Google Wins Legal Battle Against ‘Spammer’ Over the Letter ‘G’

Vitaly Popov, who registered a fake Google.com domain last year, was unlikely to ever win.

Vitaly Popov has lost. Popov, an alleged Russian spammer who owns ɢoogle.com—note the Latin ‘G’ at the start of the URL—had been bombarding Google Analytics pages with fake referrals. But on Thursday an arbitration forum ordered that the domain be transferred to Google.

“There was no chance,” Popov told Motherboard in an email after the decision.

In the run up to the US election, Popov, who disputes whether he’s a spammer under US spamming laws, flooded users’ Google Analytics with unwanted messages, including some expressing support for then presidential candidate Donald Trump. He followed up with a wave of messages linking back to a Motherboard article describing his antics.

Some of Popov’s referrals came from ɢoogle.com, which he registered in March 2016. Predictably, that domain did not sit well with the real Google.

“Google requests that the Panel issue a decision that the Domain Name registration be transferred to Google,” the company wrote in a complaint in December 2016.

ADR Forum, the arbitration body handling this case, agreed.

“Having established all three elements required under the ICANN [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] Policy, the Panel concludes that relief shall be GRANTED,” ADR’s decision reads. “Accordingly, it is Ordered that the <ɢoogle.com>domain name be TRANSFERRED from Respondent to Complainant.”

Specifically, ADR Forum found—rather unsurprisingly—that Popov had created “an identical or confusingly similar domain name.”

Even though Popov was unlikely to ever keep hold of the ɢoogle.com site for very long, he still feels hard done by, saying that Google won on a “blatant lie.” Popov previously claimed he doesn’t actually produce spam, because his Google Analytics work is not traditional spam emails. He also complained of not receiving a hard copy of case documents.

The forum, Popov said, “is very comfortable to take away domains from owners.”

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com