News and Updates

Defunct app maker hit with reverse domain name hijacking

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2018-09-05 17:38

App maker files UDRP and then shuts down its business.

The maker of a now-defunct app called Yish has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name Yish.com.

The company used various domain names including yishapp.com, yish.co, yish.app, yish.io and yish.menu. It understandably wanted Yish.com, but that domain was registered by Kevin Ham’s Vertical Axis back in 2001. Yish didn’t file for a trademark and began using the term until 2017.

You can understand why the panel found the app maker to have filed the case in bad faith. But this case is a bit odd: before the decision was reached, the app maker informed World Intellectual Property Organization that it was shutting down its business and asked the panel to terminate the case.

Knowing that it had a slam dunk case and likely reverse domain name hijacking, Vertical Axis (now called Blue Nova) objected to terminating the case. Therefore, the panel completed its review and found reverse domain name hijacking.

Blue Nova was represented by ESQwire.com.

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Categories: News and Updates

Putting the Google Chrome URL news into perspective

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2018-09-05 15:13

What impact could changes to Chrome have on domain names?

Yesterday I wrote about a WIRED story discussing the Google Chrome team’s efforts to change how it displays a site’s identity.

The reaction was pretty strong. Any threat to URLs seems like a threat to domain names.

But let’s take a step back and think more about this.

The idea is to make sure people visiting a website understand the identity of the website. Who runs it? Is it the site I intended to visit? Is it legit?

We can all agree that knowing these answers is a good thing. The question is how to convey this information, and how much of it can be conveyed in the “address bar” of a browser.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between a URL and a domain name.

I think there’s a lot of value in seeing the entire URL string of a site I visit as it tells me a lot about the page, the section of the site, the content, and sometimes how recent the content is. I can also find other info on the site by changing the URL (e.g. removing the article name to visit a category). Importantly, I can see what sort of tracking information was appended to the URL. For example, did I just click on an affiliate link? If so, should I reconsider the suggestion the site made about buying the product?

But this might not be very valuable to other people.

It can also be difficult to show an entire long URL on a mobile browser. This might explain why Google downgraded the presence of URLs in mobile search three years ago. For example, these search results have the name of the site rather than the domain:

I don’t like this at all and think it’s a security issue. Yes, I know what CBS and The New York Times is, but I’d really like to see at least the second level domain name for “Austin Select Baseball” before visiting the site. Baseball is kind of innocuous, but what if this was a site about credit cards?

The popular @swiftonsecurity account on weighed in with these thoughts:

This is an announcement seeking input on how to move URL understandability forward in the graphical interface, which is currently stupendously dangerous and indecipherable. I’d say don’t jump to conclusions about radical changes, which have been tried before and did not work. https://t.co/MJ95D0RlUM

— InfoSec Taylor Swift (@SwiftOnSecurity) September 5, 2018

Chrome isn’t changing URLs. They’re exploring “how to display identity.” Any changes will be in canary many months before actual users see it, there’s no secret change that will just appear.

— InfoSec Taylor Swift (@SwiftOnSecurity) September 5, 2018

My takeaway is this:

1. The goals that Google says it’s trying to achieve are generally good.
2. Any deemphasis of the second level domain could hurt the importance of domain names. But the answer could be an added emphasis on this domain.
3. Google will be looking for feedback, so provide it to them.

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Categories: News and Updates

Breaking: Domain name company Donuts Inc. acquired by private equity firm Abry Partners

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2018-09-05 11:00

PE snaps up company that manages nearly 240 top level domain names.

Abry Partners, a private equity firm that has completed $77 billion in transactions since it was founded in 1989, is acquiring new top level domain name company Donuts, Inc. Terms of the deal and the expected closing date were not disclosed.

Donuts operates top level domain names such as .guru, .software and .life. It is the largest new top level domain name operator in terms of the number of TLDs managed with about 240 TLDs. About 4 million second-level domains using Donuts’ top level domains are registered.

The company also owns retail domain name registrar Name.com.

Donuts has raised more than $150 million from investors since it was founded in 2010 by domain industry veterans Paul Stahura, Jonathon Nevett, Richard Tindal, and Daniel Schindler. Paul Stahura was CEO until the beginning of 2017, when he became executive chairman and Bruce Jaffe took over as CEO. Since then Tindal and Schindler have left the company.

The company was one of the savviest applicants for new top level domain names. It understood early on that contention sets would likely be settled in private auctions, helping it refill its coffers by losing auctions for the new domains. Its scale has enabled it to operate profitably despite only modest demand for new TLD registrations.

The acquisition of the majority of shares in the company does not include an additional cash infusion into the company. The deal will allow some of the early investors to exit an investment they made eight years ago.

It’s not surprising that a private equity company would be interested in a business like Donuts. Donuts is essentially a subscription business with a very predictable annual renewal rate and cash flow.

Abry Partners makes communications, media, information and business services investments. Former ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé is a partner.

This story has been edited to add additional information about Abry Partners.

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Categories: News and Updates

Namecheap hits 10 million domains under management, Q&A with CEO Richard Kirkendall

Domain Name Wire - Wed, 2018-09-05 04:01

Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall answers questions about Namecheap as it hits a big milestone.

Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall

Domain name registrar Namecheap announced that it has eclipsed the 10 million domains under management milestone. This comes after being named to the Inc 5000 with $109.1 million in revenue last year. I reached out to Namecheap CEO Richard Kirkendall to ask questions about the growth, the company’s history as a reseller and what it has planned for the future.

