Monday, July 02, 2007

Trademark Dilution would apply to spammers

I repeatedly get unsolicited emails, cleverly set up, from banks claiming all kinds of things: that my online banking is suspended, that I need to do a system test, that I have overdue bills, etc. Of course, we all know that this is “social engineering” and that these are the well known phishing scams. If one follows the hyperlink on such an email, one finds a link other than the bank, an IP address that, if looked up on WHOIS, tracks to overseas, often China.

These emails have the bank trademarks, with sender addresses cleverly spoofed to look like they come from the bank. Of course, as noted earlier, this argues for replacing email with protocol safer than SMTP, but the main point here is how the spammers use the bank trademarks, and format their pages to look exactly like the banks’ legitimate emails.

Bank of America seems to be the main target. The spammers love to reproduce its red, white and blue trademark.

It strikes me that this kind of activity provides a legitimate use of the Trademark Dilution Revision Act as passed. A bank can now say that it does not have to prove financial harm yet in order to claim tarnishment or dilution, which this kind of criminal activity obviously represents. But legal action may be of little value overseas.

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