Pointer Blog / How to Identify a Cluster of Infringing Domains – A Success Story

How to Identify a Cluster of Infringing Domains – A Success Story

An innovative attack scores big for Pointer clients

One of our talented brand protection analysts managed to uncover a mass amount of domains coming from the same owner, otherwise known as a cluster. Overall, there were roughly 28,000 domains found and submitted for takedowns.


How did we crack it?

One of our dedicated brand protection analysts noticed a large number of peculiar domains which were selling one of our client’s products. After asking our investigations team to look into the websites in case they found anything suspicious, it was decided that they were, in fact, rather suspicious. They found that certain parts of the websites—for example, the shipping and returns pages—were identical on every site. These similarities in the website design and content indicated that they were owned and operated by the same domain holder, which is indicative of a counterfeit ring.


After the initial results were in, we then started scraping for the brand names of our other clients on the landing pages of these domains and uncovered 2,446 domains selling one of our biggest client’s products, 1,687 domains from another large client, as well as a host of other results that infringed on a large number of our smaller-to-medium sized clients. By adapting our searches to different settings, we ended up scouring more than just the front page of listings in order to find out which domain name was offering which brand, allowing us to provide our individual clients with better results. As an example of the individual results due to this breakthrough, we were able to more than double the total number of domains in one of our client’s databases.


These results and approach are especially useful for smaller clients as they can identify and ultimately, remove a large amount of infringing domains all at once. However, as a whole, this is a great accomplishment in terms of establishing a new scraping method and uncovering a new big player in the counterfeiting world.


The next steps

Identifying clusters always feels like a break in a cold case. It’s thrilling to know that a major player in the counterfeiting industry has been identified and dealt with, but we also know that this isn’t the end for this particular seller. When the infringer has a large stock of counterfeit products, they’re not going to give up without a fight. We’re anticipating that they’re going to attempt to develop more avenues to sell their stock. However, with their data collected and their tactics laid bare, we’re prepared for their next move. And in this breath, we will still be searching for more related domains to investigate how these particular sellers are operating.


Have you spotted a fake?

If you think you might have come across a fake domain, you can inform us through our website here. We’ll do the investigating to ensure that your online shopping experience is a safe one. By submitting a suspicious listing or website, you also help us build our database of infringers, allowing us to be even more thorough in our searches and potentially lead us to more breakthroughs like the one mentioned above. You, too, can be a part of the solution by helping us defend hard-working brands while making online shopping a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone involved.


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