Twitter files dispute over Twitter.org, domain being used for scam surveys

Twitter.org

Twitter has filed a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) over the domain name Twitter.org.  Today, people who type Twitter.org into their internet browser are sent to a web page that looks confusingly similar to the popular microblogging site.  A landing page appears that tries to lure people into taking a scam survey.

WIPO Case Number D2013-0062, which became active this week, is one of less than a dozen domain disputes that have been filed by Twitter and the first for the company in 2013.  Every single case has ended in Twitter’s favor thus far, in some instances without a decision even being handed down by an arbitration panel.  The case for TwitterSearch.com, for example, was terminated, but eventually transferred to Twitter’s control.

Its last dispute over the typo domain Twittter.com (with an extra ‘t’), filed in late 2011 with WIPO, was very similar to this one in that unsuspecting users were lured to a site that looked confusingly similar to the official Twitter site.   The user was then guided through a series of questions that attempted to gather personal information by promising free gifts like an iPad 2.

The surveys that are shown when people try to go to Twitter.org are more current in technology though, offering gifts like the iPhone 5.

According to WHOIS historical records, the domain Twitter.org was registered in the mid-2000s, only months after the dotcom was registered.  The name stayed with its owner, a resident of New York, up until mid-2011 when it began changing hands.

Before redirecting users to a variety of web addresses serving up online surveys, the name was parked and displayed third party advertisements.  Here’s a screenshot of Twitter.org back in 2006.

Twitter.org

As of right now, Twitter.org (WHOIS) is privately registered through Moniker, so it’s unknown who currently owns the name.

Cases like these are usually slam dunks in favor of the complainant.  Last year at this time, Google won a similar case involving YouTube typo domain names.  Not long before that, LinkedIn filed a dispute over LinkdIn.com which redirected users to survey scams.   The company eventually took ownership of the name and withdrew its complaint.

As with any Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP), to win the dispute, Twitter must demonstrate that all of the elements enumerated in paragraph 4(a) of the Policy have been satisfied:

(1) that the disputed domain name registered by the Respondent is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark or service mark in which the Complainant has rights; and

(2) that the Respondent has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the disputed domain name; and

(3) that the disputed domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith

Stay tuned for updates…

Talking about this story: Marketing Land and Domain Name Wire

2 comments
Typo Assassin
Typo Assassin

One of the issues that your post hints it, is that typo domains can be switched to redirect anywhere - within seconds - at any time. You see, all the millions of typo domains that are currently routing to "harmless" and low EPC ppc landing pages, can switch to scarier and more profitable high EPC destinations such as scams like this, phishing schemes e.g. asking for your twitter password, and affiliate links for the brand that is being typo'd - essentially stealing profits from the brand. These typo domains are all time-bombs waiting to happen - either carried out by the domain owner, someone who buys the domain from them, or someone new who comes along upon expiry/deletion. If twitter had an affiliate program, I bet many of the current typo domains for twitter.com would switch over to it, in order to make even more money off their backs.