DNW: For a long time, you were a reseller, so it wasn’t clear just how big Namecheap was. Why did you decide to move your domains under your own registrar creds?

Kirkendall: I’ll start by saying that we’ve had our own registrar backend and our own accreditation for many years now. The sole reason we had continued to work with Enom was because of the partnership we formed with them over the years, and the extremely favorable terms they gave to us to stick around.

That being said, we were under contract with them, and once that contract ran out, we decided it was time to finally branch out on our own. Being on our own allows us to use our scale and leverage our size to work out better deals, and also to form partnerships that directly affect the value we are able to deliver to our customers.

Cutting out the middleman has also allowed us to build better technology, as well as directly affect how quickly and efficiently we serve our customers. It’s been a long time coming and we are excited by the road ahead.

What role have new TLDs played in reaching 10 million domains?

Kirkendall: The new TLDs play a role, but I wouldn’t say they are the only driver to our growth. As you’ve pointed out in some of your blog posts recently, we are one of the largest registrars when it comes to legacy TLDs such as .com and .net as well. Our growth is mainly being driven by our ever-expanding customer base, and that’s what is key here.

We have millions of customers on our platform, and that number continues to expand quickly. I would say, in terms of customers for a single domain registrar, we are the second largest retail registrar in the world. Our strategy from the get-go has always been to focus on many customers with a few domains, rather than a few customers with many domains. It is this same strategy that has allowed us to quickly scale across all TLDs – as we have a wide range of customers with different needs.

(Editor’s note: Namecheap is the 5th largest registrar for .com domains and the 2nd largest for new TLDs.)

What percentage of your revenue comes from domain names compared to other services you offer?

Kirkendall: Currently, it’s about a 60/40 split but I believe that given the size of our customer base, there is a real opportunity to really grow more on the auxiliary products side of our business. We are definitely trending this way in any case.

What is the biggest challenge for Namecheap as it scales past 10 million domains under management?

Kirkendall: The biggest challenge for us, and with our current growth trajectory, will be maintaining the current level of excellent customer support we have always provided to our customers. We are investing heavily on both the technology side, as well as in our people, so I have no doubt that both will combine to rise up to the challenges ahead to meet, and even exceed, on what we deliver now.

What does the ten million milestone mean for Namecheap, and also, you personally?

Kirkendall: First and foremost, this is an opportunity to stop and say thank you to all of our customers that have chosen our company and have stuck with us through the years, because without them, we wouldn’t exist today.

For us as a company, it really is a milestone that marks a lot of hard work and dedication from the many people on our team that have contributed directly to our success by continuously focusing on the needs of our customers.

For me personally, it’s an opportunity to reflect back, and be grateful to have been able to share this journey with such a great group of people I get to call my colleagues every day, and to be able to witness firsthand the effect our company, and the products we are able to deliver has on the way our customers are able to get online and succeed.

Do you have advice or tips for success? How did you manage to grow Namecheap to be more than just a domain registrar?

Kirkendall: I know this sounds like a clichè but it really is as simple as always putting the customer first. If you’re dedicated to your customers, and wake up every day with the intent to solve their problems, you are on a direct path to success.

At Namecheap we use domains as a gateway for our customers. We understand that the first thing people do when they get an idea, or inspiration for a business (or project), is to go and register the domain name. We use this opportunity to not only deliver the domain name, but to also present them with the other tools they will need to get online and succeed.

We’ve done a fairly decent job with this up to this point, but we are only getting started. Our ultimate goal is to be the one-stop shop that delivers everything a customer needs to easily get online, and all in one place. I believe the technology and platform we are building today will deliver on this in more innovative, seamless, and meaningful ways tomorrow. There’s more to come here and this isn’t just marketing speak, so watch this space!

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Categories: News and Updates

What Do UDRP Panels Look for in Assessing Parties' Rights to Disputed Domain Names?

Domain industry news - Wed, 2018-09-05 01:10

Panels appointed to adjudicate domain name disputes under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) have written in the region of 50,000 decisions involving over 75,000 domain names (minuscule of course when measured against the number of registered domain names). What may surprise some parties, their representatives, and counsel is that these publicly accessible decisions have fueled the emergence and development of a jurisprudence of domain names.

On many issues and factual circumstances, those for which Panels have reached consensus on the law are regarded as authority. What should not be surprising (but to some it clearly is) is that the jurisprudence is comprehensive and complex. This has fueled the rise of a domain name bar of counsel with deep knowledge of its minutiae. Parties and counsel are expected to know the law, and when they do not they are chastised. Panels look for proof of parties' contentions; if the party with the burden lacks proof it loses.

Two representative cases are The Procter & Gamble Company v. Marchex Sales, Inc, D2012-2179 (WIPO February 22, 2013) (<swash.com>. "Had the Respondent failed to respond, there is a very real risk that the Panel, relying upon the 1993 International registration and the substantial sales volumes claimed for the brand, would have found in favor of the Complainant. This Complaint fell very far short of what the Panel was entitled to expect from a Complainant of this stature” (emphasis added); and Patricks Universal Export Pty Ltd. v. David Greenblatt, D2016-0653 (WIPO June 21, 2016 (<patricks.com>) in which the Panel stated that "Professional representatives of parties in UDRP proceedings are expected to be aware of or at least familiarize themselves with the Policy and Policy precedent, and to abide by the Policy and Rules."

