Misspelling domain names is easy enough that the government doesn't let companies take advantage of it — and Facebook has just been awarded nearly $2.8 million in a case against several people and groups that tried to profit off of its popularity. Using misspelled domain names for profit, commonly known as typosquatting, was made illegal in the United States by the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) in 1999. In a ruling yesterday, a judge awarded Facebook damages from the inappropriate use of well over 100 domain names, from simple misspelling such as fadebook.com and rfacebook.com to plays on its name including facebookfreezer.com and wwwfaceboobs.com.
Lawsuits against typosquatters aren't uncommon, but reclaiming a domain is often resolved more quickly through a process governed by ICANN. Facebook's case was initially filed in 2011, however ICANN's process would not have allowed the company to receive monetary damages. Under the ACPA, damages can go as high as $100,000 per domain, but it can change depending on several factors, including how the domain was used and to what extent it included the popular name that it was mimicking. Because there were so many domains that played off of Facebook's name in a number of different ways, the court had to rule on each domain name individually. It ultimately gave Facebook a large sum, but much less than what the company asked for.