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I Could Have Typosquatted ICANN in a Bad Way

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

If I was willing to be a typo squatter, I could typosquat ICANN at a pretty sensitive place.

Earlier today I blogged about the coming opening of the Trademark Clearinghouse. Here is an earlier post in case you need some background.

The domain name and website for the Trademark Clearinghouse is www.Trademark-Clearinghouse.com. I noted in a post earlier today how it was ironic that ICANN got stuck with a suboptimal domain name because other parties had already registered TrademarkClearinghouse.com and TrademarkClearinghouse.org.

But it gets worse! When writing that earlier blog post, I temporarily forgot whether the name of this operation is “Trademark Clearinghouse” or “Trademarks Clearinghouse” (in other words, whether the first word was singular or plural).

I quickly remembered that it is singular, but it occurred to me that many people might misremember that name and might look for “Trademarks Clearinghouse.” After all, it is a clearinghouse for more than one trademark.

So, out of curiosity, I looked to see whether ICANN registered the obvious typo Trademarks-Clearinghouse.com. It didn’t!

That domain name would be an obvious place for a phishing scam. Someone could use that domain name to pretend to be the real Trademark Clearinghouse, perhaps with the hope of duping people into entering credit card information when trying to enter their trademarks in the Clearinghouse.

That won’t happen because I decided to register the domain name in my own name. I’m not cybersquatting it. I’ll be happy to transfer it to ICANN free of charge – not even recouping my registration expense – if and when ICANN contacts me. I won’t activate the domain name or sell it. Perhaps my preemptive registration will keep it away from the bad guys while we wait to see whether ICANN notices.

I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about what this mishandling of domain name registration strategy by ICANN says about how the rollout of new gTLD’s may be handled.