Friday, January 12, 2007

Beckham move sparks cybersquatting frenzy

The announcement of David Beckham's move to the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer team sparked one of the biggest cybersquatting frenzies ever seen, experts said on Friday.

Dozens of Internet-savvy hopefuls pounced on key domain names in a bid to cash in as soon as news emerged on Thursday of the former England captain's multi-million pound move.

Within just over an hour they had registered just about every possible combination of the words "Beckham" and Galaxy" to earn lucrative, Google-style pay-per-click keyword advertising.

One cybersquatter in Milton Keynes registered every version he could of the LA Galaxy team name, hoping to cash in on people looking for more information on the Beckham move.

All his domain names now point to Web sites that feature pay-per-click adverts and the squatters could make thousands from misdirected Internet surfers.

Meanwhile across the Atlantic, an eagle-eyed fan in Arizona managed to register which points to a Beckham fan site.

Another Arizonan registered Californian swooped on

"This is some of the fastest cybersquatting I've ever seen," said Jonathan Robinson, Chief Operating Officer of NetNames, which manages domain name portfolios for a third of the FTSE 100 companies.

"David Beckham is a major international brand and there are clearly many people who have seen an opportunity to cash in.

"Securing these domain names after Beckham's announcement on Thursday was the online equivalent of the first day of the Harrods sale as opportunists fought for the domain name rights."

Victoria Beckham, though, hasn't been quite so popular with cybersquatters.

One anonymous US cybersquatter said, "It's all about David in this instance. He is the one being singled out as the true worldwide brand. Few of us in the US know or care about Victoria."

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