28PM (#15233047) Journal
    Google is defending its business practices, saying that it removes participating sites from its ad network if a trademark owner complains that those sites are confusingly similar -- even though close misspellings don't necessarily prove that a legal infringement has occurred.

    "Unless it is confusing to somebody, trademark law doesn't apply," said Rose Hagan, Google's chief trademark lawyer.
    Wouldn't it be in Google's best interest to hold the position that these parked domains are NOT confused with some registered trademark?

    I imagine very few businesses can legitimately claim that the ads on bistbuy.com would confuse anyone looking for bestbuy.com.
  • Possible motivation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <.gro.hsikcah. .ta. .todhsals-sufur.> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @03:35PM (#15233077) Homepage
    This could be an instance of "if you can't beat them, join them." There's going to be typosquatting no matter what. Since it's not going away Google might as well a) make some money off of it, and b) know where all these fake sites are to remove them from their listings.

    Not saying it's the right thing to do, just an idea.
  • by SetupWeasel (54062) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @03:46PM (#15233141) Homepage
    If they don't do anything illegal with their site, it should be their right to whatever name they want. Are you going to tell me that no one can open a restaurant near a McDonalds? It's the same deal. It may feel shady. Some may be shady, but it is only fair as long as they are not stealing or commiting other crime with it.

    It's a logical progression of this thought that allows corporations to force people off their legal sites because they have the same name. You don't like EToy suing etoy? Deal with the "typosquatters."
  • Now you know... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @04:00PM (#15233197)
    Now you know why Microsoft is working hard on a set of tools that prevent typosquatting.

    However in this case, Google is pretty obviously doing *evil* by the very definition of the word, and that definitely speaks bad of it.

    Google specifically has tools and offers for filling vacant domains with ads... WHO would use that except domains of generic words and typosquatters? No excuses this time, Google.
  • by dominion (3153) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @04:03PM (#15233206) Homepage
    Has anybody thought to add a feature to firefox (or maybe an extension) whereby if a user misspells a domain name, it gives the option to correct the spelling?
  • Trademark confusion (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jdwclemson (953895) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @04:09PM (#15233233)
    One of the biggest problems with the internet and legal issues like this is that lack of ability for people to use analogy to see how inconsistant the laws and regulations can be. Imagine if everytime a new book came out, somebody put out a crappy one with an almost identical name. Go to the book store to get a present for your mother and you come back with "The DiVinco Code". Such there are lots of weasels who would clain they are not the same, but clearly this is a NO value added knockoff. If somebody wants to create sites that show advertisements, they should either pay advertising for other web sites, or add value in a way that brings people in and spreads the word. Not only is the networking traffic created by this a loss, there is also the loss in time for those people who have to evaluate the squatter and determine if it is the desired site. Trademarks allow organizations to be referenced to, and develop a reputation. Think of companies like NewEgg, benchmarks like Anandtech, articles like Slashdot. If you tell people to visit slashdot for news on technology(like I have many times) it hurts Slashdot AND the viewer when they mistakingly go to slushdot, or sashdot and this devalues the ability of organizations to build a name based upon their trademarks. If my friends go to Neweg(by mistake) and gets faulty video card from a lousy organization, this hurts my friends, Newegg, and everybody else who is duped into making a purchase from an undeserving company. I realize that money will be a driving factor in this chaos, but I think it would be interesting if there was a project(maybe firefox or DNS based) where people could register all of the squatter scam sites and keep an updated database so that when such mistakes were made, the correction was made before any harm could be done. Anybody up for it?
  • Perspectives (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Comatose51 (687974) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @04:10PM (#15233235) Homepage
    Google Inc., which runs the largest ad network on the Internet, is making millions of dollars a year by filling otherwise unused Web sites with ads.

    Google [google.com] made 2.253 billion USD in one quarter. While the article was vague how many millions it really is, "millions" instead of "tens of millions" or "hundreds of millions" still seems like a drop in the bucket. It goes on to imply that it's quite a bit by quoting Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google:

    Google won't disclose how much revenue it is earning from ads on these types of sites, but chief executive Eric Schmidt said in an interview last week, "It's a lot of money."

    Did he mean that Google makes a lot of money from ads in general or from ads on typo sites? I can't tell because the article doesn't give me the source of that quote. However, I find it doubtful that Schmidt would be so explicit about Google making money off of typos, even if they did.

    In any case, the issue is not as clean-cut as the article implies. Whose responsibility is it to police trademark infringements? Hasn't it always been the holder of the trademark? Google making money off of it does suggest some kind of responsbility on their part as well though. However, Google does provide an avenue for these people to complain and have the affliates delisted from their ad program.

  • Two points: (Score:3, Interesting)

    by thepotoo (829391) <thepotoospamNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:21PM (#15233533)
    #1: They used bistbuy.com as a hypothetical example, so the millions of slashdotters trying to go there wouldn't make google revenue.

    #2: Thanks to you posting on /. to inform everyone about this, some troll will have registered the site to go to goatse.

  • Breaking news (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 30, 2006 @05:32PM (#15233578)
    The sad part is that this made the morning post long before it was slashdotted.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Sunday April 30, 2006 @06:38PM (#15233849)
    As long as typesquatters do not have an really simialr page to the original, or a porn site, I don't see anything wrong with typesquatting at all. How can you call it "cluttering the internet" when no-one sees it except by mistake? Let these typosquatters spend money registering a doamin that almost no-one will see...

    I have to believe typosquatting has got less profitable since browsers started trying to complete what you type.
  • Re:In other news... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by EmoryBrighton (934326) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @11:30PM (#15234773)
    Here's a list of all the domains in question: We are talking about 123 000 domains:

    Googe-parked domains [google.com]

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