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IANA transition will not remove government relationship with .com contract

June 30, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on IANA transition will not remove government relationship with .com contract

Department of Commerce will still have a say over .com prices.

Today, ICANN posted proposed contracts with Verisign (NYSE:VRSN) for the Root Zone Management Agreement (RZMA) and an extension of the .com registry contract.

The RZMA is a necessary step for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to step out of its role in the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) contract.

The RZMA will transfer some of Verisign’s role that’s currently part of the government’s Verisign Cooperative Agreement to an agreement between Verisign and ICANN.

However, the Verisign Cooperative Agreement will live on post-transition.

Crucially, this means the Department of Commerce will still be a party to .com contracts going forward.

Why is this important? It was the Department of Commerce that stepped in to keep a lid on prices the last time the .com contract was extended.

ICANN had approved increases that could have meant paying $10.29 wholesale for a .com this year, rather than the $7.85 you currently pay. Department of Commerce mandated that prices remain flat.

It’s important to note that the proposed extension of the .com contract published today is separate from contractual negotiations over price.



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Vape Magazine nailed for reverse domain name hijacking

June 30, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Vape Magazine nailed for reverse domain name hijacking

Company filed UDRP for domain name that was registered before it existed.

Starpixel Marketing LLC dba Vape Magazine has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking for the domain name VapeMagazine.com.

VapeMagazine.com was registered in 2011. The complainant founded Vape Magazine about a year later and launched a site at vapenewsmagazine.com. It tried to buy VapeMagazine.com in 2014 but was rebuffed.

The panel noted:

Complainant knew that Respondent registered the disputed domain name well before Complainant began its business, and nearly two and a half years before it began using VAPE MAGAZINE in commerce. The Panel finds that it was bad faith Reverse Domain Name Hijacking to allege bad faith registration under these circumstances, especially given Complainant’s tenuous claim of rights under paragraph 4(a)(i) of the Policy.

Indeed, this case shouldn’t have been filed. It was dead on arrival.

Vape Magazine was represented by The Ingber Law Firm. The respondent was represented by Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP.



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.Com contract extension shorter than Verisign expected

June 30, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on .Com contract extension shorter than Verisign expected

Extension will add six years to existing agreement.

ICANN has published a proposed extension to its contract with Verisign (NYSE:VRSN) for .com.

While the existing contract doesn’t expire until 2018, the parties are extending the agreement so that its end date matches that of the new Root Zone Management Agreement. The Root Zone Management Agreement (RZMA) is necessary due to the planned removal of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration role in the IANA contract.

The extension runs through 2024.

Verisign CEO Jim Bidzos explained on a conference call earlier this year that the company expected the RZMA to be for ten years, and thus the .com agreement would be extended to match that. Instead, the RZMA is for eight years, triggering a six-year extension of the .com contract (which was due to renew in 2018).

Practically speaking, this extension doesn’t change much. Verisign still has a presumptive right of renewal in the contract. The extension also doesn’t affect .com pricing. Pricing is handled in a different part of the cooperative agreement with the U.S. government.



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17 end user domain name sales up to $30,000

June 29, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on 17 end user domain name sales up to $30,000

These businesses bought domain names on Sedo last week.

Sedo handled about 468 domain name transactions last week for a total of about $1 million in sales. While a number of domain names are still in escrow, I discovered 17 that appear to be sales to end users.

These include a couple brand owners that bought .cn domains to match their .coms, an online survey company that got a good deal on ExpressYourself.com, and a real estate company that chopped the “llc” off its domain name.

Here are 17 end user domain name purchases from the past week that I identified:

(You can view previous lists like this here. If you’d like to learn how to sell your domain names like these on Sedo, download this report.)

Serres.com $30,000 – Intellectual Property firm Kolster. I believe it’s for the surgical products company Serres, which owns Serres.fi and Serres.us.

Cars.pt €20,000 – Jobs.bg keeps buying Cars.cctld names

Swarming.com $18,000 – the domain is still in escrow, but this price suggests it’s an end user.

