Cybersquatter Anticipates Delta/US Airways Merger

CHARLOTTE, N.C. ( MainStreet) -- In the rush to acquire domain names associated with airline mergers that may or may not take place, someone has taken a flier on a deal between US Airways ( LCC) and Delta ( DAL).

The domain name deltausairways.com was registered in Korea on Feb. 1, apparently by a "cybersquatter" registering trademarked names in anticipation of future profits. Neither airline was involved.
The domain name deltausairways.com was registered in Korea on Feb. 1, apparently by a "cybersquatter" anticipating a merger.

US Airways has registered about 10 domain names that might come in handy if it decides to seek a merger with bankrupt AMR. The names, usable as either .com, .net or .org sites, including american-usairways.com, americanairlinesusairways.com, usairways-american.com, usandaa.com and a half-dozen similar names.

On Tuesday, Delta President Ed Bastian, speaking at the JPMorgan ( JPM) transportation conference, was asked if Delta had registered domain names related to US Airways, since published reports have said Delta is considering merger efforts with both US Airways and American. "Not that I'm aware of," Bastian responded. "But I think it's cute."

Cybersquatters "monetize domain names via pay-per-click advertising, affiliate links or some combination of the two," says Te Smith, spokesman for MarkMonitor, a San Francisco-based brand protection company. "It's pretty cheap to register a domain name, throw up a barebones page with links, do a little search engine optimization and draw traffic."

"Because the cost of operating the page/site is low, it doesn't take much traffic or many clicks to more than cover the cybersquatter's costs," Smith says. "Many cybersquatters operate hundreds or thousands of these sites, so the revenue adds up." The cost is about $10 to a couple of hundred dollars a year, she says.

"Well-known brands are the targets for cybersquatters since well-known brands drive searches and traffic," Smith adds. "If you have a strong brand, there is usually someone out there on the Internet trying to hijack it for their own ends."

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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