Many Internet users take downloading free software over the Web for granted, especially when that download link is located on a seemingly legitimate Website next to the seemingly legitimate logo of the software you are downloading.
However, with increasing prevalence these ‘free download’ links are being used as traps and can be found throughout myriads of Web pages hosted by German servers.
Recognizably, one of the familiar companies hosting freeware or Open Source Software (F/OSS) that is being used on these ‘trap’ fraudulent Websites is the popular internet browser Firefox.
On its Website, Firefox boasts that “switching from IE to Firefox is quick and easy – a safer, faster, more advanced Web is only a few clicks away!”
Unfortunately, this slogan may be a false promise to Web-users browsing German Websites, sites that are designed to entice Web-users to fall prey to traps relying on consumers’ trust built up in FIREFOX brand. In her article “A trap for the speedy FIREFOX? Fighting fraudulent websites offering downloads of Mozilla FIREFOX software” Anthonia Zimmermann outlined the way these Firefox traps work;
“The traps follow a uniform pattern: A Google search for “FIREFOX” leads to search results that redirect to a website offering various well-known F/OSS programs for download. The user is prompted to make a simple quick mouse-click: “DOWNLOAD NOW”, alongside an image of the well-known FIREFOX logo. Users hardly ever notice the hidden small print with information on the price and duration of the contract. They simply agree to the website’s terms and conditions by mouse-click as a matter of routine. But therein lies the trap: The download of a software program supposedly free of charges turns out to be a two-year subscription for a software database at a cost of about 100 Euros p.a. The fraudulent scheme is highly profitable, with some websites issuing as many as 170,000 invoices per week – equaling a weekly invoicing amount of 16.32 million Euros. Even if only a fraction of misled consumers actually pay, this leaves a generous profit.”
Firefox is taking steps to cut down on the prevalence of FIREFOX software available for download on these German hosted ‘trap’ sites;
Mozilla is fighting against these traps using FIREFOX software. As Zimmermann pointed out, Firefox’s parent company, the Mozilla Foundation, has successfully fought back against several subscription traps in Germany through preliminary injunctions based on trademark infringement as well as on unfair competition practice.
Internet Lawyer and Trademark Infringement Attorneys alike represent clients in the fight against fraudulent Websites and Internet scams including these German ‘trap’ free download links. For a free consultation, contact an Internet Lawyer today or call internationally toll free at 866-936-7447.