Wishlist.net $15,000 – it’s registered to a software company called Digital Intelligence BV and resolves to a page that says “soon…”

CFEnergy.com $5,870 – Chang Feng Energy, which uses the domain ChangFengEnergy.cn

ThreeForMe.com $5,000 – Cynosure sells “body contouring” equipment. It previously purchased GoodbyeFat.com for $4,100 and Cynosure.net for $3,388. I’m not sure what it will do with this domain.

ExpressYourself.com $4,999 – ePoll pays people to take surveys, and its tagline is “Express Yourself!”. It got a great deal on this domain.

EvoPrint.com €3,900 – BCT is a printing company based in Florida.

LM-Tech.com $3,880 – The buyer, Lorenzo Mercolini, works for Sotheby’s. Maybe he also has a tech company or consulting firm.

EatonRealty.com $3,500 – Eaton Realty, which sells ranches, uses the domain name eatonrealtyllc.com.

AccomplishMore.com $3,499 – United Data Technologies is a B2B technology company.

JXN.co.uk €3,000 – The buyer’s last name is Jackson, so I think this is shorthand for his name.

SpainFashion.com $2,500 – ICEX appears to be an export and investment firm in Spain.

Aquasis.com $3,000 – Aquasis resort and spa in Didim, Turkey.

Outfit7.cn $2,800 – Purchased by the owner of Outfit7.com.

SkipHop.cn $2,500 – CSC bought this domain for the baby products company Skip*Hop.

Ananda.in $2,500 – Ananda Dairy Foods in India.



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Company guilty of reverse domain hijacking after refiling case

June 29, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Company guilty of reverse domain hijacking after refiling case

Domain owner forced to defend himself twice despite unchanged facts.

grow-it-allA company that sells an organic fertilizer has been found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking after filing a UDRP for the second time.

GBI Prosperities Pty Ltd. and Dr Grow It All Sales Pty Ltd. filed the UDRP against the owner of doctorgrowitall.com and drgrowitall.com. The domains are registered by a former business associate.

One of the complainant’s principals, Danny Hood, filed a UDRP over DrGrowItAll.com in 2013. He represented himself, and the panelist in that case noted that Hood really phoned it in. The panelist said the complaint “barely” met the qualifications of a UDRP filing.

The complainants said there were a few reasons it should be able to refile the case. One is that the second domain was added. Another is that it wasn’t represented by counsel the first time and that its initial case was so poorly presented it should have been rejected as an invalid case. The third is that the complainants are different because the first time it was an individual and now it’s a company.

The facts of the case did not change between the two filings.

Panelist Warwick A. Rothnie noted that the respondent had to defend himself twice thanks to the refiled complaint, and found the complainant to have filed the dispute in bad faith.

This case might make for a new type of RDNH category at RDNH.com — refiling cases.



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Strickling responds to Marco Rubio et al about IANA transition

June 29, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Strickling responds to Marco Rubio et al about IANA transition

A well-reasoned response to a poorly reasoned concern.

NTIA Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling has responded to Senator Marco Rubio and four other members of Congress who questioned plans to remove the U.S. government’s direct role in the IANA functions.

Strickling explains why the fears are unfounded, and how the new structure actually reduces the ability of governments to interfere with international internet policy. He also explains how the governance features can’t feasibly be stress tested. You can read the letter here (pdf).

It appears as a throwaway line, but I think when Strickly wrote “I understand your concerns about change,” he’s taking a bit of a punch at Rubio. He’s suggesting Rubio et al. are engaging in a bit of FUD about the transition.

Indeed, change can be scary. But politicians don’t want to be told they can’t embrace change.

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz is taking it to another level with a video that is full of falsehoods.



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Lawyer fell for DomainGang story about eNom Backpack Girl

June 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Lawyer fell for DomainGang story about eNom Backpack Girl

More UDRP hilarity.

