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12|30|2008 07:01 pm EDT

FastCompany And TechCrunch On New TLDs and Cybersquatting

by Adam Strong in Categories: News

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Chris Dannen of FastCompany blogged his thoughts on the pending release of new TLDs . Dannen feels that the release of the new domain extension will spur a rebirth of cybersquatting.  Too bad Dannen, like many others, has bought in to the idea that cybersquatting equals buying and selling domain names or merely owning more than one domain.  He cites an example of an Iraq War veteran and friend of his who bought up and sold domain names to supplement his income. I’m not sure what this friend of his owns but the act of buying domain names and selling them is not really cybersquatting.  Cybersquatting is illegal. Speculating on domains is not. Owning thousands of domains is not. Selling domains is not.

Dannen also buys in to the message that seems to be one propelling the introduction of new TLDs forward “the Web is running out of memorable domain names.”  Highly unlikely given the number of TLDs we currently have, language variations and made up words and names that are created every day.  Even the name ipod, a name he uses in his piece, meant nothing a mere 7 years prior.

Cyber squatters will suddenly have billions of new domain names to purchase for only a few dollars — no longer will they have to rely on buying domains more expensively secondhand. Trademark infringement suits will balloon from tens or hundreds of domains to thousands and tens of thousands.

Jason Kincaid of TechCrunch follows up to the FastCompany piece, essentially stating that nobody really cares about all these new extensions.  Sure there will be squatters and speculators grabbing up a bunch of domains and it may keep the lawyers busy. We can however look at the history of the latest and greatest new TLD and see that this game is pretty much played out.  A new TLD needs an audience and type-ins and a reason for people to gravitate to it.

As Kincaid points out, people generally don’t navigate to these new TLDs through typeins contrary to what Dannen seems to be saying. The new TLDs are not recession proof in our opinion either.  How well are those .mobi aftermarket sales going right about now?  The Fortune article by Paul Sloan talking about domains as recession proof is clearly dated, given the downward trend that all in the domain space have been feeling.

12|30|2008 06:24 pm EDT

Bodybuilder Found Guilty of “Cyber-Piracy” and Trademark Dilution in American Indian Tribe Domain Name Case

by Adam Strong in Categories: Legal Issues

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According to the Miami Herald, bodybuilder Steven Thiele, has been found liable of cyber-piracy and trademark dilution.  He was ordered to pay $3000 plus legal fees.  Thiele had previously demanded the Indian tribe pay $500,000 each for the domain names miccosukeetribeofindiansofflorida.com, miccosukeetribeofindians.com and billycypress.com. The tribe recently had won a default judgment when Thiele did not respond.

Thiele may wish to count his blessings in this case, considering Verizon was just recently awarded $50,000 each for the OnlineNic domain name squatting violations that were also default judgments.

12|30|2008 05:46 pm EDT

LiveDeal.com Sells YP.com for $3.85 million

by Adam Strong in Categories: Up to the Minute

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It was previously reported that LiveDeal.com sold YP.com to Yellowpages.com.  SEC filings by LiveDeal.com reveal that the recent sale of the YP.com website brought a sale price of $3.85 million.

Our divestiture of our Internet property “www.yp.com” could adversely impact our revenues.

On November 5, 2008, we entered into an agreement to sell our Internet domain name “www.yp.com” to YellowPages.com for a cash payment of $3,850,000.

While this sale is not specifically for a domain name, Apparently this WAS a domain name only sale, so this definitely does provide for interesting discussion and speculation on the value of the YP.com domain name.

12|30|2008 01:37 am EDT

JudicialWatch.org Claims Obama Illegally Granted Change.gov Domain Name

by Adam Strong in Categories: Legal Issues

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obamaGovernment watchdog JudicialWatch posted an article today declaring the domain name Change.gov, the location of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s newest website may have been illegally granted.  According to the site, Obama’s team initially requested and was denied use of the domain name Change.gov, but the domain was later granted after pressure from his staff.  (more…)

12|28|2008 02:50 am EDT

Reverse User Name Hijackings Next?

by Adam Strong in Categories: Legal Issues

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Days after our post that social media user names are becoming more like domain names, an issue over a Twitter user name has piqued the interest of an internet heavy-weight.  According to a seesmic post from Kevin Rose, creator of Digg.com,  Social media company Room214 has requested that the user, a school teacher, who is using @room214 give them the user name.   The company Room 214 uses the Twitter user name @room_214 and wants the better name now.

For those unfamiliar with the terminology, reverse domain name hijacking is defined on wikipedia as “the practice of inequitably unseating domain name registrants by accusing them of violating weak or non-existent trademarks related to the domain name.”  In essence what we seem to be seeing here is a similar case of someone trying to unseat a Twitter user, or a case of reverse user name hijacking on Twitter.  According to Stepan Mazurov of Room 214 “once it goes through . . . we have to protect it”, which seems to imply that they plan to move forward with requesting Twitter give them the user name.

Rose weighed in on this issue and posted a Seesmic video opening up the discussion. As of this writing, there were 12 video replies posted back with varying opinions on the matter, none seem to be from a legal expert, yet.  We suspect more to come as this issue rises to the surface.  Chris Hadley points out the similarities user names have with domain names and how users losing Twitter accounts can become a real nightmare. “What protection do we have over our Twitter accounts . . .  if this guy loses his Twitter account to this company, how do you protect yourself”.

Twitter’s policy states in barebones terms that they reserve the right to take user names and give them to another entity :

We reserve the right to reclaim usernames on behalf of businesses or individuals that hold legal claim or trademark on those usernames.

Under this policy what happens when you have a generic user name and someone has a trademark on that term, or if your company name or even intials are the same or as another company name ?  There are multiple trademarks for the word United, so which user has the “rights” to that user name under this vague policy?  It seems to be whomever Twitter feels like giving it to.  Will the Twitter account @bmw be given to the auto maker when they come knocking ?

DNN issued our view on the matter in our previous post and it reflects a sentiment similar to what Hadley said

“Just like domain name owners, social media users don’t want the hassle and uncertainty of having to wonder whether their name will be taken away.  Surely, the social media companies don’t want to be in the middle of the disputes either.  Refering to the history of domain names as an example, it would be a safe wager that lawsuits and arbitration over user names is right around the corner.  It would be best for these social media companies to get ahead of the issue as soon as possible and make the user names even more like domain names by providing some level of security and stability to their users.”

12|24|2008 03:17 pm EDT

Verizon Wins $33 Million Judgement Against Registrar OnlineNic

by Adam Strong in Categories: Legal Issues

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According to Businesss Week and other sources, Verizon has won a legal battle against registrar OnlineNic in a default judgement. The decision awarded Verizon $50,000 per domain name (663 in total).  Andrew at DomainNameWire points out that this is one of several cases Verizon has brought up against domain name companies. Most of the past cases were settled, most likely for less than $33 million.

One has to wonder why OnlineNic,  a US based registrar, failed to negotiate settlement terms or even participate in the legal proceedings like others who have been sued by Verizon. Verizon representatives point out

OnlineNIC did not appear in court or send a lawyer to defend against the charges.

OnlineNic has a US presence and a US address listed in the whois. However, I believe the company is owned by parent company China Channel based in China.  I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know the intricacies of collecting on a judgment like this.  I imagine that their presence in the US makes them just as susceptible to suit as any other company.  Anyone of our readers in the legal arena care to comment ??

12|24|2008 12:58 am EDT

Domainers Aren’t Early Adopters

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

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Some of the more outspoken veterans of the domain name business like to think of themselves as early adopters, likely because of their early awareness and insight into the power of domain names.  However, for most domainers this early adoption of one particular form of naming has not carried over to early adoption in other emerging internet media.

Sahar Sarid wrote about  “Your name = Your brand“, citing examples of several domain name industry veterans who did or did not own their name in .com   While domain names remain a powerful vehicle for controlling personal branding, the growth in social media is also increasing the importance of other forms of naming.  As we pointed out earlier, user names on social media platforms are already being compared to domain names. If protecting your personal name is important in .com, it should be just as important to protect your name on the new social media sites. (more…)

12|23|2008 11:35 pm EDT

Sedo weekly sales up to December 22

by Chad Kettner in Categories: Domain Sales

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It’s time for another weekly summary of Sedo’s domain sales. This week features Riva.com selling for 200,000 USD, Crab.com closing at 92,000 USD, and Casas.net reaching 87,000 EUR. But there’s much more after the jump!

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12|23|2008 05:20 pm EDT

The Top 100 Global Brands Still Don’t Get Online Media

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

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In writing a previous post equating user names on social media sites to domain names, it raised my curiousity what big brands were up to on Twitter.  It’s understandable in the early 1990’s, as the internet was slowly emerging, brand managers and/or executives couldn’t see the potential for a brand like McDonalds to be on the internet.  Could you imagine a global brand not owning their .com today?

So do these brands stay ahead of the curve now?  The answer is No, not really. DNN took the Top 100 global brands from Business Week and checked Twitter to see which companies were actively using the 2 year old micro-blogging service to further their brand.  The results are indeed similar to the early days of domains, most brands don’t get it.  The chart follows after the jump. (more…)

12|22|2008 11:25 am EDT

Social Media User Names Becoming More Like Domain Names

by Adam Strong in Categories: Miscellaneous

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In the spring of 2007, Steve Poland wrote the article “Twitter Usernames Are Like Domains in 1995″. As the popularity of the microblogging service grows, more and more evidence of the similarities seem to be recognizable.  Poland points out

Twitter usernames are one-of-a-kind — and I kind of feel like this is 1995 and someone just told me, “Hey, you know, domains are one-of-a-kind — they’re going to worth money someday; people will be selling them to each other. In particular, the generic domains are going to be worth a lot.”

Twitter has been around since the spring of 2006 and has been growing in popularity.  It didn’t take long for the increase in popularity to create the  bi-product of value associated with user names.   However, as the demand for a unique identifier (user name) that is simple or targeted increases, so do the problems and complications.   Generic user names have been quickly reserved, but many trademarked terms have also been reserved.  Sound familiar ? (more…)