Bad News for Google, Facing Typo-squatting Lawsuit After its Motion for Summary Judgment was Denied

June 14th, 2010

Last Wednesday the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois’ Judge Blanche M. Manning handed down a decision to deny Google’s motion for summary judgment for a case that has been ongoing since 2007.

Judge Manning ruled that there were issues of material fact remaining pertaining to Google’s use of its AdSense program, in conjunction with the company Dotster, to display ads on domain names which are allegedly confusingly similar to registered trademarks. Google may still be found liable for damages because the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA)  imposes liability on anyone who licenses and uses sites with domain names similar to registered trademarks.

typosquatting lawsuit

Google’s AdSense program involved licensing domains from the domain registrar Dotster that were similar to registered trademarks and using those domains to display pay-per-click ads.

In its motion, Google argued that it had previously ended its contract with Dotster. This was to no avail however, because Manning found that Google may still be liable to plaintiffs for its previous activity in connection with Dotster.

In light of the recent dismissal of its motion for summary judgment, we should expect Google either to attempt to reach a settlement agreement or to dig in and square off against the Vulcan Golf trademark owners

(CAUTION: take care when viewing the www.VulcanGolf.com webpage, this morning when I viewed the site my AvastAntivirus, had to deal with a Trojan Horse  and some Malware). The Vulcan Golf trademark owners are plaintiffs in this ongoing suit against Google.

Vulcan Golf originally brought suit against Google alleging that Google’s use of domain names like ‘wwwVulcanGolf.com’ (purposefully without a period after the ‘www’) unfairly highjacks the Vulcan Golf trademark in violation of the ACPA.

Vulcan Golf is a golf club manufacturer and has acquired the Harvard Business School professor (and attorney) Ben Edelman for representation on its behalf. Edelman is a top academic authority on typo-squatting and has recently published research on typosquatting of domain names.

In an Article posted last Friday over at MediatePost.com, Wendy noted that;

“Edelman recently published a paper which concluded that 938,000 typo-squatting domains target the top 3,264 Web sites. He analyzed more than 285,000 of those sites and concluded that 80% of them were supported by pay-per-click ads.”

If you or someone you know owns a trademark that may be unfairly targeted by typo-squatters, contact an internet attorney. You may eligible to receive a judgment award $ for damages under the ACPA.