In a recent blog post on Domain Name Wire, Andrew Allemann reflected on the advantage of hiring a specialist lawyer for domain name disputes. The immediate stimulus for this suggestion was Geo Global Partners, LLC v. Ruby Administrator / Ruby Advertising, FA1807001797850 (Forum August 29, 2018) (<gardenique.com>), although he also reported on Pilot Fitness, LLC v. Max Wettstein / Max Wettstein Fitness, FA1808001799942 (Forum August 30, 2018) (<pilotfitness.net). Both complaints were denied; neither Complainant exhibited the expected familiarity with the Policy and Policy precedent.

Mr. Allemann suggested that the result in Geo Global could possibly have been different if Complainant had counsel knowledgeable about the evidentiary demands of the UDRP. The failure (and here I quote Mr. Allemann because he deserves credit in noticing what counsel appears to have overlooked):

The case mostly hinged on dates. The domain was registered in 1996. Geo Global Partners' attorney tried to argue common law rights but did not make arguments sufficient enough to qualify in a UDRP case. Furthermore, even the common law rights claimed were after 1996.

Here's the thing [though]: based on historical Whois records at DomainTools, it appears the current owner of the domain acquired it in late 2016 or early 2017. That changes things.

It certainly does change things! If the facts are what Mr. Allemann's research discovered Complainant lost an opportunity, but being a cautious observer and not wanting to be categorical he also notes, "Perhaps the Complainant still would have lost for other reasons." Whether that is true cannot be tested in a new UDRP proceeding because parties get only one shot to make their case.

The Geo Global Complainant was fortunate in not being sanctioned for reverse domain name hijacking, unlike Complainant in Pilot Fitness who was. Complainant in Pilot Fitness was represented by counsel, likely not a "specialist" because in the Panel's view the complaint should never have been brought since the domain name registration predated Complainant's use of the trademark in commerce. Mr. Allemann again

There's a lot of nuance to UDRP, and if you hire someone who's not an expert in cybersquatting, your results will vary. You'll also likely pay that person to research stuff that other lawyers already know.

What Geo Global and Pilot Fitness have in common, and several others under review, is a failure to understand the unusual nature of the UDRP. While a judicial complaint is intended solely to give a defendant notice of the asserted claim and the requested relief, a UDRP complaint is intended to combine notice with probative proof of complainant's contentions. In other words, a UDRP complaint is not simply a complaint but a complaint plus a motion for the equivalent of summary judgment.

Parties cannot prevail on motions for summary judgment unless they submit evidence establishing that there are no genuine issues of material fact or dispute. If there is uncertainty, or in UDRP terms, there is insufficient proof, the complaint must be dismissed. The point that needs emphasizing is that it is not good enough to allege contentions if parties or their representatives are unable to provide sufficient evidence to back them up, as in Geo Global.

This evidentiary demand is not one-sided. Defendants (or respondents) also have a burden, which is to demonstrate they either have rights or legitimate interests or complainant has insufficient proof of bad faith (either of registration or use). I have in mind such cases as Commonwealth Bank of Australia v. Registration Private, Domains By Proxy, LLC / Ravindra Patel, gbe, D2017-0807 (WIPO July 6, 2017) (<bankwest.com>. Registered in 1995) and Irving Materials, Inc. v. Black, Jeff / PartnerVision Ventures, FA1710001753342 (Forum November 7, 2017) registered in 1994). Both had significant delays in commencing proceedings. In Commonwealth Bank Respondent could possibly have presented a better case; and in Irving Materials, Respondent did not appear (in an ACPA challenge it alleges it did not receive notice and its registration was lawful).

The question is, what must a party do? In Pilot Fitness Respondent alleged and proved that it had priority of right. Except under a limited number of circumstances, trademarks acquired after the registration of corresponding domain names have no actionable claim and are sanctionable as reverse domain name hijackers.

What if a respondent who lacks priority fails to create a record of any right? Silence (either by failing to appear or failing to marshal evidence if it does) will most likely be conclusive against respondent. Several cases can be cited in which non-appearing or appearing but offering insufficient proof has resulted in respondents losing their domain names. Two Playboy cases were filed in August, D2018-1455 (<playboycenterfolds.com>, terminated) and Playboy Enterprises International, Inc. v. Alano Fernandez, E-Magine, D2018-1457 (WIPO August 21,2018) (<centerfolds.com>, default and transferred).

Combining "Playboy" with "centerfolds" is obviously infringing and Respondent (recognizing it had no chance of success and probably having an incentive not to be labeled a cybersquatter) settled the claim, but is "centerfolds" standing alone obviously infringing? Could an argument not have been made? The oldest extant registrations for CENTERFOLD alone date from November 1996, but the defaulting Respondent registered the domain name on April 25, 1995 (24 years ago!). The Panel must evidently have been persuaded that Complainant invented the term "centerfolds" or by 1995 it was already so well-known or famous as an unregistered mark and awarded it the domain name. However, since the domain name had never resolved to a website there was no direct evidence of bad faith use. So, how does a Panel get from passive holding to registration and use in bad faith?

This is a puzzling problem. While it makes sense to infer bad faith registration from bad faith use it doesn't work in reverse. If there is no proof of bad faith use (if the domain name is passively held), the complaint should be denied; at least that would seem to follow the logic. The problem was solved by the Panel in the third decided UDRP case, Telstra Corporation Limited v. Nuclear Marshmallows, D2000-0003 (WIPO February 18, 2000). The Panel explained that passive holding can be regarded as "use" when "it is not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or contemplated active use of the Domain Name by respondent that would not be illegitimate."

