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Microsoft, Dell, Yahoo Sound Off on Cybersquatters

The INTA issued a warning on behalf of its members to the public, alerting them to the growing threat of domain name cybersquatters

NEW YORK -- The International Trademark Association (INTA) today issued a warning on behalf of its members to the public, alerting them to the growing threat of domain name cybersquatters who deliberately mislead consumers and defraud online businesses.

Also today, INTA members Dell Inc., Microsoft Corp., Time Warner Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Yahoo! Inc. announced their stance against cybersquatters who target their respective brands. This week, each of these INTA members intends to pursue individual legal actions against a total of twenty-two cybersquatting operations to provide a more secure online experience and to prevent the violation of genuine trademark rights.

Cybersquatters target businesses and consumers by registering Internet domain names (such as www. yahoomusic.com and www.microsoftcomputers.com) that are confusingly similar to legally protected company names and internationally recognized trademarks.

Cybersquatters employ a variety of deceptive practices to entrap Internet users and to defraud companies.

These techniques include:

  • Typosquatting – the use of common Internet domain name misspellings to draw users away from their intended destinations.
  • Phishing – the use of fraudulent emails to divert traffic to websites for the purposes of soliciting personal financial information.

    This alarming trend affects everyone who uses the Internet, including children who may be misdirected to adult-only sites when they innocently mistype a brand name into their browsers.

    Once misdirected through such deceptive practices, consumers can be bombarded with advertisements, pornographic material, unlawful spyware and even harmful computer viruses.

    In the end, these tactics can generate revenue for cybersquatters through pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements or through illegal scams based on stolen sensitive consumer information, including Social Security, and personal bank and credit card account numbers.

    Dell Inc. (Nasdaq: DELL)

    Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)

    Yahoo Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO)