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09|20|2008 01:35 am EDT

TMFor.com Domain Forum Subpoenaed to Reveal all User Information [Updated]

by Frank Michlick in Categories: Legal Issues

As reported earlier, Verizon sued Navigation Catalyst and the Basic Fusion registrar for cybersquatting. As part of this lawsuit, it has been reported elsewhere that the domain forum TMFor.com has been subpoenaed by Verizon’s lawyers. The items subpoenaed include identifying information for each and every user of the forum.

According to DomainNews, the article goes on to say that TMFor denies any connection to Navigation Catalyst and Basic Fusion and has hired an attorney.  The article states that the forum was moved to BonkersTwo.com, however that domain now redirects to TMFor.com. Read more after the jump.

The forum employed some measures that may have protected it’s members, such as automatically deleting all threads that were inactive for more than 30 days, but it is unknown if it employed other methods to protect it’s user database, personal information and post contents.

The private forum states that the “TM” in TMFor.com stands for Traffic Monetization, but unconfirmed rumors and other comments indicate that much of the discussion at TMFor has circled around buying, selling and monetizing domain names that could be considered trademark infringements.  The FAQ on the site states “#3 No hypocrisy. If you are claim that names trademarked by others are not legit business, then we will not accept you into this club.

[Update]: There’s also a thread about this topic on DomainState, which includes a statement by a member called “TMFor.com”. The full statement reads:

Subject of this thread is misleading (if I put it mildly)

  1. Verizon did NOT “shut down” anything
  2. Verizon have NOT seized anything

Here is what happened:
Thursday 11.9. midnight EDT the Pair.com account received notice about subpoena. Forum has been deleted immediately, voluntarily, because there is imho a healthy chance Pair.com does not have a backup (Subpoena does not mean they have to make a timestamp backup, imho) and moved to a safer location.

Lawyer has been hired to make a motion to quash the Subpoena, because it does not make any sense as TMfor is not connected in any way with Navcat/Basic fusion. Also we are curious how they are reasoning it – is not like everyone can subpoena everyone, there must be grounds for it and we have no clue what the grounds might be.

I personally would not mind if they would get the data – they would have to go through 3GB of rubbish data, forum full of hogwash, is not like there has been disccussed some ultra-secret conspiracies, no. The forum was difficult to get in because all members was smart, like-minded individuals, that’s all. No conspiracy here. So I would like them to spend $xx~$xxxK on analysis which brings them nothing.

But some US members do not like their identities to be disclosed simply because Verizon lawyers are madmen and there could follow some witchhunt against them.

There is another reason I would like them to get the data they are asking: this account which Verizon required the data from is shared by several Chinese companies and they could sue Verizon in China (and likely win). Verizon have some assets in China to take, so that would be some easy money to make.

If the Verizon subpoena reveals the inner workings of trademark infringing domainers, this could lead to more lawsuits naming multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants.  TMFor.com whois records are set to privacy but the history shows a variety of different owners including Chen Long of Shanghai and Mario Surio Martinez Juarez Ferdinando of Shanghai.

Navigation Catalyst Systems was born out of the experience gathered by new.net’s alternative root offering. The company offered Registry Wildcard services displaying advertising on any un-registered domain and branded domain parking services as well as other solutions for ISPs and registrars. It is assumed that their largely automated domain tasting operation ran through the Basic Fusion registrar, using the DNS lookup data gained by their other services in order to identify unregistered domains that were attracting type-in (and typo) traffic. It is unclear whether they were a participant at this forum.

Navigation Catalyst was originally part of The Vendare Group/Vendare Media which has since been renamed to Connexus Corp.

[via DomainNews]

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1 Comment

ItsAboutTime

September 20, 2008 @ 7:52 pm EDT

I have seen posts about this forum before on Namepros. It was made very clear that the forum was about and for people into monetizing, buying and trading TM names. Whatever they claim today is not what they were claiming then.

I am absolutely no big fan of Verizon and their over-reaching, also not a fan of their hypocrisy in terms of “squatting” non-resolving TM typos within their own network. However, seeing TMFor gone would be a good thing for those of us in the domain business who are tired of seeing the legitimate business of buying/trading/developing generic names constantly overshadowed by articles on TM squatting.

Good Riddance.

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