Why Verizon Just Did The Web a Huge Favor

The Web’s Gain is Google’s loss


This is an important time of year for cybersquatters as one of them just lost a $33.2 million dollar case against Verizon. The details are as follows… A company called OnlineNIC was ordered by a court to pay $50,000 per bad-faith name registrations too similar to Verizon’s domain names.

Here is an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article on the matter:

Complaints about cybersquatting — or setting up a Web site using a trademarked name and then profiting by selling the name to the trademark owner — surged to a record in 2007, according to World Intellectual Property Organization, a watchdog group.

Anyone can register domain names for a nominal fee, but cybersquatters claim popular domain names with the intention of selling them at a profit when the real owners of the names come calling. More recently, Internet entrepreneurs have set up Web sites using famous names — or even versions with typos in them — and setting up per-click ads leading to the entity’s official site.

And this is why the news is good for all of us. In many cases when you accidentally type in a wrong URL, you see a site similar enough to what you are looking for then click on the links on the page. In some cases you just see a page of links which you may not realize are ads.

Often these links are Google ads enabling the cybersquatter to generate revenue by tricking people and at the same time making online advertising less effective.

Google for its part publically says it is trying to get rid of the ability for cybersquatters to make a living by showing their syndicated ads. Still, it is fairly easy to type a name in a web browser which is similar to a popular site such as Sprint for example. I typed in Spront and was presented with an entire screen of ads. When you click on one, you see in the bottom left hand corner of your browser window that it is a Google ad… But for some reason when you mouse over the ads this information is hidden from you.

What you see when you you go to site Spront.com — Text copied from the site appears at bottom


Google and other ad syndication networks make a literal fortune from cybersquatters and typical web users get a worse browsing experience because of it. Case in point – I randomly clicked on one of the ads on the Spront page and got a German ecommerce site selling condoms.

So if $50,000 is the penalty for registering domain names in bad faith, we can expect cybersquatters to look for a new line of work and in doing so, we will all get a much better browsing experience and advertisers will stop getting junk clicks from the likes of Google and other ad syndication networks.

In a related story, Meg Whitman is going after the following domain names registered by another individual: megwhitmanforgovernor.com, megwhitman2010.com, meg2010.com, whitmanforgovernor.com and whitman2010.com. That’s a cool $250k if she wins (she doesn’t seem to be suing for money though) which would be a great contribution to her campaign fund.

Text appearing on Spront.com

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