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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Vulcan Golf v. Google Trial Will Tarnish Google Brand

The Vulcan Golf, LLC v. Google Inc. et al lawsuit is going to shine lights in dark corners. For example, read the excellent update from Sarah Bird of SEOmoz:
A trial will tarnish the Google brand. When you think of Google, do you think of cybersquatting or typosquatting? Are you even aware that Google derives revenue by partnering with squatters? I recently wrote a sarcastic post about TANG (Typo Advertising Network by Google). Despite being a joke, the screenshots and the example domain in that post are real.

It's also worth pointing out that Google uses the term squatter on their corporate site. Explaining why a user might see pop-ups, Google writes (emphasis mine):
You may have encountered a squatter with an address similar to Google's. Occasionally, individuals will register domain names that are one letter off from a well-known URL in hopes of attracting those who make mistakes in their typing. Please be sure to enter into your browser and the pop-ups may go away.
So, on the one hand, Google's decrying the evils of squatters on their corporate site, while quietly making money from typosquatting. Sorry, Google, you can't play both sides. Either clean up the AdSense for Domains program or drop it entirely. The burden shouldn't be on your customers to somehow stumble across the information needed to block traffic from potential cybersquatters.

When I've found this kind of typosquatting traffic in clients' server logs, they've been shocked that the origin is Google AdWords. A few have contemplated taking legal action. Some have received click fraud refunds from Google. If the Vulcan Golf v. Google case progresses, more advertisers will start to sift through the obfuscated URLs to find Google earning money from typosquatting sites like these:
No, I'm not linking to the potential typosquatters. Cut-and-paste them into your browser and see for yourself. These are real examples I've found. I didn't want to post about them in the past because they might impact some clients. However, since it is now possible to opt out of AdSense for Domains traffic in an AdWords account, I can start to post more freely about these kinds of issues.

Does anybody have any examples of their own to share? ;-)

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Anonymous E Schaefer said...


It is pretty amazing that Google and others have escaped the spotlight on this important issue for so long. The primary defense which Google uses in matters such as this is that they don't review any of the websites before putting up ads. It's kind of a "hear no evil, see no evil" kind of approach. But the reality is they are 110% aware that their program is being used by cybersquatters. Of course, they profit off of the cybersquatter's activities and have, until now, little incentive to change their ways.

I do agree the Google brand is very positive in the market. They have had very few black eyes along their successful path. This issue does have the potential to change all of that.

For more information about cybersquatting, you can click the link above for our cybersquatting blog. Keep up the great blogging.

Mon Apr 21, 11:45:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


THIS might get interesting, as it sheds light on tactics closing in on the ones that you have discovered long ago.

Wed Apr 23, 04:12:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Hi Enrico. Thanks very much for taking the time to comment. I do wonder if the Google brand will suffer as Google's cybersquatting revenues are revealed.

BTW, nice interview in Modern Domainer magazine (pdf)!

Wed Apr 23, 10:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes, Google (and Yahoo for that matter), does take advantage of new advertisers' ignorance. Automatically opting users into the content network w/o making it entirely clear this is happening is bad practice. However, I doubt that Google ad fraud case will get very far. I'm sure Google will argue it's up to advertisers to read the fine print.

I think they'd have a stronger argument about distribution fraud - that advertisers are opted into AdSense for Domains on *both* the search and content networks. That might have some merit.

Wed Apr 23, 11:03:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

richard, advertiser question here. when you opt out of the domain ads using the site and category exclusion tool, does it eliminate the ads coming through the search network from the parked domains? not clear here. thanks and you blog is excellent.

Sat Apr 26, 11:52:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Richard said...

Yes, anonymous advertiser, opting out of the parked domain page type via the site and category exclusion tool applies to the search network, as well. This is a confusing design by Google since that tool is a content network tool. The What page types can I exclude help page says:

"The AdSense for domains network is encompassed by both the content network and the search network. If you exclude this page type, you'll exclude all parked domain sites, including the ones on the search network."

Also, see the guest post I wrote over at Search Engine Journal, Google AdWords Feature: AdSense for Domains Opt Out. The screenshot in the example is for a campaign that's opted into the search network but not the content network.

Tue Apr 29, 05:27:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have had Parked domains checked (as in "You can choose to opt out by selecting one or more of the following options") in Site and Category Exclusion since the day google made it available to me. This is a campaign on the content network only. The site and category exclusion tab shows no impressions in the category Parked domains but the placement reports still show Parked domains in the special category field.

I withdrew from the content network on discovering parked domain advertising and came back when they introduced category exclusion. I'm considering withdrawing from the content network again because I am still getting parked domains. My conversions from parked domains in general is very poor.

Tue May 06, 11:56:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Curtis said...


Google will have a DUTY to end this practice soon. I will add them in my 1st amendment as conspirators.

My case was just filed as a severely brain injured Pro Se pauper litigant.

Google is my favorite search engine.

Tue Nov 03, 03:30:00 AM EST  
Blogger Curtis said...

I advised Google Sunday of my TM lawsuit with the form and a direct email that was read then ignored.

I will add them as the business that is controlling

Follow the protest URL Re NameMedias malicious act of cybersquatting.

Who controls a parked site is in the Vulcan Golf case.

I think the business that sells ads on the site will be the view the jury supports.

Wed Nov 04, 06:52:00 PM EST  
Blogger Curtis said...

I sued Google Inc, Network Solutions Inc and NameMedia earlier this week and today filed to have my interrogatories served if not granted a Summary Judgment. The domain industry is about to implode and you can say that you saw it starting firsthand.
One question was what do Defendants think about Network Solution violating the trademarks and copyrights of domains they do not own and how do you each benefit from this procedure.

What does each Defendant call an “expiring domain name” and how long does it take from
beginning to expire to the end of the expiration or how long does the expiration last? How
much does each Defendant make by giving this instantaneous process the transitive verb ending and how much does Defendant Google Inc make every day due to the phrase
“expiring domain name” being googled? Plaintiff sees the words result in estimates of
$.25-$.50 per day on a $1.00 budget as evidence will show.

How many misspellings of the trademarked domain does Defendant Google
Inc license or display ads on and how does each Defendant rationalize uses like, or and how much does Defendant Google
receive from for sponsored ads while Defendant Google simultaneously
licenses numerous trademark violating domains of a paying Google Inc client?

Gentlemen the lady you hear singing is HEAVY but one commonly used disparaging saying calls her FAT! This and referred to opera songs that were typically sung at the end of a performance by a woman when most opera performers were overweight.


Mon Nov 23, 05:22:00 PM EST  
Blogger Curtis said...

Punitive damages must PUNISH and BILLIONS will be needed to adequately punish Google.
The Docket is online for free on my site but has links to the court filing in PACER as well. Pacer charges .08 per page.
They are added and will soon answer.
See the Docket HERE

Fri Feb 26, 11:18:00 AM EST  

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