Cybersquatters move in on iPhone Net domain names

The UK launch of the iPhone may be undermined by a lax online policy that has already led to cybersquatting on key sites, according to industry experts. It follows last week’s announcement of the launch date and O2 as launch operator.

NetNames, a company that manages domain names for clients, says that Apple has been slow to shore up its online strategy for the iPhone launch, and cybersquatters have already snapped up the key domain names.

The company has identified one cybersquatter, who has snapped up as many operator-related iPhone domains as possible, including www.o2iphone.co.uk, www.o2iphone.net and www.orangeiphone.co.uk.

The cybersquatting activity was ramped up as speculation mounted over which UK operator Apple would choose for the phone. Cybersquatters registered domains relating to the iPhone, UK mobile operators and pay-per-click advertising.

The fake domain names lead users to sites that feature pay-per-click advertising – some even offering international, unlocked iPhones, thus making money from misdirected consumers. One domain, www.ukiphone.co.uk, pushes users through to another site – www.iPhonessuck.com.

NetNames chief operating officer Jonathan Robinson says: “Online reputation is of the utmost importance to brands, yet many still overlook the threat from cybersquatters.”

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