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NamesCon Europe cancelled — “pandemics suck”

Kevin Murphy, March 17, 2021, Domain Services

The year’s NamesCon Europe conference has been cancelled.

The organizers said today that the 2021 event, which had been due to take place in Budapest this June, will not go ahead due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic:

Since Hungary still has a high rate of COVID infections and in-person gatherings are not allowed, we cannot produce NamesCon Europe in Budapest in July. Nobody can predict when things will improve and our recent NamesCon survey showed a high reluctance to travel, so planning this intimate in-person gathering didn’t make sense. Pandemics suck.

Unlike ICANN 71, which was last week rescheduled from The Hague to Zoom, NamesCon is not moving to the bespoke online platform it used last year.

Organizers said that they’re not setting a new date yet, but there appears to be the possibility of other online events in future.

Hungary currently ranks 4th-worst in terms of deaths per capita, according to Statista, sandwiched between the UK and Italy, two of the earliest and hardest-hit countries.

It’s currently seeing more daily cases and deaths than the UK in absolute numbers, despite having less than a sixth of the population.

CentralNic buys German monetization firm for up to $13 million

Kevin Murphy, February 22, 2021, Domain Services

CentralNic today continued is diversification outside of its core domain business by acquiring Berlin-based monetization firm Wando.

The company said it will pay €5.4 million ($6.5 million) up front and up to €5.4 million more depending on performance through Q3 2022.

CentralNic said Wando makes €4.9 million ($5.6 million) in revenue a year, over half of which already comes through its partnership with CentalNic.

Security firm sues Facebook to overturn UDRP loss of “good faith” typo domains

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2021, Domain Services

Security company Proofpoint has sued Facebook in order to keep hold of several typo domains that are deliberately intended to look like its Facebook and Instagram brands.

Proofpoint wants an Arizona court to declare that facbook-login.com, facbook-login.net, instagrarn.ai, instagrarn.net and instagrarn.org are not cases of cybersquatting because they were not registered in bad faith.

Proofpoint — a $7 billion company that certainly does not phish — uses the domains in anti-phishing employee training services, as it describes in its complaint:

Proofpoint uses intentionally domain names that look like typo-squatted versions of recognizable domain names, such as , and the other Domain Names at issue in these proceedings.

By using domain names similar to those of well-known companies, Proofpoint is able to execute a more effective training program because the workforce is more likely to learn to distinguish typo-squatted domains, which are commonly abused by bad actors to trick workers, from legitimate domain names.

Employees who click the bogus links are taken to harmless web pages describing how they were duped.

The court case comes shortly after Facebook prevailed in a UDRP case filed with WIPO.

In that case, the panelist decided that Proofpoint had no legitimate interest in the domains because they led to web sites that linked to Proofpoint’s web site, where commercial services are offered.

He therefore found that the names had been registered in bad faith, because visitors could assume that Facebook or Instagram in some way endorsed these services.

Proofpoint wants the court to reverse that decision and allow it to keep the names. Here’s the complaint (pdf).

It strikes me as at the very least bad form for Facebook to go after these domains, given that Proofpoint is tackling the Facebook phishing problem at source — user idiocy — rather than the reactive, interminable UDRP whack-a-mole Facebook seems to be engaging in.

NamesCon Europe founder Dietmar Stefitz reportedly dies

Kevin Murphy, December 4, 2020, Domain Services

I’m very sorry to report that Dietmar Stefitz, founder of the domainer conference that would become NamesCon Europe, has died, according to social media posts.

His Facebook profile this morning filled with tributes, variously describing him as “passionate”, “kind” and “genuine”, after his niece announced his death.

Stefitz was best known in the domain industry for founding the Domaining Europe conference in 2008, which he hosted annually, typically in his home town of Valencia, Spain, for a decade.

The event was eventually merged with GoDaddy’s NamesCon to become NamesCon Europe in 2018, and Stefitz took a backseat role in its management.

I did not know Dietmar well, but I spent a enjoyable evening at his table during the inaugural NamesCon Europe and found him warm and engaging.

Eerily, Stefitz’s Twitter profile was updated this afternoon, encouraging readers to “take advantage of the little moments”, over 15 hours after his death was announced. I don’t know whether it was a time-delayed post or was posted by a relative.

While the tweeted video prominently features the character of the Grim Reaper, and it’s a Christmas advertisement for meat products, it does carry the message “Disfruta en vida”, which I believe translates as “Enjoy Life”.

It’s a message that, by all accounts, Stefitz lived by.

NamesCon will be back to in-person events next July

Kevin Murphy, October 8, 2020, Domain Services

The NamesCon conference plans to be back to in-person meetings by July 2021, according to the organizers.

NamesCon said today that there will be three conferences next year. The first will be virtual, the second physical, and the third hybrid.

The first meeting will be from January 27 to January 29 next year. That’s the typical “Global” event. But this time it will be another NamesCon Online, because, well, you know.

NamesCon seems to be optimistic that this coronavirus nonsense will be largely settled by next July, because it’s planning an in-person conference in Budapest, Hungary, for July 14 to July 17 next year.

The third 2021 meeting will somewhere in North America about a year from now. It will be a “hybrid” live/online deal.

Let’s hope this is all possible. Let’s face it, none of us knows.

