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ICANN says “no impact” from TMCH downtime

The 10-hour outage in the Trademark Clearinghouse’s key database had no impact on domain registrations, ICANN says.

We reported earlier this week that the TMCH’s Trademark Database had been offline for much of last Friday, for reasons unknown.

We’d heard concerns from some users that the downtime may have allowed registrants to register domain names matching trademarks without triggering Trademark Claims notices.

But that worry may have been unfounded. ICANN told DI:

The issue occurred when two nodes spontaneously restarted. The cause of this restart is still under investigation. Although both nodes came back up, several services such as the network interface, TSA Service IP and the SSH daemon did not. All TMDB Services except the CNIS service were unavailable during the outage. From a domain registration point of view there should have been no impact.

CNIS is the Claim Notice Information Service, which provides registrars with Trademark Claims notice data.

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Chehade quits as ICANN CEO

Kevin Murphy, May 21, 2015, Domain Policy

ICANN president and CEO Fadi Chehade will step down from the post March 2016, he said in the last hour.

The shock news means he will have served just three and a half years in the top job by the time he leaves. He started September 14, 2012.

It sounds like he might already has a new job lined up. (UPDATE: He’s told AFP that he does, and the identity of his employer will be disclosed later this year.)

He’s told ICANN he intends “to move into a new career in the private sector (outside the Domain Name Industry)”, according to a press release.

Chehade will probably leave just about the same time as the transition of the IANA functions from US government oversight is finalized, assuming ICANN misses the target date of September 2015 and gets a six-month extension.

Here’s the full text of the press release:

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced that President and CEO Fadi Chehadé has informed the Board he will be concluding his tenure in March 2016 to move into a new career in the private sector (outside the Domain Name Industry).

At the request of the Board, Chehadé will be available to work closely with ICANN after March 2016 to support the transition to a new leader, as well as to advise the Board on any issue they require including the implementation of the IANA Stewardship Transition from the US Government to ICANN and the technical operating community.

“I want to thank Fadi for his strong commitment,” said Dr. Stephen Crocker, Chair of the Board of Directors. I am very confident that with Fadi’s continued leadership and ICANN’s very experienced management team who have the breadth to ensure that ICANN continues to manage its key responsibilities effectively, that the organization’s work will proceed smoothly.”

“I am deeply committed to working with the Board, our staff, and our community to continue ICANN’s mission as we still have much to accomplish,” said Chehadé. “During the remaining 10 months of my tenure, it’s business-as-usual. My priority remains to continue strengthening ICANN’s operations and services to the global community.”

Personally, I think this is going to be horrible for continuity at ICANN. Chehade is a vision guy who had set out long-term goals for the organization that I don’t think he’ll be able to wrap up in his remaining 10 months.

What do you think?

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Concern over mystery TMCH outage

Kevin Murphy, May 20, 2015, Domain Tech

The Trademark Clearinghouse is investigating the causes and impact of an outage that is believed to have hit its primary database for 10 hours last Friday.

Some in the intellectual property community are concerned that the downtime may have allowed people to register domain names without receiving Trademark Claims notices.

The downtime was confirmed as unscheduled by the TMCH on a mailing list, but requests for more information sent its way today were deflected to ICANN.

An ICANN spokesperson said that the outage is being analyzed right now, which will take a couple of days.

The problem affected the IBM-administered Trademark Database, which registrars query to determine whether they need to serve up a Claims notice when a customer tries to register a domain that matches a trademark.

I gather that registries are supposed to reject registration attempts if they cannot get a definitive answer from the TMDB, but some are concerned that that may not have been the case during the downtime.

Over 145,000 Claims notices have been sent to trademark owners since the TMCH came online over a year ago.

(UPDATE: This story was edited May 21 to clarify that it is the TMCH conducting the investigation, rather than ICANN.)

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Wildly popular Facebook scam attack hits .ninja

Rightside’s .ninja appears to be the victim of a broad, highly effective affiliate marketing scam that targets Indians and exploits Facebook’s trademark.

Today, 11 of the top 12 most-visited .ninja domains are linked to the same attack. Each has an Alexa ranking of under 15,000. They’re all in the top 40 new gTLD domain names by traffic, according to Alexa.

The domains are com-news.ninja, com-finance-news.ninja, com-important-finance-update.ninja, com-important-finance-news.ninja, com-important-update.ninja, com-important-news.ninja, com-important-news-update.ninja, com-finance-now.ninja, com-finance.ninja, com-news-now.ninja and com-personal-finance.ninja.

The domains do not directly infringe any trademarks and appear innocuous enough when visited — they merely redirect to the genuine facebook.com.

However, adding “facebook” at the third level leads users to pages such as this one, which contains a “work at home” scam.

Scam

Indian visitors are told that that Facebook will pay them the rupee equivalent of about $250 per day just for posting links to Facebook, under some kind of deal between Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.

It’s all nonsense of course. The page is filled with faked social media quotes and borrowed stock photos.

Not only that, but it uses Facebook’s logo and look-and-feel to make it appear, vaguely, like it’s a genuine Facebook site.

The links in the page all lead to an affiliate marketing campaign that appears, right now, to be misconfigured.

Infringing trademarks at the third level in order to spoof brands is not a new tactic — it’s commonly used in phishing attacks — but this is the first time I’ve seen it deployed so successfully in the new gTLD space.

It would be tricky, maybe impossible, for Facebook to seize the domains using UDRP or have them suspended using URS, given that the second-level domains are clean.

But it seems very probable that the domains are in violation of more than one element of Rightside’s anti-abuse policy, which among other things forbids trademark infringement and impersonation.

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Eurovision deploys dot-brand for ludicrous song contest

It isn’t making a song and dance about it, but the European Broadcasting Union is promoting is annual Eurovision Song Contest using its new dot-brand gTLD, .eurovision.

The default registry domain, nic.eurovision, is mirroring its regular web site — found at eurovision.tv — ahead on Friday night’s televised show.

It’s the only domain in the .eurovision zone so far; the EBU does not seem to be properly promoting the dot-brand yet.

That’s a pity for the domain industry, as Eurovision has a TV viewership measured in the hundreds of millions.

For those outside of the EBU’s 40 participating countries… Eurovision is an annual song competition contested by singers from mostly European nations, viewed in the UK largely as an excuse to have a bit of a mildly derisive giggle at our beloved neighbors’ taste in music, dress, culture, language, and so on.

Last year it was won by an Austrian drag queen with a beard. It’s like that, you understand.

The 60th annual televised Eurovision final takes place on Friday Saturday night.

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