Microsoft has sued domain name registrar Red Register claiming that it is illegally profiting from Microsoft's trademarks.
In a lawsuit filed in Seattle earlier this month Microsoft alleges that Red Register snatched up 125 domain names, all "confusingly similar to Microsoft's Marks" in order to profit from Web advertising, a practice known as typosquatting and cybersquatting.
Web surfers may be tricked into clicking on ads on these sites "because the person finds it easier to click on the advertisement or hyperlink than to continue searching for the Microsoft site, or because the person mistakenly believes Microsoft has authorized or endorsed the advertisements," the filings state.
Typosquatting is the practice of registering domain names that contain misspellings of trademark terms. Cybersquatting is the registration of a variant of trademark.
Red Register owns domains such as windowslivecare.com, msnmesnger.com, and ageofmathology.com, Microsoft said in court filings.
Microsoft is seeking to take control of the Red Register domains and is asking for the court to fine the company for unspecified damages. The lawsuit was filed Dec. 4 in King County Superior Court in Seattle.
Although the domains are now registered to a Tortola, Virgin Islands, company named Versata Software, they were previously registered to Red Register and Microsoft believes the current Versata registration information to be false, the filings state.
Domain registrars historically made money by registering domain names to third parties, but that has changed as it has become easier to get into the domain name game. Now many registrars have begun to amass portfolios of domains themselves, or even temporarily registering domains and then dropping them before they are required to pay any fees, a practice called "domain tasting," said Karl Kronenberger, a partner with Kronenberger Burgoyne LLP, a law firm specializing in Internet disputes.
Some companies have even set up several domain name registrars and they pass their domain names from one to the other without ever having to pay fees. This is possible, because domains can be held for three days before any fees are due, Kronenberger said.