But, whereas TELSTRA is a well-known mark, can it truly be said that CENTERFOLD was in the same category in 1995? True, it undoubtedly had its prelapsarian aficionados but was it really "not possible to conceive of any plausible actual or completed active use"? However, the Respondent did not appear, there was no explanation for the registration, and silence spoke powerfully in Complainant's favor. The Panel in Playboy observed that

Generally speaking, a finding that a domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith requires an inference to be drawn that the respondent in question has registered and is using the disputed domain name to take advantage of its significance as a trademark owned by (usually) the complainant.

In based its inference on finding that it was "highly unlikely" that

Respondent was not aware of the Complainant's (or its predecessor in title's) adoption and use of "Centerfold" when he or it registered the disputed domain name in 1994 (assuming the Respondent was the original registrant of the disputed domain name). By that stage, the Complainant had been using and promoting the term for almost 20 years all round the world [although not as a trademark]. The Respondent has not denied the Complainant's allegations in that respect [because it defaulted in appearance].

The same can be said about "Centerfolds" here that Mr. Allermann's stated about the Geo Global decision: "Perhaps the [Respondent had it appeared] still would have lost for other reasons."

Panels draw their conclusions from the record and if the only record is that which is marshaled by complainant and respondent is silent complainant will prevail. Since it is incumbent on respondents to explain their acquisitions for domain names that incorporate well-known marks, when they do not or cannot, they will lose. However, when there is explanation, as there was in Aurelon B.V. v. AbdulBasit Makrani, D2017-1679 (WIPO October 30, 2017) (<printfactory.com>) respondents will most likely prevail:

The Complainant may have erroneously believed that the use of the Disputed Domain Name for a PPC website was an unconditionally strong argument in support of bad faith together with the fact that the Respondent acts as a domainer [but that is not the law].

In Mister Auto SAS v. Wharton Lyon & Lyon, D2018-1330 (WIPO August 3, 2018) (<mister auto.com>) the Panel held that the Complainant commenced the UDRP proceeding "out of desperation as its prior attempt to contact the Respondent went unanswered (and the webpage did not resolve — revealing no clues as to the Respondent's possible motives) but without a reasonable chance of success and as such in the circumstances constitutes an abuse of the Administrative Proceeding." Although Respondent defaulted, the record included the Whois information (a required Annex) that Complainant's right postdated the registration of the domain name.

Finally, Panels assess facts for credibility and probative proof of rights by applying a palette of factors. Priority is a principal factor; others include passive holding (Aurelon), content of the website (however weak a mark, if links are to websites offering competing goods or services, complainant prevails), locations of the parties, relationship of the parties (whether they are strangers or connected through contract (The Engineering and Development Group Limited v. Domain Privacy Service FBO Registrant, Domain Privacy Service FBO Registrant / Tamara Masri, D2018-1438 (WIPO August 28, 2018) (<edgogroup.com>) apparently a family squabble, outside the scope of the UDRP), complainant's reputation (Mister Auto), and length of time complainants have waited to commence proceedings (Playboy Enterprises, BankWest, and Irving Materials), As I mentioned in an earlier essay, laches is not generally recognized as a defense although there could be adverse consequences particularly with weak marks unable to prove reputation when the domain name was registered.

Anyone who thinks that asserting and defending disputes in an administrative proceeding is less demanding than litigating in federal court should be on notice. Disputants who do not know or understand the evidentiary requirements or the demands of the UDRP are at a disadvantage as illustrated by Mr. Allemann's observations.

Written by Gerald M. Levine, Intellectual Property, Arbitrator/Mediator at Levine Samuel LLP

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More under: Domain Names, Law, UDRP

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Joe Uddeme Makes it Rain Money as NameExperts.com Closes $475,000 Sale of Rain.com

DN Journal - Tue, 2018-09-04 21:50
Joe Uddeme at NameExperts.com has closed three 6-figure sales in the last 60 days including a half-million dollar deal that included Rain.com and Rain.net.
Categories: News and Updates

Internet Traffic Slowed for Popular Video Apps by Wireless Carriers in US, New Research Indicates

Domain industry news - Tue, 2018-09-04 21:45

"Wehe app shows videos streaming at fraction of available speed." According to new research from Northeastern University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, largest U.S. telecom companies are slowing internet traffic to and from popular apps like YouTube and Netflix. Olga Kharif reporting today in Bloomberg: "The researchers used a smartphone app called Wehe, downloaded by about 100,000 consumers, to monitor which mobile services are being throttled when and by whom, in what likely is the single largest running study of its kind. Among U.S. wireless carriers, YouTube is the No. 1 target of throttling, where data speeds are slowed, according to the data. Netflix Inc.'s video streaming service, Amazon.com Inc.'s Prime Video and the NBC Sports app have been degraded in similar ways..."

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Team Behind Google Chrome Wants to Challenge How URLs are Displayed in the Browser

Domain industry news - Tue, 2018-09-04 20:11

Google's Chrome browser has turned 10 and to commemorate the occasion, the company is rolling out a revamped design along with a series of new features, including a more powerful omnibox. In an article today published in Wired, Chrome's engineering Manager, Adrienne Porter Felt, is quoted saying "people have a really hard time understanding URLs." She continues: "They're hard to read, it's hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted, and in general I don't think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity. So we want to move toward a place where web identity is understandable by everyone — they know who they're talking to when they're using a website and they can reason about whether they can trust them. But this will mean big changes in how and when Chrome displays URLs. We want to challenge how URLs should be displayed and question it as we're figuring out the right way to convey identity."

