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The Internet of Things – DNW Podcast #129

March 27, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on The Internet of Things – DNW Podcast #129

How will the Internet of Things impact domain names?

dnw-podcastThis week I talk with my wife and Internet of Things expert Stacey Higginbotham about what the Internet of Things is and what it may mean for domain names. She also discusses her perspective on domain names as a technology journalist. Also: Tucows, people moves and a big new top level domain sale.

Subscribe via iTunes to listen to the Domain Name Wire podcast on your iPhone or iPad, view on Google Play Music, or click play below or download to begin listening. (Listen to previous podcasts here.)



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From the fake news department with a domain name angle

March 24, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on From the fake news department with a domain name angle

Story claimed Trump sent a cease & desist letter about a domain name, but the domain wasn’t even registered.

Earlier this week, Observer.com published an article about the poor fate of a teenager who registered the domain name TrumpScratch.com.

The article said that Donald Trump’s team of lawyers sent the girl a cease & desist letter over the domain name, so she had to change the name to KittenFeed.com.

While I’m sure that Observer.com was stoked to get this story, they overlooked a small issue: TrumpScratch.com wasn’t registered when it ran the article on March 21. So the story doesn’t add up.

Imagine the surprise of whoever decided to look that up and found the domain name was actually available as the story went viral. They registered the domain name and forwarded it to porn.

Snopes has a good rundown of this story, which went viral, and how the facts don’t check out. My guess is some firm decided to rickroll the media.



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Two Tucows execs are leaving

March 24, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Two Tucows execs are leaving

CFO and CIO announced their resignations this month.

Two Tucows executives have recently notified the company that they are leaving.

Last week, Chief Financial Officer Michael Cooperman announced that he was retiring after 18 years with the company. He will remain an advisor to the company when he leaves April 1. Dave Singh, current Vice President of Finance at the company, will take over for Cooperman.

This morning, Tucows issued an 8-K announcing that Kenneth Schafer, Chief Information Officer, is also stepping down effective today to pursue another opportunity.

Meanwhile, shares in Tucows (NASDAQ:TCX) have been on an absolute tear. Shares closed yesterday at $50.10, up 40% on their opening price at the beginning of the year.

Tucows owns domain reseller platforms OpenSRS and eNom, as well as retail registrar Hover. It also provides mobile phone and broadband services through its Ting brand.



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New TLDs aren’t dead, but some business models won’t work

March 23, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on New TLDs aren’t dead, but some business models won’t work

New TLDs are here to stay. That doesn’t mean they’ll make money the way they’re being operated right now.

“New top level domain names are dead! New top level domain names are dead!”

That’s been the common chorus from commenters on domain name blogs over the past couple weeks since news broke that Frank Schilling was jacking up the prices on many of his top level domains.

At the time, I asked if it was a death spiral. Upon further reflection, I think Frank’s move was a capitulation. I think he miscalculated the effects of this change, but he also faced the facts about many new top level domain name business models.

The reality is that most strings will be niche players happy to have 5,000 strings for many years.

I think this has been evident for the last year (or even two?). This is why I was so surprised at the money some new TLD operators were throwing at domain names in new TLD auctions.

How can you justify paying $5 million for a domain when the market has already told you that similar domains have about 5,000-10,000 potential registrations that make sense?

Some new TLD operators looked at it as funny money. If they were paid millions for losing other auctions, why not apply the winnings to another auction?

This doesn’t make business sense. Each individual TLD should be looked at as a business investment. What business says “Let’s waste $10 million on a business line that will never return that cash because another business just returned $10 million in easy profit?”

Another odd response has been “we spent so much because we’re in it for the long haul”.

That’s great, but what exactly is the long hual? If you expect a payback period of twenty years, why would you make the investment?

I’ve also seen lots of examples of new TLD companies thinking they were different. Only they had figured out the right string. The right business model.

They were wrong.

New TLD operators are going to have to face the reality of the market. Some are still keeping ridiculous premiums on their domain names because they think the domains will be worth that much someday. When is that day? Are they comfortable not selling domains until that day? In many cases, registries should give away domains they’ve priced at a premium to someone who will develop them.

I think the premiums are like lottery tickets to some registries. Every once in a while they have the matching numbers and someone pays $50k or $100k for a name. That makes up for a lot of $10 registrations. So maybe it’s the best model in this environment.

Still, whenever I see a “matching” .com sell for a fraction of the annual renewal price of a new TLD, I scratch my head.

Now, does all of this mean new TLDs are dead? No. But there’s a reality that registries need to accept.

Most of the strings out there have a total addressable market of about 5,000-10,000 names. They need to adjust the cost structure accordingly.

I’ll give an example. Earlier this week I saw a van with Tree.house on it.

