FreeCreditReport.com wins lawsuit against typosquatters

You've probably experienced this: Type in the address of your favorite blog but make one small error, and you end up at a page that isn't quite right. It has the same appearance and similar text, but a few elements are misplaced, the language a bit awkward. If you notice these inconsistencies, you're lucky, because you've identified a website spoof, thereby dodging a scam.

This week brought some good news for consumers and legit companies on this front. FreeCreditReport.com, a part of ConsumerInfo.com, Inc, which is owned by Experian (EXPN) company, won a complaint that grants it ownership of over a thousand Internet addresses very similar to FreeCreditReport.com.

This 'typosquatting' was carried out by a company named Netcorp. Netcorp registered 1,017 domain name variations on FreeCreditReport.com, by adding a 's', or a place name, or a typo. ConsumerInfo.com claimed these domains were 'confusingly similar to" FreeCreditReport.com, and that the website had already put "millions of dollars into advertising" before Netcorp made its land grab. Netcorp then created sites similar to FreeCreditReport.com, such as ereecreditreport.com, freecredatreport.com, and freecreditreporn.com for the purpose of making money by selling credit reports, in direct competition with the original company.

The legal decision is based on the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, which required FreeCreditReport.com to prove that the spoof sites were identical or confusing similar to its trademark, that Netcorp had no rights to to the original domain name, and that it had used the spoof sites in bad faith. Bad faith includes registering a domain name similar to an existing brand merely to hold it for ransom, or to block an existing business's legitimate effort to register domain names likely to be confused with its home one, or to play on this confusion to bleed off customers of the company that has spent so much time and money establishing the brand. Netcorp was clearly guilty of the last.

I applaud the decision, having no sympathy for pariahs that attempt to leech off of the efforts of others by duplicity. Such decisions also are consistent with the rest of the business world, where publishers aren't allowed to sell horror novels by Stephen Kinge, computer retailers can't sell laptops made by Delle, and you can't buy a bottle of Coca-Coula anywhere that just laws prevail.

UPDATE: An earlier version of this story misidentified the defendant in this case. DailyFinance regrets the error.


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