Microsoft takes legal action against sites flogging fake Halo 4 beta keys
Microsoft won another case against a website that claims to offer Halo 4 beta keys, earning them a second fake Halo 4 domain name.
The "halo4beta.biz" site promised visitors early access to Halo 4, but instead signed them up for a slew of online offers, according to a National Arbitration Forum ruling last week.
In the ruling, Microsoft filed a complaint against Illinois resident Gerardo Torres (or JerryG as he is known online) over his website, "halo4beta.biz".
The complaint was filed on the grounds that the "halo4beta.biz "domain name was confusingly similar to the Halo mark, that Gerardo Torres did not have the rights or legitimate interests in the domain name, and that the domain name was being used in bad faith.
The decision, which can be viewed in full here, found that Torres was not authorized to use the Halo mark and he made no indication on the site that it was unaffiliated with the Halo brand. "Halo4beta.biz" uses the official Halo logo and concept art and is dressed with the official logos for the Xbox 360, 343 Industries, and Microsoft Game Studios.
The site, registered with Godaddy.com on June 15, 2011, welcomes visitors with the text:
"Welcome to halo4beta.biz, the only place where you can get the Halo 4 beta for free! We give out only 300 beta downloads a week because of the limited amount we have due to popularity. Because of this, you are limtied (sic) to one (1) download per person. The betas work and are 100% functional."
"If you see a page claiming to allow you to sign up for a Halo 4 beta be advised, IT'S A FAKE."
In order to access the non-existent beta, visitors are required to "like" the site on Facebook and post the message "I just got my Halo 4 Beta! Im (sic) so excited! Thanks halo4beta.biz" on their Facebook wall.
By signing up for the fake beta, site visitors are in fact signing up for multiple third-party online offers, according to Microsoft's filing.
"[Torres] is attempting to confuse Internet users as to the affiliation that does not actually exist between Respondent [Torres] and Complainant [Microsoft] and then profiting off that confusion," the National Arbitration Forum found.
"Respondent generates revenues from affiliate fees collected when each Internet user signs up to receive of the offers. [The] Panel concludes that Respondent registered and is using the disputed domain name in bad faith..."
Torres did not respond to the complaints filed against him and the Panel ordered the domain name "halo4beta.biz" be transferred to Microsoft.
This is not the first time Microsoft has cracked down on fake Halo 4 beta sites. Despite Halo 4 developer 343 industries explicitly stating in the past that there would not be a beta for Halo 4, fake websites that purport to offer beta keys continue to appear. Back in January, Halo 4's multiplayer designer, David Ellis tweeted: "If you see a page claiming to allow you to sign up for a Halo 4 beta be advised, IT'S A FAKE."
In early March of this year Microsoft won the rights to "Halo4beta.net" after a panel found that the domain was being used in bad faith. Like "Halo4beta.biz", "Halo4beta.net" infringed on Microsoft's trademark of the Halo brand. The site purported to offer visitors a "HALO 4 beta key installer" and advised that users had to complete third-party offers and surveys in order to receive the key installer.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: "The site ["halo4beta.biz"] is not a Microsoft-sanctioned website and Microsoft is actively pursuing measures to shut down sites like these and protect Halo fans from misdirection or fraud. Any website that solicits enrollments for a 'Halo 4' public beta is not legitimate."
Microsoft has previously taken legal action over domain names. In the past year domain names such as "xboxatomic.com", "xboxwiredcontroller.com", "microsoft-kinect.com", "xboxonline.com", and "instantxboxlive.com" have all been transferred to Microsoft after complaints filed to the National Arbitration Forum.
We contacted Torres for comment and will update this story when they respond.