In the largest cybersquatting ruling ever, a US District Court in Northern California has granted a whopping $33.15 million to Verizon Communications, in a case against OnlineNIC, an internet domain registration firm.
According to filings from Verizon, the San Francisco-based company OnlineNIC had registered around 663 domain names that were quite similar to Verizon’s trademarks, like iphoneverizonplans.com, verizononline.com, myverizonwireless.com, and 123verizonphones.com.
The court ruling notified that OnlineNIC has intentionally registered these confusing domain names to attract Verizon’s customers, and granted the telecom $50,000 per domain name.
Quoting the significance of the judgement against the soaring issue of cybersquatting, Sarah Deutsch, Verizon’s vice president said in a statement, “This case should send a clear message and serve to deter cybersquatters who continue to run businesses for the primary purpose of misleading consumers”.
In addition, Verizon purported that OnlineNIC has registered as many as 90,000 distinct domain names similar to those of the websites maintained by Yahoo, Google, Wal-Mart, and MySpace.
The ruling ordered OnlineNIC, which was absent from the court, to transfer the fraudulent domain names to Verizon, and banned OnlineNIC from registering domain names similar to that of Verizon’s.
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OnlineNIC's crushing defeat will hopefully send a clear message to potential cybersquatters who make heaps of money by tricking web users into visiting their websites. According to some though, this practice is common place with some registrars changing nameservers of expired domain names to point to theirs and doing what is called "domain tasting".
(IT Business Edge)