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Might CubeSats Provide Broadband Internet Connectivity One Day?

Domain industry news - Tue, 2018-09-04 19:41

It's hard to believe that the capability of the satellites companies like OneWeb and SpaceX are contemplating might one day fit in a CubeSat, but think about the phone in your pocket.

In November, 2016, SpaceX filed a request for approval to launch 4,425 Internet-service satellites using the Ku and Ka frequency bands. The satellites were expected to measure 4 x 1.8 x 1.2 meters. In February, 2018 SpaceX launched two Internet-service test satellites — TinTin A and B — that measured only 1.1 x .7 x .7 meters.

Why the size difference?

Maybe some functions were omitted from the test satellites — for example, they may not have included inter-satellite laser communication capability — but technical progress also steadily reduces the size of electronic devices.

Might the capability TinTin A or B one day be packaged in a CubeSat?

Assembling a 3U CubeSatA CubeSat is a small satellite composed of one or more 10 x 10 x 10-centimeter cubes (units) that weigh under 1.33 kg each. For example, the 3-unit (3U) CubeSat shown below would be 10 x 10 x 30 centimeters (plus a little more for the frame holding the cubes) and weigh under 3.99 kg.

CubeSats were initially developed to support low-cost access to space for university research, but today they are being used in both commercial and research projects and many companies are manufacturing CubeSats and components.

Several startup companies are working on narrowband communication applications. Let's look at two examples.

SAS equatorial orbits (source)Skyandspace (SAS) is off to an early start. They have three 3U CubeSats in an equatorial orbit and they have demonstrated instant messageing, voice calls, financial transactions and integration with public switched telephone network.

They plan to begin launching a 200-satellite constellation next year and to be fully operational in 2020. When complete, the constellation will serve the +/- 15-degree latitude region and provide personal voice calls and messages and connectivity for machine-machine communication and "Internet of things" applications.

SAS CEO Meir Moalem estimates that the "full constellation of the 200 nanosatellites will cost somewhere between $120 and $160 million," which, he said includes "the production, launch, and operation of the constellation." They expect that that relatively low cost will enable them to replace 25% of the constellation each year, enabling them to constantly upgrade their technology. (APP Company Research used a figure of $150 million in an independent forecast).

SAS hopes to eventually provide global narrowband coverage with 1,000 satellites, but they are not talking about broadband service. On the other hand, "Internet in space" is the long-term goal of Kepler Communications.

Kepler KIPP (source)Just over two years after the company was founded and a year after being funded, Kepler had KIPP, their first operational satellite, in orbit — a testimony to CubeSat cost and development time.

KIPP, a KU-band, 3U CubeSat, is in polar orbit and providing high-speed, global store-and-forward service through their gateways in Inuvik and Svalbard. They are serving customers with latency-tolerant applications like bulk transfer of scientific and video data. (This is reminiscent of the first satellite Internet project I know of — VitaSat — which provided email and other asynchronous services in developing nations in the mid-1990s).

The next launches will be CASE, a slightly upgraded version of KIPP, which will add to their store-and-forward capacity and TARS, a redesigned 6U CubeSat that will be used for both store-and-forward and Internet of things applications. TARS will be the final service-demonstration satellite prior the early 2020 launch of the first 10 satellites of their 140 satellite constellation.

Both SAS and Kepler are small startups. SAS has issued stock and Kepler is venture funded. Kepler has also received In-Orbit Demonstration Mission funds from Satellite Applications Catapult, a non-profit company funded by Innovate UK which in turn is funded by UK Research and Innovation. (This sounds like an interesting public-private funding chain).

Like OneWeb (and unlike SpaceX), both work with partners in design and production of satellites, antennas, radios, etc. and both sound like fast-moving, innovative companies with a sense of purpose — reminiscent of the early days of both personal computing and the Internet. The "careers" page of the Kepler Web site captures this feeling well. It offers the opportunity to "join the team that's building the Internet in space," recognizes that "a good cultural fit can oftentimes be more important than technical competency when building a company" and lists "indoor bike storage" as one of the perks of employment. I'm ready to sign up!

It's hard to believe that the capability of the satellites companies like OneWeb and SpaceX are contemplating might one day fit in a CubeSat, but think about the phone in your pocket. Also, as the following time-lapse video (1:54) shows, today's CubeSats are hand built — what would mass-produced CubeSats cost and how many could a BFR launch at once?

Written by Larry Press, Professor of Information Systems at California State University

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Google Chrome team says URLs “kind of suck”, figuring out how to replace them

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2018-09-04 18:40

The people behind the Chrome browser are investigating ways to replace the URL for site identity.

Are URLs a good way to understand site identity? Google’s Chrome browser team doesn’t think so, according to an article published today by WIRED.

Adrienne Porter Felt, Chrome’s engineering Manager, told the publication:

People have a really hard time understanding URLs. They’re hard to read, it’s hard to know which part of them is supposed to be trusted, and in general I don’t think URLs are working as a good way to convey site identity. So we want to move toward a place where web identity is understandable by everyone—they know who they’re talking to when they’re using a website and they can reason about whether they can trust them. But this will mean big changes in how and when Chrome displays URLs. We want to challenge how URLs should be displayed and question it as we’re figuring out the right way to convey identity.

At the same time, Parisa Tabriz, director of engineering at Chrome, said they don’t know what this will look like. But Tabriz said that whatever is proposed will be controversial. “But it’s important we do something, because everyone is unsatisfied by URLs. They kind of suck.”