Backpack GirlYesterday, I wrote about how an Australian company argued in a UDRP that the famous Backpack Girl was planted by the owner of Patricks.com because the complainant’s (a company called Patricks) CEO looked like Backpack Girl.

It was hilarious.

It gets even funnier.

Once the respondent’s attorney John Berryhill explained in the response that this stock photo was the default on hundreds of thousands (millions?) of parked pages, the complainant’s lawyer Jason R. Buratti wouldn’t let it go.

Instead, he did some research and made a stunning find: that the blonde Backpack Girl that looks a lot like Patricks CEO had been retired on parked pages at the time in question. So the respondent must have been targeting Patricks’ CEO!

Why did Buratti think this? He came across a satirical article on DomainGang saying that the original Backpack Girl was being replaced with a Hispanic woman.

In a supplemental filing (that wasn’t considered by the panel), Buratti wrote:

For all its history, the Response failed to inform us that “backpack girl” was decommissioned in 2012, when the “typically Hispanic” look of Jaunita Rodriguez (depicted in the margin) replaced Ms. Stellar. ((reference to DomainGang joke article omitted)). Surely, “backpack girl” Ms. Rodriguez does not look like Aimee; “backpack girl” Ms. Stellar does. See Complaint at 7 (showing Aimee’s 2012 picture). The disputed domain continued to display “backpack girl” Ms. Stellar but not Ms. Rodriguez (see, e.g., Annex 22 from July 5, 2013) – a domain Respondent does not even argue (nevermind prove) was actually parked during this time and did not select this image of Ms. Stellar (though his lawyer argues it is parked today). Once again, only one inference is supported by the facts: Respondent controlled the domain in around and after 2012, published Aimee’s likeness there, and targeted Complainant.

Oh man, we’ve got ourselves a Domain Dunce award winner here for sure.

You can get more details in a comment from Berryhill here.



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Cybersquatting complaints against .com domains are dropping

June 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on Cybersquatting complaints against .com domains are dropping

Here’s a story you’ve not heard told: For many years, the number of UDRPs aimed at .COM domains has been declining.

Does that come as a surprise? We hear about high-profile UDRPs all the time, and the newsworthy cases usually involve some valuable domain name that has been put in jeopardy. Since .COM tends to be the most sought-after suffix worldwide as well as the TLD registered in the greatest volume, it naturally ends up in the spotlight.

What we, as domain investors, remember most keenly are the egregious UDRP filings – when complainants abuse the process, attempting to confiscate some domain already purchased in good faith by someone else. In reality, though, most UDRPs address run-of-the-mill instances of cybersquatting, where bad faith on the part of the domain owner is too obvious and boring to merit reporting.

.COM registrations are at an all-time high. Yet the fact remains: Overall, .COM domains feature in UDRPs less and less. That wasn’t the headline of WIPO’s March article. Instead, their press release bore the provocative title, “Cybersquatting Cases Up in 2015, Driven by New gTLDs”.

WIPO – for those just joining the party – stands for the World Intellectual Property Organization. They’re a forum where UDRP complaints are filed and adjudicated. During 2015, WIPO processed 2,754 cases. For that same year, I count 1,437 UDRPs handled by the National Arbitration Forum (NAF), another major venue. All such forums are sustained by filing fees; so arguably there’s an incentive to drum up business (in the form of future complaints) by exaggerating the scale of cybersquatting. That’s my cynicism talking. Really, forums such as WIPO and NAF are necessary to safeguard both trademark holders and online consumers in general.

In fact, WIPO’s headline is entirely correct. Yes, it’s true that their 2015 case load rose by 4.6% compared to the previous year. It’s also true that nTLDs account for much or all of that increase. However, every data set implies multiple stories. The most flattering story can be unduly emphasized. For instance, it’s worth noting that the total number of domains registered worldwide grew by 5.2% last year. Normalized against that rate of growth, WIPO’s case load merely kept pace. Actually, the volume of cases handled by WIPO has fallen 4.5% from its 2012 peak. One UDRP panelist and litigator, publishing his own analysis of WIPO statistics last week for an audience of IP lawyers, even acknowledged the downturn. As he puts it:

[T]he number of domain names at issue in UDRP complaints per million eligible domain name registrations fell from 19.5 in 2014 to 14.5 in 2015.

