The new gTLD registry Dot Strategy included many famous brands on its list of premium .buzz names, including two that could get its partner, Go Daddy-owned Afternic, in hot water.
Until a couple of hours ago, nic.buzz carried what appeared to be thousands of premium listings, organized by category and carrying prices of $1,000 and up, some of which seemed to target brands.
The names of several sports teams, such as 49ers.buzz and blackhawks.buzz, were listed for sale in the sports category (hat tip: Valideus‘ Brian Beckham).
I also spotted listings for domains such as photoshop.buzz (an Adobe software brand) in the technology category and hobbit.buzz (believe it or not, “Hobbit” is a trademark) in an entertainment category.
But the ones that really caught my attention were academyaward.buzz and academyawards.buzz, which carried prices of $1,900 each.
That’s surprising because if you try to buy these domains you’ll be instructed to contact Afternic, which is handling the premium process. And as of September, Go Daddy owns Afternic.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars and owns “Academy Award” and “Academy Awards” trademarks, has been locked in litigation with Go Daddy for the last four years.
The Academy claims that Go Daddy is cybersquatting due to its practice of making money parking its customers’ domains, including domains containing Academy trademarks such as academyawardz.com.
Most recently, Go Daddy tried to get the appointed judge in the case kicked out, alleging that she’s in the Academy’s pocket.
While the lawsuit is certainly controversial, attempting to sell $3,800 worth of domain names matching the Academy’s marks probably wouldn’t help Go Daddy look less cybersquatty to its opponent.
It could be argued that many of the premium names that match brands are also generic — Black Hawks could be helicopters and I’m sure there are plenty of academies in the world that hand out awards.
A legitimate registrant could buy many of these trademark-matching listed names and fight off a UDRP, I reckon.
But when somebody lists the name for sale in a category appropriate to the class of trademark, I’d say that makes the name look a lot less generic.
Bieber is a surname presumably shared by many people, but when you list bieber.buzz for sale in a category related to entertainment it can only really refer to one person.
Somebody yanked the premium listings section from the nic.buzz web site after I requested comments from Dot Strategy and Go Daddy a few hours ago. This post will be updated should I receive said comments.
.buzz is currently in its sunrise period and is due to go to general availability in mid-April. As I’ve said before, it’s one of my favorite new gTLD strings and I wouldn’t be surprised if sells quite well.
UPDATE: Go Daddy said: “Afternic is working with dotStrategy, Co. (the .BUZZ registry) to review the list and revise as appropriate.”
Web.com has acquired domain name dropcatcher SnapNames for an undisclosed sum, according to press releases from it and former owner KeyDrive, confirming reports from Friday.
Web.com said the deal will be “immaterial” to its 2014 financial results.
The Nasdaq-listed company already owns leading registrars Network Solutions and Register.com. It’s also a new gTLD applicant, one of many companies having applied for .web.
KeyDrive acquired SnapNames, along with the registrar Moniker, from Oversee.net in 2012.
Just last week KeyDrive announced that Moniker, which with SnapNames had been managed by Craig Snyder, was getting a new CEO in the form of Key-Systems exec Bonnie Wittenberg.
New gTLDs may have only been in general availability for a few weeks, but there’s already evidence of substantial abuse.
Go Daddy has suspended at least 305 new gTLD domain names, putting them on its spam-and-abuse.com name servers, standard Go Daddy practice for domains suspected of abuse.
Over 250 of these were put on the naughty step in the last 24 hours.
The suspended names include, notably, thepiratebay.guru, which matches the name of controversial torrent site frequented by people who like downloading copyrighted material for free.
The Pirate Bay has been switching TLDs like crazy recently, as one ccTLD after another shuts down its latest attempt to find a reliable home.
The .guru domain is registered under Go Daddy’s Domains By Proxy privacy service, so it’s not clear if it actually belongs to The Pirate Bay or to an opportunistic third party.
Other suspended names include premium-looking names such as electric.guru, sexualhealth.guru, as well as obvious cybersquatted names such as verizon.guru (not registered to Verizon).
But the majority of the suspended names seem to belong to a single registrant in Washington state, all in .guru and largely “pigeon shit” names such as bestdrinksites.guru and bestfashionsites.guru.
While 305 seems like a large number (albeit only 0.2% of the current new gTLD names sold), it appears that so far a single individual is responsible for most of the “abuse” in new gTLDs.
Registrars based in the European Union are becoming increasingly disgruntled by what they see as ICANN dragging its feet over registrant privacy rules.
Some are even refusing to sign the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement until they receive formal assurances that ICANN won’t force them to break their local privacy laws.
The 2013 RAA, which is required if a registrar wants to sell new gTLD domains, requires registrars to keep hold of registrant data for two years after their registrations expire.
Several European authorities have said that this would be illegal under EU privacy directives, and ICANN has agreed to allow registrars in the EU to opt out of the relevant provisions.
Today, Luxembourgish registrar EuroDNS said it asked for a waiver of the data retention clauses on December 2, but has not heard back from ICANN over two months later.
The company had provided ICANN with the written legal opinion of Luxembourg’s Data Protection Agency
In a snippy letter (pdf) to ICANN, EuroDNS CEO Lutz Berneke wrote:
Although we understand that your legal department is solely composed of lawyers educated in US laws, a mere translation of the written guidance supporting our request should confirm our claim and allow ICANN to make its preliminary determination.
EuroDNS has actually signed the 2013 RAA, but says it will not abide by the provisions it has been told would be illegal locally.
Elsewhere in Europe, Ireland’s Blacknight Solutions, said two weeks ago that it had requested its waiver September 17 and had not yet received a pass from ICANN.
“Why is it my problem that ICANN doesn’t understand EU law? Why should our business be impacted negatively due to ICANN’s inability to listen?” CEO Michele Neylon blogged. “[W]hile this entire farce plays out we are unable to offer new top level domains to our clients.”
But while Blacknight is still on the old 2009 RAA, other European registrars seem to have signed the 2013 version some time ago, and are already selling quite a lot of new gTLD domains.
Germany’s United-Domains, for example, appears to be the third-largest new gTLD registrar, if name server records are anything to go by, with the UK’s 123-Reg also in the top ten.
That comment period is not scheduled to end until February 27, however, so it seems registrars agitated about foot-dragging have a while to wait yet before they get what they want.
KeyDrive has appointed Bonnie Wittenburg, Key-System USA executive vice president, as the new CEO of sister registrar Moniker.
She replaces Craig Snyder, who was CEO of Moniker and SnapNames and remains CEO of SnapNames. Wittenburg keeps her EVP roles at Key-Systems.
“Through her expanded role she will drive cooperation and develop a synergistic relationship between the KeyDrive members,” the company said in a statement.
The KeyDrive stable also includes Key-Systems, NameDrive and KS Registry.
Wittenberg is a 15-year veteran of the domain name industry, with previous stints at Network Solutions and Iron Mountain.