Microsoft has launched a series of lawsuits in the US and Europe against “cybersquatters”, and will urge other companies to help tackle what remains a growing problem on the internet. Microsoft’s initiative will be seen as encouragement to brandholders around the world to take action against cybersquatters.

Cybersquatting is the registration of a domain name based on the trade mark of another business, or one very similar to it, with the intent to profit from it. Cybersquatters may offer to sell the name to the trade mark owner for an extortionate price, or seek to make money from internet traffic accidentally landing on the page.

Cybersquatters are turning to new tactics such as “typosquatting”, where they register a domain name that is a misspelling of a popular brand – such as “micrsoft.com”,“hotmai.com” or “utub.com”. Some typos present enough of a grey area to make them difficult to pursue the perpetrators through the courts. For instance, one enterprising Canadian student, the fortuitously (?) named Mike Rowe, has registered the domain name “MikeRoweSoft.com”. Microsoft was forced to settle the case with him.

The company has however reached a settlement with Dyslexic Domain, a London-based business which was alleged to have registered more than 6,000 domain names, including several targeting Microsoft. Dyslexic Domain will not only hand over the domain names but also the profits it has made from them.