Industry scuttlebutt has it that a fairly large multifaceted legal action is coming down the chute involving, potentially, scores of litigants and defendants, multiple domain registrars and registrants. As I understand the matter, it will seek to make a federal case out of folks who have tasted names using an active parking page to monetize Trademark typo domains which were held and monetized during the short term 5 day grace period before being deleted.. or deleted and re-registered… This has been brewing for some time but I’ve chosen to blog about it now because the word is out in the community – several outsiders are now chatting about what will surely be a messy situation.
If you don’t deliberately/accidentally taste and monetize large swaths of trademark typo domains you should be fine.. But if you’re a retail registrant who has names at an ICANN accredited registrar where large-scale tasting has occurred, you may have issues with that registrar.. This could potentially turn into a mess for ICANN if a Registerfly situation occurs where innocent retail registrants are caught up within a registrar which starts to implode as a result of legal action stemming from this mess. It would be unfortunate if a registrar is somehow taken down (hardware seized etc) and can’t function for a some period of time, or can’t serve it’s retail registrants.
The stage has been setting for a larger battle relating to domain-tasting and may have been avoided if tasters had not activated and monetized during the 5 day grace period or if they had pre-screened large swaths of overt typos.. keeping only generic typos or longertail generics.
Of course, none of this speaks to the inequity of error search traffic which acts in precisely the same manner as the typo domain names targeted in this action.. Unfortunately for all legitimate registrants, it is much easier for litigants today to pursue an action related to domain names than it is to pursue an action related to ill-gotten error traffic taken via ISP or Browser. That will be a story for another day. If anything, this serves as a harbinger of things to come. The lines of “right” and “wrong” related to monetizing error traffic and trademark-intent traffic are being defined for us.. The writing is on the wall.