Facebook sues free domains registry for cybersquatting
Facebook parent Meta has sued Freenom, the registry behind multiple free-to-register ccTLDs including .tk, claiming the company engages in cybersquatting.
Meta alleges that Freenom infringes its Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp trademarks over 5,000 domain names in the TLDs it operates.
While best-known for Tokelau’s .tk, which had almost 25 million registrations when Verisign stopped counting them a year ago, Freenom also operates .gq for Equatorial Guinea, .cf for the Central African Republic, .ml for Mali, and .ga for Gabon.
Apart from some reserved “premiums”, the company gives domains away for free then monetizes, with parking, residual traffic when the domains expire or, one suspects more commonly, are suspended for engaging in abuse.
Naturally enough, it therefore has registered, to itself, a great many domains previously used for phishing.
Meta lists these names as examples of infringers: faceb00k.ga, fb-lnstagram.cf, facebook-applogin.ga, instagrams-help.cf, instaqram.ml, chat-whatsaap.gq, chat-whatsaap-com.tk, and supportservice-lnstagram.cf, though these do not appear to be monetized right now.
It accuses the registry of cybersquatting, phishing and trademark infringement and seeks over half a billion dollars in damages (at $100,000 domain).
Today, Freenom is not accepting new registrations, but it’s blaming “technical issues” and says it hopes to resume operations “shortly”.
Facebook is one of the most prolific and aggressive enforcers of its trademarks in the domain space, having previously sued OnlineNIC, Namecheap and Web.com. OnlineNIC had to shut up shop due to its lawsuit.
(Via Krebs on Security)
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