“I’m Not One of Those Evil Typo Dudes” Says The Guys Sued By Microsoft for $2.4 Million
Here’s the case of a non-domainer that has been sued by some of the biggest companies in the world for registering variations of their trademarks and seems not to be a bit bothered by the whole thing.
Meet, Alf Temme, the owner of a California company that sells an exercise machine for $14,615.
In March, Microsoft filed a lawsuit against him and his son Lars over 24 domain names, such as ho0tmail.com and hot5mail.com, that redirect to his company’s Web site, fastexercise.com.
Microsoft’s complaint (PDF)
Microsoft alleges that Temme violated the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and infringed on Microsoft’s Hotmail and MSN trademarks and asked for the ACPA-maximum $100,000 per domain in damages, or a total of $2.4 million.
Temme, who said he (and not his son) indeed owns the domains, said simply to reporters:
“They could have just sent us a little letter and we’ll hand (the domains) over to them,” Temme said. “This is kind of a strange thing that a large company (would) go at it like that.”
Here are the 24 domains at issue
None of the domains went to a PPC page, instead all the domains were redirected to fastexercise.com the site where, Temme’s company sells the ROM Time Machine exerciser for $14,615.
You read it right.
$14,615 per machine.
The company regularly advertises in the Robb Report touting it as the best exercise machine in the world which happens to cost over $14K.
This is not Temme first run in with a Fortune 500 company.
In 2007 Temme was sued by Dell for registering infringing trademark domains and sending the traffic to affiliate programs according to DomainnameWire.com
In Dell v. Temme, a federal judge awarded Dell nearly $130,000 for willful trademark infringement and attorney fees, and ordered an injunction against the use of the domains.
That case involved such domain gems as d3ell.com, de3ll.com, d4ell.com, de4ll.com, dedll.com, derll.com and dxell.com.
AAA, Air France, Alaska Airlines, Register.com, IMDb and America Online also allegedly have sued Temme over typosquatting.
Though he freely admits to “typosquatting,” Temme is complains that Microsoft never sent him a cease-and-desist letter, instead making its first move in court.
He has maintained that he would have surrendered the Web addresses, and still would, if Microsoft asked nicely.
Well Microsoft apparently did not ask nicely, but went straight to court and filed suit.
Last week, Temme got a letter from Microsoft with a settlement offer of $500,000.
Temme didn’t like this any better.
“What Microsoft is in effect trying to do is put a small company of eight employees out of business, “It’s extortion! All they could have wanted to do was get the domain names.”
Temme is quoted as saying: “I’m not one of those meanies who went hiding,” he said. “I’m not one of those evil typo dudes.”
Here is what a $14K machine looks like (pictured about is the the ROM Time Machine) which is advertised to allow you to “exercise in exactly 4 minutes per day. Temme said he has sold 5,300 in the past 20 years.
He likens misspelled domain names to prime real estate. “It’s just like if you were to buy some property next to Disneyland,” he said last month. “Put a hotel on it, you should not be able to get sued for ‘property squatting.’”
He said he plans to transfer all 24 of the domain names in question to a new account on Moniker.com, where he said he registered the typos more than 10 years ago. Then he’ll offer them to Microsoft, he said.
He sees typosquatting as just another form of advertising. “Even though this typosquatting isn’t very nice and clean advertising,” he said, “no form of advertising is nice and clean.”
Now for professional domainers the one thing to take away from this story is the commonly held believe that you can hold all the trademark violating domains you want you just have to give them up when a trademark holder asks for it.
Sometimes the trademark holder doesn’t ask but goes right for the jugular, by filing suit looking for $100K per domain plus attorney fees and costs.
Once you get the reputation as a typo-squatter forget the letter in the mail, the suit will probably come first.