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Microsoft tackles cybersquatters

Five companies 'infringe Microsoft’s brand'

Microsoft is seeking damages from two companies it claims have registered domain names infringing its trademarks and brand. It has settled similar disputes with three other businesses.

Microsoft has received unspecified damages from one UK firm, Cardiff-based Dyslexic Domain Company. DDC had registered more than 6,000 domain names, some of which infringed Microsoft's rights, the company claimed. The two businesses have now reached a settlement.

In the US, Microsoft agreed to settle for $2m a suit filed against Jason Cox of New Mexico and a Utah company, Newtonarch LLC, and concerning over 300 domain names. Microsoft also reached a $1m settlement with Dan Brown of California, who trades as Partner IV Holdings.

Microsoft filed a suit against Maltuzi LLC of California for registering large blocks of domain names including some close to Microsoft brands.

The company filed an additional civil lawsuit for cybersquatting in Seattle, against 54 unnamed individuals. Filing suits with anonymous individuals is a legal technique that permits further investigation to get their names, Microsoft said.

Microsoft amended a suit filed in August 2006 in the US District Court in Seattle to add the names of the owners of 217 domain names it contests the rights to. It added three defendants regarding an additional 135 domains.

Cybersquatters register domain names containing not only recognised brand names but misspelled variations of them, such as www.micros0ft.com. This tricks web users into visiting them. These sites often feature pay-per-click advertising that generates revenue for the domain owner.

Aaron Kornblum, a senior attorney with Microsoft said: "These sites confuse visitors who are trying to reach genuine company websites, which can negatively affect corporate brands and reputations as well as impair the end-users' experience online."

Microsoft has reclaimed more than 1,100 domain names in the past six months containing Microsoft phrases or common brand names.

Microsoft claims that registering trademarked Microsoft names violates the 1999 Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, a US law which carries a fine of as much as $100,000 for anyone that violates it.

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