That’s a good domain. It’s an intuitive domain. It works perfectly for .house.

But how many other domains work well with .house? And, in how many cases is a reasonably good .com not a better alternative for the .house domain?

.House currently has 15,000 registrations with 40% at GoDaddy. That’s pretty healthy.

Every once in a while you’ll see a domain take off when it’s adopted by a particular industry. But that’s a rarity.

It’s a simple supply and demand issue. The domain industry can try to stimulate demand by recommending forwarding domains and new uses for domains. The effect will be marginal and it costs a lot of money to do this.

I also want to address another issue.

I don’t personally cheer when businesses fail or hit hard times. I’ve had my share of failed businesses, both as an operator and an investor. It sucks.

The majority of internet businesses fail. It’s really hard on the people that put their sweat and money into the venture.

I think some of the visceral reaction in the domain business has been because of new TLD operators “putting down” .com in their marketing. If you’re heavily invested in .com domain names then you might look at this marketing as an attack on your assets and your business. So when you see the people that you viewed as dissing your own business fail or struggle at their own, it could be a good feeling.

Still, some people take it too far. I’m shocked when someone cheers that a company had to lay off a lot of employees because of a strategy failure. Like those employees were evil people? Most were just trying to support their families.

As for the future, I predict a growing number of domains under new TLDs being put to use. There’s no way but up. The question is how quickly this number grows. Right now, it doesn’t seem to be very fast. As a result, you’ll see a lot of smaller registries gobbled up by the companies that can spread costs across many strings.



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Two domain name industry people make moves

March 23, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Two domain name industry people make moves

Epik and MMX make key hires.

Two familiar faces in the domain name industry have new homes.

Joseph Peterson, who also writes for Domain Name Wire, was hired as Director of Operations at Epik. Joseph is one of the most analytical people I know. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about him over the several years he’s written for this site, it’s that he doesn’t accept anything less than the best He’s incredibly thorough. I guess that comes from being a former submarine officer in the U.S. Navy!

Fortunately, Joseph will still be able to write his great data-driven pieces for this site.

The other hire is MMX (formerly known as Minds + Machines) picking up Victor Pitts as Director of Premium Sales. Victor has been in the industry for longer than I can count. He cut his teeth at Moniker and worked for Above.com. He will be responsible for selling premium domain names across MMX’s new top level domain name portfolio. His deep industry connections, as well as his experience outside the domain industry, seem like a good fit.

Congratulations to Joseph, Victor, Epik and MMX.



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Casino.online sells for $201,250

March 23, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Casino.online sells for $201,250

Domain under the new top level domain name .online sells for big bucks.

Here’s a new top level domain name sale that jumps out at you: Casino.online has sold at Sedo for $201,250!

The domain name crossed Sedo’s RSS feed yesterday.

As of right now, the domain name resolves to a SafeNames registrar holding page. The Whois record uses SafeName’s whois privacy service.

But at this price, you can expect the domain name to be put to use soon.

What lucky domainer cashed in on this sale? None. As you might imagine, Casino.online was one of the registry’s reserved domain names for this string.



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Lawsuit filed to overturn OpenTime.com UDRP

March 22, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Lawsuit filed to overturn OpenTime.com UDRP

Domain owner shot himself in the foot in UDRP response, so he’s asking a court to let him keep the domain name.

The owner of OpenTime.com, who lost the domain name in a UDRP decision last month, has filed a lawsuit (pdf) to try to retain ownership of the domain name.

If you look at the facts, it may seem surprising that the panel ordered the domain name transferred. After all, registrant Kevin Burns has a trademark in Japan for “Open Time”. The term is also descriptive.

But it seems that Burns or his attorney really upset the panelist by making false or questionable statements, and this played against Burns. For example, the initial response stated that Burns owned the domain since 2000.

That’s not true. A simple check of DomainTools shows that this domain was part of the UltSearch portfolio acquired by Marchex and then GoDaddy. It turns out Burns bought the domain through Afternic in the middle of 2016. After being called out, Burns said that something in Afternic’s membership agreement made him the “owner” since the domain was originally registered in 2000. The panelist didn’t buy that.

Burns was represented by Steven Rinehart. This isn’t the first time a respondent represented by Rinehart has obfuscated the ownership date, and both times it has backfired.

The panel also called into question other documents Burns submitted.

So now Burns is defending the domain name in Arizona court, asking for declaratory relief. He may well get it, but I’d suggest being careful what he submits to the court.



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This .yachts domain shouldn’t have been lost in a UDRP, but…

March 22, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on This .yachts domain shouldn’t have been lost in a UDRP, but…

The domain name owner had a great defense but didn’t reply to the filing.

