In Shields v Zuccarini, an action brought against the notorious ‘typosquatter’, John Zuccarini, under the US ACPA, the US court referred to ‘typosquatting’ as:
The intentional registration of domain names that are misspellings of distinctive or famous names, causing an Internet user who makes a slight spelling or typing error to reach an unintended site…
A typosquatter attempts to cash in on the traffic generated by high volume websites. Inevitably many people will type domain names incorrectly. Once domain names started requiring annual rewards, squatters raced to grab domain named when the prior registrant failed to renew.
By 1999, squatters began ‘typosquatting’ – intentionally registering misspellings of popular websites in anticipation that users mistype these domains and reach squatters’ sites.
‘Typosquatting’ may well involve the alteration of more than one letter in a complainant’s mark. The extent to which the spelling of a domain name differs from the spelling of the complainant’s mark must therefore be considered as part of the broader inquiry into whether the domain name and the complainant’s mark are confusingly similar.
A technique known as mousetrapping was often used to profit from the visitor’s mistake. The mousetrapped visitor was trapped in a blizzard of pop-up and pop-under advertisements, often pornographic; inexperienced web surfers were often unable to extricate themselves from the mousetrap without shutting off the computer.