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Whacky lawsuit targets ICANN, eNom, CentralNic, NetSol, Verisign

Kevin Murphy, September 18, 2012, Domain Registrars

ICANN and several domain name companies have been slapped with a bizarre, virtually incomprehensible anti-cybersquattng lawsuit in Virginia.

Canadian Graham Schreiber, registrant of landcruise.com, has beef primarily with CentralNic — the UK-based company that sells third-levels domains under us.com, uk.com and the like — and one of its customers.

As far as I can tell, the complainant, who’s representing himself pro se, has issues with CentralNic’s entire business model. Here’s his complaint (pdf).

He discovered that a British individual named Lorraine Dunabin — who has a UK trademark on the word Landcruise — had registered both landcruise.co.uk and landcruise.uk.com.

Having failed to take the .co.uk using Nominet’s Dispute Resolution Service (repeatedly referred to in the complaint as UDRP), Schreiber has instead filed this lawsuit to accuse Dunabin of “Dilution, Infringement [and] Passing off” by registering the .uk.com.

CentralNic is named because it owns .uk.com and various other geographic pseudo-gTLDs, which Schreiber says “dilute the integrity of .com” and amount to a “shakedown”.

Verisign is named as a contributory infringer because it runs .com. Network Solutions and eNom are named because they manage uk.com and landcruise.uk.com respectively as registrars.

ICANN is named because… I don’t know. I think it’s because all of the other companies are ICANN contractors.

ICANN, which has a web page for the litigation here, has already filed a motion to dismiss (pdf).

Schreiber is seeking monetary damages from all of the defendants, most of which he wants donated to the Rotary Club.

Go Daddy, Neustar and eNom join White House fake pharma takedown project

Kevin Murphy, July 26, 2012, Domain Policy

Big name companies from the domain name industry are among those leading a new White House-backed project aimed at tackling bogus internet pharmacies.

DI first reported on the formation of the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies back in December 2010, but it only fully announced itself on Monday this week.

It’s a US-based public-private partnership that counts Go Daddy, Neustar and eNom among its members. Other participants include Google, Microsoft, PayPal and Yahoo.

The project was announced along with officials from the US Department of State and the Food and Drug Administration at an event in Washington DC earlier this week.

The goals are consumer education and enforcement action against “rogue” pill sites.

Go Daddy’s acting general counsel Nima Kelly said in a statement:

Go Daddy’s partnership with the Center for Safe Internet Pharmacies is to help create awareness and fund educational campaigns in conjunction with the FDA. Go Daddy is also hosting the safemedsonline.org site pro bono.

Neustar vice president of business affairs Jeff Neuman, who’s also treasurer of CSIP, told us:

the overall goals of CSIP include providing a neutral forum for sharing relevant information about illegal US internet pharmacies among members and aiding law enforcement efforts where appropriate.

Neustar is working with the rest of the partners to address rogue pharmacies at their very source—their web addresses. Neustar has been and will continue to be vigilant in taking down rogue sites that contain malware and those that do not comply with our acceptable use policies – which include compliance with applicable drug laws.

Demand Media applies for 26 gTLDs, partners with Donuts on 107 more

Demand Media, owner of eNom, has applied to ICANN for 26 new generic top-level domains, and may acquire rights in 107 more if applications submitted by Donuts are approved.

The company has not yet revealed which strings it’s going for.

Donuts said last week that it’s applying for 307 gTLDs with Demand Media as its back-end provider, but it seems that Demand will not have ownership rights in 200 of those.

The deal with Donuts, which was founded by eNom alum, is a “strategic relationship”, according to a press release.

Go Daddy applying for three new gTLDs

Go Daddy reportedly plans to apply for three new generic top-level domains, including the dot-brand .godaddy.

CEO Warren Adelman confirmed the bids to CNet’s Paul Sloan today.

The other two strings were not revealed, presumably because they could still be contested.

Yesterday, Demand Media, owner of Go Daddy’s primary registrar competitor eNom, revealed an $18 million investment in the new gTLD program, suggesting it has more ambitious plans.

Like Demand, Go Daddy subsidiaries have a history of adverse UDRP decisions, which could complicate the background checks ICANN plans to conduct on all applicants.

Demand Media mum on $18m new gTLDs investment

Demand Media has invested $18 million in new generic top-level domains, but it won’t disclose whether it has spent all of the money on application fees.

The company, which owns number two domain name registrar eNom, held its first-quarter earnings conference call this evening, during which it revealed the investment.

A roughly $18 million investment could mean as many as 100 new gTLD applications, but Demand executives refused to elaborate on its plans.

CFO Charles Hilliard said that new gTLDs are seen as a “significant strategic growth opportunity” and that Demand would provide more details upon the closure of ICANN’s application window.

As Mike Berkens has already suggested tonight on TheDomains, a massive investment in application fees seems to be the most plausible use for the money.

The fact that the whole of the investment appears to have been made in April would support this view.

But CEO Richard Rosenblatt also confirmed during the call that the company has now also entered into the registry services provider business, providing the back-end for other applicants.

It does not appear to have been particularly successful attracting clients. Rosenblatt said that Demand has created a back-end platform and “signed our first two strategic customers”.

Just two clients would put Demand at the low end of the registry service provider rankings in this first new gTLD round.

I’m aware of at least one applicant that changed its mind about partnering with the company for its application.

ICANN’s background checks on new gTLD applicants include probes into, among other things, adverse cybersquatting decisions under the UDRP.

Demand Media, as a massive domain registrant, gets hit by UDRP complaints fairly regularly, and some have said it’s lost enough to be disqualified from running a registry under ICANN’s rules.

As far as I’m aware, it’s currently an open question whether hiding UDRP losses and applications behind subsidiaries will be enough to evade these background checks.

But if Demand is prepared to pump $18 million into applications, it must have a pretty good inkling that it won’t tumble at the first hurdle.