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Twitter goes after born-again typosquatter

Twits need protecting from themselves

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Twitter has filed a cybersquatting complaint against the owner of the typo domain name twiter.com, seven years after it was first registered.

The website at twiter.com currently bounces visitors to one of a number of dodgy competitions that try to persuade them to sign up to premium SMS text-message services.

These site generally "borrow" the look and feel of Twitter, Facebook or YouTube, offer iPads as prizes, and urge visitors to sign up to quiz services that – if you read the small print – cost £1.50 per text.

To recover the domain, Twitter has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation using the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy, an anti-cybersquatting policy created by ICANN.

UDRP has a filing fee of about $1,500, and is designed to give big brand names a way to seize domain names that infringe upon their trademarks that is far cheaper than resorting to the courts.

To claim its prize, Twitter will have to prove that the domain was registered in bad faith. This could be tricky, given that Twitter launched in July 2006 and twiter.com was first registered in 2004.

UDRP panelists typically rule that domains cannot be registered in bad faith if they were registered before the trademark even existed. Twitter acquired its trademark in 2007.

However, historical Whois records show that twiter.com may have changed ownership once or more over the last few years, most recently in April this year.

WIPO currently advises its adjudicators that when a domain is transferred to a new registrant, the clock is reset and it can be treated as a new registration.

This twist means Twitter likely has a stronger case than it may first appear, and may be the reason it waited for five years before going after the domain name. ®

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