Floodgates, open! Trademark Clearinghouse now supports .com

Kevin Murphy, September 15, 2020, Domain Services

The Trademark Clearinghouse has added .com to the roster of TLDs supported by its infringement notification service.

The Deloitte-managed service recently announced the change to its Ongoing Notification Service, which came into effect late last month.

The update means TMCH subscribers will receive alerts whenever a .com domain is registered that contains their trademark, helping them to decide whether to pursue enforcement actions such as UDRP.

Unlike the ICANN-mandated 90-day Trademark Claims period that accompanies the launch of each new gTLD, the registrant herself does not receive an alert of possible infringement at point of registration.

The service, which is not regulated by ICANN, is still free to companies that have their marks registered in the TMCH, which charges an extra dollar for every variation of a mark the holder wishes to monitor.

Such services have been commercially available from the likes of MarkMonitor for 20 years or more. The TMCH has been offering it for new gTLDs since they started launching at the end of 2013.

With the .com-shaped gaping hole now plugged, two things could happen.

First, clients may find a steep increase in the number of alerts they receive — .com is still the biggest-selling and in volume terms the most-abused TLD.

Second, commercial providers of similar services now find themselves competing against a free rival with an ICANN-enabled captive audience.

The upgrade comes at the tail end of the current wave of the new gTLD program. With the .gay launch out of the way and other desirable open TLDs tied up in litigation, there won’t be much call for TMCH’s core services for the next few years.

It also comes just a couple months after the .com zone file started being published on ICANN’s Centralized Zone Data Service, but I expect that’s just a coincidence.

Here’s what’s in the NamesCon Online schwag bag

Kevin Murphy, August 27, 2020, Domain Services

NamesCon is fully online-only this year, due to the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped the organizers sending out schwag bags to paid-up attendees. Mine arrived this morning in an A4 card envelope. Here’s what was inside.

Schwag

  • A totally unnecessary lanyard, sponsored by a web site security company called Sectigo.
  • An equally unnecessary face mask, sponsored by a company I’d never heard of before called FlatSite. These guys appear to be in the business of providing a service that simplifies WordPress to be more suitable for managing large numbers of small static sites.
  • An “I [heart] Domains” sticker sponsored by domain monetization company Bodis. I guess you’re supposed to slap this to your laptop.
  • A larger “YOLO” sticker sponsored by Radix.
  • A NamesCon pin/badge/button. Apparently if you post a selfie while wearing it to the NamesCon platform you’re entered into a draw for a $200 Amazon gift card.

NamesCon Online runs for three days from September 9. Prices range from free to newcomers to $399 if you want a year of DNAcademy thrown in. The standard price is $59.

NamesCon Online ticket prices and name change revealed

Kevin Murphy, July 7, 2020, Domain Services

NamesCon has published the ticket price list for its upcoming virtual conference, and the first hit’s for free.

Standard tickets start at $59 — which includes a schwag bag delivered to your door if you register before the end of July — but the price is expected to go up after the end of August.

NamesCon has also entered into a promo deal with Michael Cyger’s DNAcademy, an educational service for domainers. If you buy a $399 annual subscription, the NamesCon ticket is free.

Finally, there’s a rather generous offer of a free ticket for those who have never attended a NamesCon event before.

Newcomers have to take a short survey, but there doesn’t appear to be any identity verification going on, so it seems to me there’s a possibility of its generosity being abused.

The conference also said last week that it’s changed its name from NamesCon 360° to NamesCon Online, after .online registry Radix became a sponsor. The domain is now namescon.online.

The conference will run 24/7 from September 9 to September 11 in your bedroom.

NamesCon goes virtual with intriguing 24-hour conference concept

Kevin Murphy, June 19, 2020, Domain Services

NamesCon has announced that it is going to host an online-only conference this year, with sessions running around the clock for three days straight.

It will run from September 9 to September 11 in a “custom online venue” and is being called NamesCon 360°.

Organizers are promising the usual “keynotes, panels, breakout sessions, and partner events” but with intriguing additions such as “intuitive matchmaking” and “gamification”.

The schedule is being split into a daily main track, running from 1500 UTC to 1900 UTC, and regional tracks targeting the Americas and South Asia regions, timed to be more convenient for American and Indian domainers.

There’ll also be 24-hour on-demand content, and sponsor content and networking rooms will be open for the duration of the conference.

It’s early days, and the agenda has not yet been fleshed out with information on specific sessions or speakers.

Registration is not yet open, and there’s no word on pricing. One assumes a lower ticket price than the usual in-person meetings.

NamesCon is promising a demo of its platform soon.

As it releases free download, DomainTools says 68,000 dangerous coronavirus domains have been registered

Kevin Murphy, March 26, 2020, Domain Services

More than 68,000 coronavirus-related domain names have been registered so far in 2020, according to data released by DomainTools today.

The domain intelligence services company has started publishing a list of these domains, updated daily, for free on its web site. You have to submit your email address to get it.

The download comprises a CSV file with three columns: domain, reg date, and Domain Risk Score.

This final field is based on DomainTools’ in-house algorithms that estimate how likely domains are likely to be used in nefarious activities, based on criteria including the domain’s connection to other, known-bad domains.

Only domains with a score of 70 or above out of 100 — indicating they will likely be used for activities such as phishing, malware or spam — will be included on the list, the company said.

The list will be updated daily at 0000 UTC.

You can find out more and obtain today’s list here.