Of course, the not-so-surprising finding from the study is that Google may be earning almost $500 million per year from domain name registrants who engage in so-called “typosquatting” who then post pay-per-click (“PPC”) ads generated by Google.
The report found that nearly 80% of the typosquatting domains showed pay-per-click advertisements that came from ad platforms operated by Google and Yahoo, which leads the authors to make the following suggestion to help with “typosquatting”:
Because ad platforms are the primary or sole source of revenue for these typo domains, we believe ad platforms are well-positioned to substantially reduce typosquatting. Among other responses, ad platforms could select partners more carefully, select only partners with a demonstrated record of avoiding typosquatting, and/or sever ties to partners who are found to engage in typosquatting. Furthermore, ad platforms could require that new partners showing ads on many domains post a bond that is forfeited upon typosquatting, or deduct penalties from payments to any partners found to engage in typosquatting. To the best of our knowledge, ad platforms have taken none of these steps.
And while the report notes Google’s disavowance of any involvement or responsibility over the registration and use of typosquatting domains, the report states the following regarding why search engines such as Google should (and indeed can) take on more responsibility to help alleviate the problem at their end – rather than forcing trademark owners to go after individual domain name registrants of typosquatting domains:
Despite the simplication resulting from ad platforms' preferred approach, we see multiple problems with ad platforms disclaiming all responsibility for the typosquatting they fund. For one, our analysis confirms that payments from ad platforms are the sole force behind most typosquatting registrations. Further- more, ad platforms are least-cost avoiders -- able to prevent typosquatting with less effort than any other party. In particular, thanks to the semantic analysis capabilities and spelling correction skills search engines gained through their principal businesses, ad platforms are well equipped to identify typosquatting registrations. (Consider Google's well-known and strikingly accurate “Did you mean?" function.) Indeed, search engines already receive information about the domains users visit (necessary to target ads accordingly). It would be straightforward to compare these requests to a list of top trademarks, and disallow parking ads from appearing on domains that are misspellings of popular sites.