Companies that poach Internet surfers by registering mispellings of popular Web addresses could soon be halted.
A number of legal cases in the US against companies using so called 'typo piracy' could set a precedent and stop the practice in its tracks, according to industry watchers.
The majority companies that use typo piracy are pornography based.
Last week Citicorp sued Rafael Fortuny who had registered the domain name wwwcitibank.com which omitted the full stop from the bank?s Web address which is www.citibank.com. Surfers who inadvertently missed out the full stop found themselves on the adult site www.clubanytime.com.
Citicorp claims that Fortuny has registered over 50 domain names of high profile companies with small typographical errors that transport surfers off into porn sites.
Earlier this month Paine Webber won a preliminary injunction against Rafael Fortuny for the same incident. Fortuny had registered wwwpainewebber.com which took surfers off to a porn site. Paine Webber is accusing Fortuny of trademark infringement. The disputed address is now on hold pending further court action. It also maintains that Fortuny is ?diluting? is name and trademark.
Some large companies are fighting the typo piracy war by actually registering domain names with obvious misspellings in a bid to stop the trend. The Gillette Company, for example owns www.gilette.com.
Both the Internet community and large corporations are watching the Fortuny cases carefully as they believe they could dictate whether typo piracy will continue to haunt the Internet or fade away.
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