Even while granting that the UDRP is less and less used by brand owners, the editor urges those same “brand owners … to make their voice heard as ICANN conducts a review of rights protection mechanisms” – presumably to bolster the UDRP in its growing obsolescence and defend the policy from those of us in the domain industry who’d like to see it revised and reformed.

I began looking into UDRP trends earlier this Spring. Here’s what caught my attention: During 2015, cases at WIPO involved 2,732 .COM domains. That’s the lowest total since 2007. Between 2008 and 2014, WIPO had always processed 3,153 – 3,795 .COMs annually. Based on a 7-year average of 3358, last year saw a decline of 18.6%.

After seeing this, I still wasn’t convinced. Have UDRP filings against .COM domains really been slowing down? There are a few complicating factors, which need evaluation:

  • nTLDs entered general availability in 2014. Naturally, we’d expect .COM percentages to be diluted at UDRP forums once new suffixes were added to the mix. So, if .COM really is implicated in fewer UDRPs, we’d need to see a trend beginning well before 2014. To be absolutely sure, we’d need to see a decline in absolute numbers, not just percentages.
  • Another complaint mechanism, the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension), was introduced specifically for new TLDs and cannot be brought to bear on .COM. (The UDRP applies to both.) Therefore we must be careful to exclude URS cases, since they might exaggerate the proportion of nTLD complaints while minimizing .COM’s apparent role.
  • Counting domains themselves is a bad idea. Some UDRPs are filed against dozens or hundreds of domains at once. Should a single case involving 1000 domains be weighted equally with 1000 separate single-domain cases? Certainly not! Statistics could be hopelessly skewed due to a single cybersquatter registering boatloads of .XYZ domains at 1 penny apiece … or .SCIENCE or .TK absolutely free. We ought to be counting all complaints equally. The real question is how many UDRP cases are filed against domains that include a particular TLD.
  • Looking at WIPO alone is insufficient. Other forums exist. Theoretically, we’d see a decline in WIPO numbers if lawyers were filing more UDRPs elsewhere – perhaps “forum shopping” in order to find more favorable panelists or taking advantage of lower costs or better scheduling. In this scenario, a decline at WIPO might show up as an increase elsewhere. That possibility must be ruled out before drawing any conclusions about broad UDRP trends.

So I decided to examine NAF, the other major forum for UDRP filings. Whereas WIPO provides ready-made bird’s-eye-view statistics, the NAF website does no such thing. In order to analyze trends at NAF, I built a database and compiled information on 23,607 cases spanning 16 years and involving 47,861 domains. Fixing NAF’s errors and formatting inconsistencies alone took me days. After all that tedium, I fully expect to go to heaven when I die.

Here’s what I found.

Just like WIPO, NAF is seeing a record low in the number of .COM domains at issue. During 2014 and 2015, NAF UDRP cases included only 2,261 and 2,419 .COMs, respectively. Again, those totals are lower than any year since 2007. Between 2008 and 2013, NAF had always processed 3,108 – 4,042 .COMs annually. Based on a 6-year average of 3434, that’s a decline of 34.2% (2014) or 29.6% (2015). Remember, when measured against the same period, 2015 at WIPO saw a decline in .COM domains of 18.6%. As it turns out, the ebb tide at NAF is even more pronounced.

As I mentioned above, it’s crucial to count cases themselves, not domains. So how many UDRP cases at NAF involved at least 1 .COM? The answer is striking – an average decrease of 7.9% every year since 2010. NAF went from 1714 cases … to 1558 … 1521 … 1385 … 1235 … to 1135 last year. Extrapolating from data during the first third of 2016 I can also say this: If present trends continue, this year will see less than 1000 NAF UDRPs involving .COM domains.

