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3/14/2007
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Microsoft Takes Aim At Cybersquatters

The company is stepping up efforts against those who illegally profit from Microsoft trademarks by registering domains with slightly altered spellings.

Cybersquatters beware -- Microsoft is coming after you.

The software maker said Tuesday that it will more aggressively pursue legal action against companies that create domain names that are misspellings of Microsoft product names in order to capture Internet traffic from typo-prone computer users.

To emphasize the point, Microsoft announced that it has filed a lawsuit against a U.S.-based cybersquatter that operates under the name Maltuzi LLC. Microsoft claims the company illegally profits from its trademarks by registering domains such Winowslivemessenger.com (note the lack of the letter D) in order to redirect wayward Web surfers to sites operated by its partners.

Maltuzi, which Microsoft has sued in U.S. District Court for Northern California, describes itself as "an Internet domain name holding company" and claims it has registered more than 100,000 domain names.

Microsoft also announced that it has filed a lawsuit in the state of Washington to uncover the identities of a group of cybersquatters that are anonymously operating Web sites under names that allegedly infringe on Microsoft trademarks.

Microsoft also said it has reached a settlement with U.K.-based cybersquatter Dyslexic Domain Co. Ltd.

In 1999, Congress passed the U.S. Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, which makes it illegal to register domain names that infringe on the trademark rights of individuals or corporations.

Despite such laws, cybersquatting continues to flourish. The U.N.'s World Intellectual Property Organization says that disputes related to domain name registration increased 25% in 2006.

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