Some browsers have tried to replace the URL in the past, and those efforts have been unsatisfying. The key thing is to be able to trust the site and content you are viewing. Seeing the URL helps. That’s not to say the site identity in the browser can’t be different than a URL, but you can learn a lot by viewing the full URL of a page. Some previous efforts are akin to just showing a site name, which can be spoofed or copied.

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Categories: News and Updates

Selling social media handles – DNW Podcast #200

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2018-09-04 15:30

Learn about buying and selling social media handles on episode #200 of the DNW Podcast.

It’s the 200th episode of the DNW Podcast!

To celebrate, I’m bringing on one of my most popular repeat guests, Bill Sweetman of Name Ninja. This week Bill will explain the process of buying and selling social media handles, how much they usually sell for and if there’s an opportunity to invest in them.

Also: Paging Larry.Page, Afilias comes to America, a cryptocurrency auction and a new Whois bill?

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

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Categories: News and Updates

Domain name registrars and .Com, by the numbers

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2018-09-04 15:07

ICANN publishes latest .com data.

ICANN has published the latest official data from Verisign (NASDAQ:VRSN) about the .com registry. This registrar-by-registrar report covers Maay 2018.

There was little change on the charts. For new registrations, NameSilo lept above West.cn for the month. On the top 10 total registrations leaderboard, Xin Net swapped places with GMO.

In May, these were the top 10 registrars in terms of new .com registrations.

1. GoDaddy.com* 951,994 (960,904 in April)
2. HiChina Zhicheng Technology Ltd. 210,854 (246,804)
3. Tucows** 207,430 (203,219)
4. Endurance+ 136,328 (153,352)
5. NameCheap Inc. 125,428 (127,855)
6. Xin Net Technology Corporation 125,152 (113,107)
7. Web.com++ 109,876 (103,385)
8. Google Inc. 98,618 (92,671)
9. NameSilo 67,446 (62,017)
10. West.cn 61,649 (74,741)

Here’s the leaderboard of the top registrars in terms of total .com registrations as of the end of May 2018:

1. GoDaddy* 48,305,409 (48,088,605 in April)
2. Tucows** 12,875,098 (12,932,547)
3. Endurance+ 7,592,640 (7,725,154)
4. Web.com++ 6,709,055 (6,713,143)
5. HiChina 5,426,366 (5,298,573)
6. NameCheap 4,243,582 (4,222,952)
7. 1&1 3,744,506 (3,760,259)
8. Xin Net Technology Corporation 2,076,944 (2,010,000)
9. GMO 2,064,482 (2,089,800)
10. Google 1,728,215 (1,663,836)

Many domain companies have multiple accreditations and I’ve tried to capture the largest ones. See the notes below.

* Includes GoDaddy and Wild West Domains
** Includes Tucows and Enom
+ Includes PDR, Domain.com, FastDomain and Bigrock. There are other Endurance registrars, but these are the biggest.
++ Includes Network Solutions and Register.com

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Categories: News and Updates

XYZ asks court to make Verisign lawsuit documents public

Domain Name Wire - Tue, 2018-09-04 13:13

Company that runs .xyz domain wants to make documents from legal battle public.

XYZ wants to make documents from long battle with Verisign pubic.

XYZ.com, LLC, the company that operates the .xyz top level domain name, has asked a court (pdf) to let it make certain documents from a lawsuit with Verisign (NASDAQ:VRSN) public.

Verisign, the registry that operates the .com and .net top level domains, sued the .xyz operator in early 2015 alleging false advertising. Basically, Verisign said XYZ inflated its success and disparaged Verisign’s domains.

After extensive discovery, a judge tossed out Verisign’s suit on summary judgment. XYZ then asked the court to require Verisign to pay its $1.6 million legal bill, but that was put on hold as Verisign appealed the lower court’s ruling to an appeals court.

The appeals court ruled against Verisign and then the lower court considered the request for fees. It denied the request other than about $57,000 in discovery fees.

XYZ appealed the court’s decision to not award legal fees and the appeal is ongoing.

On Friday, XYZ asked the court to let it make a number of documents from the original suit public. They were originally filed under seal as “attorneys eyes only”.

XYZ argues that the public has a basic right to access court documents, particularly those that are key to understanding a court’s judgments and decisions. It says the documents it wants to file publicly are key evidence in XYZ’s forthcoming renewed motion for attorney’s fees.

XYZ wants to make portions of three deposition transcripts as well as a dozen documents public. The company admits these documents might be embarrassing to Verisign, but says they do not contain “highly sensitive business and financial information”.

The transcripts include depositions of Verisign SVPs Pat Kane and Scott Schnell.

Depending on what’s in the documents, Verisign might have an interest in keeping them private due to its current negotiation with the U.S. government over the Cooperative Agreement to run .com as well as the ongoing fight over .Web.

© DomainNameWire.com 2018. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact copyright (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Categories: News and Updates

Toughest State-Level Net Neutrality Bill in the US Approved by California Senate

Domain industry news - Sat, 2018-09-01 20:52

The California Senate on Friday voted to approve the toughest state-level net neutrality bill in the U.S. and now with both legislative houses having approved the bill, California Governor Jerry Brown has until September 30 to sign it into law. Jon Brodkin reporting in Ars Technica: "The bill would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling lawful traffic and from requiring fees from websites or online services to deliver or prioritize their traffic to consumers. The bill would also ban paid data cap exemptions (so-called "zero-rating"). It says that ISPs may not attempt to evade net neutrality protections by slowing down traffic at network interconnection points."