A World Intellectual Property Organization panelist has ordered the domain name virgin.yachts be transferred to Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Enterprises.

I did a doubletake when I saw this decision. In order to register a .yachts domain name, you have to be affiliated with a company in the industry.

Indeed, the domain name virgin.yachts is registered in the name of a company called Virgin Yachts that’s set up in Florida. Just looking at the whois record you can see that the owner of virgin.yachts owns virginyachtsllc.com, which forwards to virgin-yachts.com.

In other words, the respondent has a legitimate interest in the domain name and probably didn’t register it in bad faith.

There may well be a legitimate trademark dispute, but it falls outside the realm of UDRP.

However, the owner didn’t respond to the UDRP. I think it should have been obvious to both the complainant and perhaps the panelist, but without the response, whatever the complainant said was accepted by the panelist. The complainant obviously didn’t point out these facts.



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14 end user domain name sales including Enterprise

March 22, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on 14 end user domain name sales including Enterprise

Here are 14 domain names purchased by end users over the past week.

This week’s top reported sale at Sedo was Caps.co.uk, a domain name that rental car company Enterprise bought. Why? It’s an acronym, so read on to learn more.

Other end user sales include a .casino domain, .co, .com.mx and .ca. Buyers include a chocolate store chain, a currency trading company and a construction firm that recently merged.

Here’s a list of end user sales at Sedo over the past week:

(You can view previous lists like this here.)

Caps.co.uk £15,000 – Enterprise Holdings, the car rental company, bought this domain that’s short for “Common Automotive Platform Standard”. It forwards to CapsConsortium.com.

GKBank.com €12,000 – GKFX is a financial trading company.

VideoSlots.casino $7,500 – Panda Media Ltd owns VideoSlots.com.

Pinnacle.co €6,999 – The Whois record is private, but it is forwarding to sports betting site Pinnacle.com.

Piax.com €5,000 – mobileBlox GmbH offers a mobile CRM system called Piax.

CacauShow.com $4,999 – CacauShow is a chocolate store with over 2,000 locations.

Grow-More.com $2,850 – Grow More is an agriculture company that uses GrowMore.com.

WeTransferIt.com $2,588 – WeTransferit LTD is a UK company that was just formed last month. It hasn’t activated a website yet.

LaFargeHolcim.ca $2,500 – Construction firm Holcim merged with LaFarge in 2015.

Meva.net $2,500 – Meva is a German “formwork” manufacturer. It uses the domain name Meva.de.

LuggageFreeTravel.com $2,315 – Need it Now is a delivery service in New York. I imagine this is for a service in which they bring your luggage to you.

Lumior.com $2,250 – AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories. Ltd sells cosmetics.

Bubsy.com $2,200 – If you like retro video games, you’ll like some of the stuff Tommo makes. As for what this domain is for, I’m not sure.

Shortel.com.mx $2,000 – Shoretel is a communications company that uses Shoretel.com.



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4 letter .com saved in UDRP but no reverse domain name hijacking

March 21, 2017Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on 4 letter .com saved in UDRP but no reverse domain name hijacking

Complaint was dead-on-arrival because domain was registered before business started.

Domain name attorney John Berryhill has successfully defended the domain name QWIC.com in a UDRP brought by an electronic bike maker.

The case was filed by the maker of Qwic bikes in the Netherlands. It uses the domain name QWIC.nl.

The complaint was dead on arrival as it seems that the domain registrant registered the domain name before the bike maker started its business.

Panelist Alistair Payne addressed this issue, writing:

The basic premise underlying the Policy, subject to a showing of bona fide pre-existing trade mark rights, is “first come-first served”. In this case and based on evidence on the record, the Respondent was clearly first in time. The Panel notes that the Complainant subsequently had its agents make an international trade mark application based on the Benelux application and also obtained the domain names qwic.nl and qwicgb.com. The Panel finds it difficult to believe that the Complainant was not made aware by its trade mark agents in 2006 or 2007 of the Respondent’s ownership for the disputed domain name.

However, Payne did not find the complaint to have been filed in abuse of the policy:

This therefore appears to be a case in which the Complainant has sought to launch a rearguard action to obtain a domain name which it most likely knew from the outset was not available. However in circumstances that the Respondent had never made an actual use of the disputed domain name and that the Complainant could not have been aware of the circumstances surrounding non-use as subsequently described by the Respondent, then a UDRP panel following the Octogen line of reasoning might in other circumstances have come to a different view. In this light it cannot be said that the Complainant had no hope at all of succeeding on its Complaint and as a result, although this is a borderline case, on balance, the Panel has decided not make a finding of reverse domain name hijacking on this occasion.

QWIC.com by DomainNameWire on Scribd



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