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“Super Lawyers” not famous enough to win gripe site UDRP fights

Kevin Murphy, July 5, 2011, Domain Policy

Three lawyers have failed to win cybersquatting complaints against a blogger who registered domains matching their personal names in order to criticize them.

Gregg Mashberg, Allen Fagin and Joseph Leccese, all attorneys with the international law firm Proskauer Rose, have lost three separate UDRP complaints recently.

Self-professed “investigative blogger” Crystal Cox registered josephleccese.com, allenfagin.com and greggmashberg.com last October, in order to publish a handful of unreadable and potentially defamatory blog posts alleging various forms of criminality.

The three men do not hold registered trademarks matching their names, so were forced to rely upon various awards they have won and media appearances they have made to show common law rights.

All three have apparently been named “Super Lawyers” by something called New York Super Lawyers, for example.

But the three-person WIPO panel which heard all three cases found, in virtually identical decisions, that the lawyers had failed to acquire common law trademark rights to their names.

The decisions read:

The record before the Panel suggests that Complainant is a highly respected, prominent lawyer who is a partner with a major law firm. There is insufficient evidence here that Complainant markets or provides services independently of the Proskauer law firm. Rather, it appears that the Proskauer firm is the platform on which Complainant provides his legal services.

It’s not unusual for a celebrity or public figure to win a UDRP complaint on the basis of their fame, but it appears in this case that the complainants were just not famous enough.

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Russian firm fined millions over domain land-grab

RU-Center, Russia’s largest domain name registrar, will have to repay 240 million rubles ($8.6 million) for grabbing thousands of domain names and auctioning them during the .РФ landrush.

The company could also be fined up to 75% of its 2009 revenues for breaking competition law, according to a statement from the country’s Federal Antimonopoly Service.

When .РФ was launched by the .ru registry launched last November, it offered domain names on a first-come first-served basis, without the premium landrush period offered by other TLDs.

RU-Center took this opportunity to register 60,000 domains in its own name and sell them off to the highest bidder, essentially bringing the landrush to the registrar level.

Some ccTLD Coordination Center council members, responsible for setting the launch policies, had ownership interests in RU-Center either directly or through family members, according to FAS.

The registrar is currently being acquired by a company called RBC.

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Shakeup at Go Daddy

Go Daddy has a new boss and new ownership following a deal reportedly worth $2.25 billion.

For the first time in its 14-year history, Bob Parsons will be neither the majority shareholder nor the CEO.

It appears that seasoned technology investment firms KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures will own, between them, more than half of the domain name registrar.

Very little about the “partnership” was disclosed, including the financial terms. Various media sources valued the deal at $2.25 billion.

It was left to Domain Name Wire to uncover the news that Parsons will actually step aside as CEO to allow COO Warren Adelman to take over.

Parsons will become executive chairman.

A Go Daddy spokesperson said: “Mr. Parsons has said he will be very active in the business, especially in the areas he is most interested, such as marketing.”

She added that “very little will change”.

The spokesperson confirmed that after the deal closes Parsons will no longer be the majority shareholder. He currently owns 78% of Go Daddy, with the remaining 22% allocated to employee stock options.

As DNW reported, 36 employees will cash out for over $1 million each.

I wonder if we’ll see a mini wave of new domain name companies springing up in the Scottsdale area, as a result of newly minted Go Daddy millionaires leaving to launch their own start-ups.

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Go Daddy gripe site to shut down

NoDaddy.com, a gripe site dedicated to discussing customer and employee grievances with Go Daddy, is to be shut down by its administrators.

The shutdown coincides with an ownership shakeup at the registrar, which will see Warren Adelman take over as CEO and three big new investors come on board.

NoDaddy administrator “Rohan” wrote:

What started to document the improper suspension of SecLists.Org grew to cover dozens of other GoDaddy scandals including shill bidding on their own domain auctions, improperly blocking users from transferring domains to other registrars, sexual harassment, constant objectification of women, killing elephants for promotional purposes, etc. We’re hopeful that GoDaddy’s new owners will stop these shenanigans.

While our opinions of GoDaddy haven’t changed, we (NoDaddy admins) have decided to move on to focus on our other pursuits. Accordingly, we’ll be shutting down the main site and the forums on July 8. The site had a great run, and we appreciate your participation over the last 4 years!

In recent months, the vast majority of the posts on the forum have been made by a single disgruntled former Go Daddy employee who is currently suing the company for alleged “wage theft”.

The thread about the class action rambles on to some 147 pages and over 2,100 posts, most of which were made by this individual, going by the handle EmployeeClassAction.

Unsurprisingly, this user suspects the administrators were paid off.

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DirecTV wins first-ever .so UDRP

Kevin Murphy, July 1, 2011, Domain Policy

The recently relaunched .so top-level domain has seen its first UDRP case. DirecTV, the American satellite TV provider, won its complaint over the domain directv.so.

As you might imagine, it was found by WIPO to be a slam-dunk case of cybersquatting, with the respondent not even bothering to respond.

The domain was registered April 1, the first day .SO Registry opened its doors to general availability.

The registrant merely parked the domain with his registrar, which is enough nowadays to show commercial use and thus bad faith.

It will be interesting to see how badly .so is cybersquatted. It was not a particularly high-profile launch, and it lacks the attractiveness of, say, .co, so I expect we won’t see a great many UDRP cases filed.

.SO Registry, which has GMO Registry as its back-end provider, had pretty much the same trademark protection mechanisms built-in as .co, and used some of the same counsel to create them.

.so is the ccTLD for Somalia.

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