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Study Finds GDPR Has Had Minimal Impact on Spam and Domain Registrations

Domain industry news - Fri, 2018-08-31 20:07

Contrary to concerns regarding the effect of GDPR, "not only has there not been an increase in spam, but the volume of spam and new registrations in spam-heavy generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has been on the decline." This according to the latest research by Cisco Talos which conducts monthly tracking of email and spam volume. Allan Liska and Bruce Liska reporting in Recorded Future blog:

Email Volume Is Down – "on May 1, 2018, the total volume of email was 433.9 billion messages; spam accounted for 370.04 billion messages, or 85.28 percent of all email. On August 1, 2018, the total volume of messages was 361.83 billion, with 85.14 percent, or 308.05 billion messages, identified as spam. While the total volume of email fell precipitously, most likely due to a combination of seasonal email fluctuations and as the result of newly enforced privacy standards, the percentage of spam remained roughly the same… In other words, spammers are not — at least at this time — rushing to launch new campaigns because of GDPR-enforced WHOIS privacy rules."

Domain Registrations Have Fallen Slightly – "Even though the number of new domain registrations is flat, it is possible that spammers are focusing on registering new domains in top-level domains (TLDs) that have a reputation for delivering a lot of spam, but that also does not appear to be the case."

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Adopting IDN to Reach New Untapped Markets

Domain industry news - Fri, 2018-08-31 16:52

An IDN is a domain name which uses a particular encoding and format to allow a wider range of scripts to represent domain names such as Gujarati, Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari and many more scripts. In simple words, a domain name with non-English characters will be called an Internationalized Domain Name.

Humans have a variety of languages and alphabets that are familiar to them, and domain names do too. IDN unlocks an increased familiarity and affinity for humans. Well, it is easy to say now that IDNs are an investment in your company's future. Also, such audience uses keyboards that enables only their native language, thus when they look for a domain name, it makes complete sense for companies to make these domains available for them.

Another angle to understand why it is important for a company to have IDNs.

Have you seen a 2-sided business card? One side is always in English and one side in a local language. Why do people do it? Names and Brands for that matter have a strong sentimental component for attachment to what language you speak and you would certainly like to hold on to a domain name of your company in that language to protect your Brand.

Companies need to upgrade their network not just for serving the local audience but a global world of local audiences too. Once you become Universal Ready, then your system will support all local languages around the world, for example, if your system can support Hindi Email Addresses, technically it supports Russian and Chinese Email Addresses too.

There are various examples if we look at different countries adopting IDNs. In Russia, the IDN's have been adopted for visual marketing. They've done some measurement that suggests it takes just 2 seconds for someone to recognize and remember a Cyrillic domain name, but considerably longer to remember an ASCII address. Many companies in Russia started out using their IDNs for this purpose and then redirecting users to their ASCII website. Since then some have started native Cyrillic websites.

In India, Government of Rajasthan adopted IDNs and provided every citizen a free Email Address in their native language to remove the language barrier and connect every citizen to the Internet.

Coming back to Why Companies should adopt IDN, there are more reasons to it. Delaying implementing EAI increases the cost of its eventual implementation as it could mean rewriting or re-architecting code that is in development now. It also increases technical debt that will need to be resolved at some point.

Market Opportunity

CEOs are sensitive to financial and market opportunities. However, although native language support is an important factor in capturing a market, there are also many other factors that have to be resolved simultaneously. (For example, having native language speakers in customer support and call centers, native language marketing, social media, etc.) Therefore many of the arguments about market size and opportunity are not as compelling as most people think until they are made specific to the industry and demographics of the company's particular product space.

Competition

Local or global competitors can leverage their support for EAI and native languages to take away market share. That is a cogent threat.

User Experience, Customer Satisfaction and Retention

Users may have pride or feel their status is elevated by having a native language and personalized email address or IDN. Employees may also take pride in an IDN for their company.

EAI offers ease of use including entry (typing, handwriting recognition, voice), visual and voice recognition, memory recall, and easier site navigation.

Also, EAI/IDN makes it easier for users to communicate or transfer linguistic domain names to each other, since they can speak them or write them out on paper, etc.

Reach and Brand

IDN may improve SEO as the local content is lesser for your region in comparison to English. This gives early mover advantage to set up better-searched pages and rankings for your site. This reinforces and protects the localized company and product names.

As people tend to understand and visualize local language much better, IDN will make it easier for users to recognize phishing or other malicious variants of the company domain name. It even gives you the advantage of protecting brand names and prevent others from infringing on your rights in a domain name or using it to hurt your brand or trademark or hurt your SEO.

Special thanks to UASG.TECH and experts from industry who have all contributed their views namely Andrew Sullivan, Andre Schappo, Ashish Modi, Don Hollander, Edmon, Jothan Frakes, Mark Svancarek, Nitin Walia, Pinkard Alan, Roberto Gaetano, and Tex.

Written by Ajay Data, Founder and CEO at XgenPlus

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More under: Domain Management, Domain Names, Multilinguism, Web

Categories: News and Updates

Do these Jack Ryan domain name registrations make sense?

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2018-08-31 15:12

Amazon Prime just released a new Prime Original series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. Amazon has been promoting this on Prime Video for months.

