Trends are important. A research director once pushed me to note a trend in some experimental data; a trend which I did not see myself (despite careful analysis). In the presence of a trend, small subtleties assume importance far beyond their inherent value. Seemingly insignificant experimental findings can be considered very important if a trend can be noted.
I’m now noticing a trend.
As Paul Mockapetris would say, it “worked in practice, but not in theory“.
The take-away is that when you see a trend, look for the possibilities despite the risks. Try not to focus on how things “can’t be done that way”. At some point, the marketplace gets to make the rules, even if they override existing rules.
Increasingly, I type something into Google.com and discover the Google box has trimmed my entry at the front end. “John Andrews” shows up as “hn andrews”, which I only discover after Google has already accepted my ENTER keypunch and served up search results for the query “hn andrews”.
Are these really typos, eligible for prosecution under the cybersquatter’s laws? What about less obvious examples? What about mantec.com getting antivirus traffic allegedly intended for symantec.com? What about CROSoft.com getting “typo traffic” from Microsoft.com (CRO is an acronym for Contract Research Organization in medical industries..CROSoft.com is a GREAT name for a CRO software application -SAS- company). Can CROSoft.com be pursued as a cybersquatter for publishing ads for software applications, with a claim it is a Microsoft.com typo?
Credit Card fraud has been rampant for years. Credit card companies have managed those losses mostly behind the scenes (properly, or not, I can’t say). Despite the almost absolute certainty that villains are taking cash money out of our accounts every second of every 24x7x365 day, credit card use has grown to mammoth proportions. Some large businesses that dominate their industries practically can’t function, let alone dominate, without credit cards.
How quickly can you build a portfolio of names built upon the observation of the trend, an expectation that it will continue, and consideration of today’s Cyersquatting laws? For those not actively “domaining”, the business is based on revenue flow. If the site receives direct traffic, that traffic is monetized. No site development is needed… it is all about traffic. If something like Mantec.com received antivirus traffic, and monetized with antivirus ads, it may enjoy a 95% or better conversion rate.
Think of all the front-trimmed names that will get some traffic today, and more tomorrow, yet are arguably not trademark infringing. I recognize that the word “arguably” is the key here, and that lawyers can be expected to increasingly benefit from the growth of the Internet.
Search marketers can think about the resulting skew in the search results and search statistics, as more and more searches for john andrews pass thru “You searched hn andrews. Did you mean john andrews?” We SEOs have long worked to capture typo search traffic, carefully managing whatever case law exists for trademarks in meta tags and such. It seems to me things, well, they are a changin’ again, as usual.
Disclaimer: Please don’t jump in here to admonish me for suggesting typo squatting. I am not recommending trademark infringement. Just as some SEO’s will overreact when I suggest SEO is “gaming”, some will want to jump on me for referencing typos as a business strategy. This is a “thought piece”, intended to raise some awareness and possibly prompt some innovative thought. It is not to be taken “literally” and even if it was, those who execute literally will encounter realities without my help (whether it is the reality of the SEO game, or the reality of trademark/cybersquatting law). Andif they don’t, well, then they were visionaries, no?