Typosquatting and the .eu Top Level Domain by Kristof Neefs

Imagine a small yet successful business in custom-made T-shirts. They have obtained the trademark “funkfashion” and they sell their products online through the website “funkfashion.eu”. Business is booming and online orders are coming in on a steady daily basis. One day however, consumer e-mails start pouring in, complaining their web browser was spammed with pornographic pop-ups upon visiting the website “funkfaschion.eu”.The above is a classical example of what is known as typosquatting, the in bad-faith registration and occupation of domain names similar to well-known names or trademarks. In result, by relying on typographical or other errors made by internet users inputting the website address in their browser the typosquatter will divert user traffic from the owner of the -in most cases frequently visited- website. This paper examines the legal assessment of typosquatting within the context of the .eu top-level domain.Part I of the paper outlines the origins of typosquatting and it identifies the benefits of registering a domain similar to a well-known trademark or name to typosquatters. It also briefly evaluates potential detrimental effects of typosquatting for consumers and legitimate businesses.Part II then adresses how the launch of the .eu top-level domain anticipated cybersquatting by allowing the holders of a prior right to a name to register the matching .eu domain during phased registration. Neefs assesses whether the phased registration also permitted preventive registering of domains likely to be subject of typosquatting.Part III goes on to describe the alternative dispute resolution mechanism in EC Regulation 874/2004.In conclusion, Neefs argues that typosquatting is sufficiently remedied by the EU regulations on the .eu domain, and I suggest a diligent and pro-active domain registering approach to holders of valuable trademark portfolios.

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