Yesterday, the company registered these domain names:

jack-ryan-tv.com
jack-ryanseries.com
jack-ryantheseries.com
jack-ryantv.com
jackryan-tv.com
jackryantv.com
tom-clancys-jack-ryan.com
tomclancys-jackryan-tv.com
tomclancys-jackryanseries.com
tomclancys-jackryantheseries.com
tomclancys-jackryantv.com
tomclancysjackryan-tv.com
tomclancysjackryantv.com
tomclanys-jackryan.com

Amazon always makes a slew of defensive domain name registrations when it launches a new product. But some of these seem way over the top, including the typo tomclanys-jackryan.com.

Also, with Amazon promoting this new series for a long time, why register these domains just now?

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You need to hire a specialist lawyer for domain name disputes

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2018-08-31 14:01

Another example of a UDRP case gone wrong that might have gone the other way with different arguments.

“Maybe we should read Gerald Levine’s book about UDRP before filing.”

Would you hire a personal injury lawyer to file a trademark application? I hope not. You should hire an attorney who specializes in trademarks.

When it comes to cybersquatting claims, it’s important to hire someone who has direct experience with the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy. It’s not enough to even hire an intellectual property or trademark specialist.

There’s a lot of nuance to UDRP, and if you hire someone who’s not an expert in cybersquatting, your results will vary. You’ll also likely pay that person to research stuff that other lawyers already know.

I was reminded of this in a case just decided at National Arbitration Forum. Geo Global Partners, LLC failed to win its case against Gardenique.com, and it’s possible the outcome would have been different if the case was argued differently.

The case mostly hinged on dates. The domain was registered in 1996. Geo Global Partners’ attorney tried to argue common law rights but not did make arguments sufficient enough to qualify in a UDRP case. Furthermore, even the common law rights claimed were after 1996.

Here’s the thing: based on historical Whois records at DomainTools, it appears the current owner of the domain acquired it in late 2016 or early 2017. That changes things.

Perhaps the Complainant still would have lost for other reasons. But it’s a reminder that you should hire counsel that is experienced with the type of proceedings you are filing. Someone who has filed or defended many cases and has read many more to understand the nuance of these cases.

© DomainNameWire.com 2018. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact copyright (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Pilot Fitness, LLC tried reverse domain name hijacking

Domain Name Wire - Fri, 2018-08-31 13:22

Fitness website for pilots tries to get the .net to match its .com but is found guilty of reverse domain name hijacking instead.

“Do you think we should hijack this domain name?”

Pilot Fitness, LLC, a company that helps traveling professionals stay fit, has been found to have engaged in reverse domain name hijacking over the domain name PilotFitness.net. The company uses PilotFitness.com for its website.

PilotFitness.net is owned by a pilot who teaches fitness. He has forwarded the domain name to his website since at least 2013 (based on Archive.org) and registered the domain in 2012. Pilot Fitness, LLC bought its domain name sometime later through HugeDomains.

PilotFitness, LLC has a stylized trademark for a logo “Pilot Fitness Elevate Your Health”.

Panelist Neil Anthony Brown found that the domain name was not confusing similar to this mark, and the Pilot Fitness part was descriptive.

He also determined that the Complainant didn’t even make a prima facie case against the domain name owner that he lacks rights or legitimate interests. Brown noted:

The term used is essentially generic or descriptive, being made up of two generic words with widely understood meanings over which no-one has an exclusive entitlement and they have, on the unchallenged evidence, been used by Respondent on his website within their generic meaning, namely to offer services relating to the fitness of aircraft pilots and others who may want the same standard of fitness services. Indeed, the totality of the evidence shows that it is extremely unlikely that Respondent used the words because they were in Complainant’s trademark or that he even knew of the existence of Complainant, its business or its trademark at the time he registered the domain name. After all, he registered his domain name before Complainant came into existence and, consequently, before Complainant applied for or registered its trademark.

Brown further found that the domain wasn’t registered in bad faith, primarily because the domain was registered before Pilot Fitness, LLC existed.

This is a rare trifecta reverse domain name hijacking case in which the complainant not only failed on all three elements of UDRP, but failed to even make a prima facie case on the rights or legitimate interests prong.

It’s possible this is because the Complainant wasn’t represented by counsel. Instead of listing a lawyer, the decision states that the Complainant was represented by Lauren Dils. She’s listed on the PilotFitness.com website as a personal trainer.

© DomainNameWire.com 2018. This is copyrighted content. Domain Name Wire full-text RSS feeds are made available for personal use only, and may not be published on any site without permission. If you see this message on a website, contact copyright (at) domainnamewire.com. Latest domain news at DNW.com: Domain Name Wire.

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Interesting idea: auctioning a domain name on twitter

Domain Name Wire - Thu, 2018-08-30 19:47

A domain broker auctioned a domain name on Twitter.

Twitter is a great medium to share news, interact with friends and gripe about airline delays. Could it also be a good way to auction a domain name?

Domain broker Darryl Lopes gave it a shot this week with the domain name ITQL.com. The starting bid was $50. Here’s his tweet that kicked off the auction:

I will auction https://t.co/tJqAsVJygW on @Twitter right now. Starting at $50.

To be the first person to bid reply on Twitter in comments with
“ITQL $50” Auction ends 28th August #domainauction #domains

— Darryl Lopes [D-LO] (@DarrylLopes) August 25, 2018

The domain sold for $121. You can see the responses and bidding here.

There are a couple of things about this idea that I like. One is that you can easily reach thousands of people that follow you and pull them into the auction. Another is that the bidding is very transparent (assuming the bidder’s accounts look legit). On the downside, it’s not very scaleable.

What do you think?

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