A victory for Facebook in its case against typosquatters — those who own domain names that are similar to those of a popular site, which they use to confuse people and potentially capitalize on that. The U.S. District Court for Northern California has ruled in favor of the social network in an action it took against several squatters, recommending the turnover of 105 domains and statutory damages of $2,795,000.
Not only should this mean that Facebook will be getting control of some 105 domains, but it looks like this makes Facebook one of the first big companies to win liability damages in a case tried under the U.S. Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. This act was formed to protect companies against those who create/register websites that allow typosquatters to monetize their domains. Up to now, liability has only been determined at the “motion to dismiss stage,” we understand, not the ruling stage.
As the ruling embedded below notes, some of the typosquatters would continue the initial typed confusion with “misuse of Facebook’s marks, typesetting, and color scheme” to lure people into entering personal information and other actions.
The original list of domains included sites like dacebook.com, facebokook.com, faceboocklogin.com, faacebok.com, facebookfreezer.com, facebooll.com, facegbook.com, gfacebook.com, and zh-facebook.com. No site on that particular list appears to be active at the moment. Many were registered in batches by single entities. For example, Newgate, the filing notes, registered 50 domains that sounded similar to Facebook, “registering and using infringing domain names to divert traffic from Facebook’s website in an effort to deceive users and make money.” In this case, the court applied a formula to each defendant, based on the number of domains held and other factors such as how they were used. The per-defendant breakdown ranges from $5,000 to $1.34 million.
With the suit going back to July 2011, Facebook has already recovered hundreds of domains named in it (including that list above). But there are still more, and Facebook says it will be pursuing them, too:
“We are pleased with the court’s recommendation. We will continue to use all the tools at our disposal to enforce against those who attempt to take advantage of the people who use our service,” said Craig Clark, Associate General Counsel, Facebook, in a statement by email.
The problem remains a persistent one. For example, I’ve just typed in “facebookl.com”, which Chrome suggested might actually be “facebookl.co”, which then redirected me here:
A study from Naked Security found that Facebook was one of the most popular domains preyed on by typosquatters, with slightly less frequency than Google and more than Twitter.
Full ruling below.