Microsoft has performed a clean-up of dodgy domains in the UK, taking action against several companies it says have earned illegal PPC revenues by registering URLs with misspelled variations of its brands.

The software giant said it had conducted legal action against five UK companies over domain-related infringements, as well as reaching a settlement with a firm called Dyslexic Domain Company Ltd.

The moves form part of a global effort by the company to clamp down on cybersquatters, which it says has reclaimed more than 1,100 domain names worldwide in the last six months.

Microsoft said the crackdown was to stop domain owners and online ad networks earning PPC revenues at its expense, but it said it would not be pursuing the networks themselves.

Aaron Kornblum, senior attorney at Microsoft, said:

“These sites confuse visitors who are trying to reach genuine company websites, which can negatively affect corporate brands and reputations as well as impair the end-users’ experience online.

“With every ad hyperlink clicked, a registrant or ad network harvests cash at the trademark owner’s expense, while derailing legitimate efforts by computer users who are trying to go to a specific website.”

According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation, last year saw a 25% rise in the number of cybersquatting disputes.