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Source: National Post

Posted on August 22, 2002

      What a difference a hyphen makes. Internet banking enthusiasts hoping to apply for a mortgage or loan at www.td-bank.com are being welcomed with a different sort of offering: Torry, a 20-year-old bisexual who enjoys dancing naked and is turned off by rude people.

      Toronto-Dominion Bank, whose official online address is www.tdbank.com, was left red-faced yesterday after it discovered the insertion of an extra keystroke could lead its customers away from the bank and to an Internet porn site promoting live sex shows.

      The site features a number of topless shots of a reclining Torry, who entices visitors to watch her in action in a free "Web cam" performance.

      Jeff Keay, a spokesman for TD, said the bank's lawyers will likely demand the Web site's owners stop using the name.

      "We don't want anybody using our good name for their own nefarious purposes," he said, adding the bank has yet to contact the operators of the porn address. "We have acted in the past to prevent people from doing that."

      The Web site is registered to Marc Primeau, a Montreal resident. Mr. Primeau could not be reached for comment.

      Mr. Keay, who could not access the site because of filters on the bank's Internet server, maintained a sense of humour about the copycat domain name and drily joked that the situation could have been worse.

      "Well, at least she's 20," he said.

      Whitehouse.com may be the most famous example of a porn site hijacking a recognizable name in order to drum up extra traffic.

      Although whitehouse.com generated a torrent of publicity -- and became an instant embarrassment for the U.S. government, which operates the official www.whitehouse.gov nameplate -- it continues to peddle porn at the same address.

      But corporations tend to be more aggressive in protecting their turf, and chances are good that TD will be successful at closing down the td-bank.com address, suggested Michael Geist, a professor at the University of Ottawa who specializes in Internet law.

      "I think [it] is unquestionably the case that it's relatively easy for corporations that can prove they have a trademark in their name to get that domain name transferred where it's used for a porn site."

      Mr. Keay said some companies simply choose to ignore copycat sites unless they receive a flood of complaints, and added that the problem has been diminished in recent years because fewer people tend to type random domain names directly into their computers.

      "When you use [search engines] to access a company you don't end up at these porn sites masquerading as legitimate companies anyway."

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