Let’s take stock of this situation. Between 2010 and 2015, the number of UDRPs at NAF involving .COM domains declined by 33.8%. Yet the number of registered .COM domains grew by about 39.8% during that same period. (My estimate is based on the growth in the combined .COM / .NET base, going from 96.7 million early in 2010 to 135.2 million at the end of 2015.) When the number of UDRPs involving .COM is normalized relative to the number of .COMs in existence at the time, it turns out that NAF UDRPs against .COM domains in 2015 were less than half as likely – only 47.4% as frequent – as they had been in 2010.

The same trend is evident in other legacy gTLDs – “Not COMs” like .NET, .ORG, .INFO, and .BIZ. Since 2011, NAF has witnessed steady decline here too – from 433 cases … to 386 … 270 … 221 … to 227 last year. That’s an average annual decrement of 14.9%. So the reduction in complaints against legacy “Not COMs” is almost twice as fast as with .COM. Extrapolating based on NAF UDRPs filed so far in 2016, cases against such TLDs this year will total just 172.

Those are the numbers, folks. The trend is quite clear. UDRP complaints against .COM domains (as well as other legacy gTLDs) have been declining, it seems, for the past 6 years. This slowdown is too rapid and too consistent over time to be chalked up to mere chance. The trend is manifest at both the biggest UDRP forums. It’s measurable in absolute terms (not ratios tied to other TLDs). And the decline predates the nTLD program by 3 years.

Let me summarize:

Were it not for nTLDs, both WIPO and NAF would have returned to pre-2008 levels in the total number of domains they handled last year; and NAF’s UDRP case load would have reverted to pre-2006 levels during both 2014 and 2015.

So, yes, WIPO’s expedient headline, “Cybersquatting Cases Up in 2015” is true … but hardly the whole truth. 4.6% growth in the number of UDRPs almost kept pace with 5.2% growth in the name space. Unfortunately for consumers – but fortunately for domain arbitration forums – the number of UDRP and URS cases involving nTLDs is on the rise. Indeed, nTLDs have made up the shortfall in WIPO’s numbers almost exactly. Turns out, that second phrase in WIPO’s headline – “driven by new gTLDs” – is very true indeed!



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How to manage your feeds on Domaining.com

June 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on How to manage your feeds on Domaining.com

Customize Domaining.com for a better experience.

Ever since Google took away the best RSS reader, I’ve started to rely more on Domaining.com to see what other bloggers are writing about.

And, although not everyone is aware of this, you can customize Domaining.com kind of like an RSS reader so that it only shows blogs that interest you.

I bring this up now because I’ve seen some complaints about the “Reporter” posts in Domaining.com. These are sometimes not related to domains. If you don’t like them, you can remove them.

You’ll need to log in to manage your feeds. Once you do that, click on “Feeds” at the top:

domaining-feeds

You can then uncheck the box next to feeds you don’t want to display:

domaining-reporter

It even shows how many people have blocked certain feeds. Of course, you wouldn’t dare block Domain Name Wire, would you? I need to hunt down the 17 people who have 🙂



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FFM launches .Stream domain this week, and you can get them cheap

June 28, 2016Domaining, DomainnamewireComments Off on FFM launches .Stream domain this week, and you can get them cheap

.Stream is inexpensive if you know where to look.

Famous Four Media is launching the .stream top level domain name on Wednesday.

The company makes it a practice of offering domain names cheap for the first year. And indeed, 101Domain is charging only $1.32 for first year registrations.

Interestingly, I’m not finding similar prices at other registrars. Even AlpNames, with has a strong connection to Famous Four Media is asking $25.99 at this point, although I expect it to drop prices later.

GoDaddy shows regular pricing of $39.99, although you can get them for about $10 with the Domain Discount Club.

Famous Four Media’s low-cost (and sometimes free) pricing strategy has helped it land 6 top level domains within the top 20 on nTLDStats: .win, .bid, .science, .loan, .party and .date.



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