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Chutzpah alert! “Tube” domainer objects to Google’s .tube gTLD bid

Kevin Murphy, March 27, 2013, Domain Registries

Remember the “mystery gTLD applicant” that had promised to campaign against Google’s closed generic gTLD applications?

It turns out the company behind the campaign is actually Latin American Telecom, one of the three applicants for .tube, and that part of its strategy is a Legal Rights Objection.

According to a copy of the LRO kindly provided to DI this week, LAT claims that if Google gets to run .tube it would harm its Tube brand, for which it has a US trademark.

If you haven’t heard of Latin American Telecom, it, despite the name, appears to be primarily a domainer play. Founded in Mexico and based in Pittsburgh, its main claim to fame seems to be owning Mexico.com.

The company says it has also been building a network of roughly 1,500 video sites, all of which have a generic word or phrase followed by “tube.com” in their domains, since 2008.

It owns, for example, the domains IsraelTube.com, MozartTube.com, LabradorTube.com, AmericanWaterSpanielTube.com, DeepSeaFishingTube.com… you get the idea.

They’re all cookie-cutter microsites that pull their video content from Vimeo. Most or all of them appear to be hosted on the same server.

I’d be surprised if some of LAT’s domains, such as BlockbusterTube.com, PlaymateTube.com, FortyNinersTube.com and NascarTube.com, didn’t have trademark issues of their own.

But LAT was also granted a US trademark for the word TUBE almost a year ago, following a 2008 application, which gives it a basis to bring an LRO against Google.

According to its LRO:

The proposed purposes of and registrant limitations proposed for .TUBE by Google demonstrate that the intended purpose of Google’s .TUBE acquisition is to deprive other potential registry operators of an opportunity to build gTLD platforms for competition and innovation that challenge YouTube’s Internet video dominance. It is clear that Google’s intended use for .TUBE is identical to Objector’s TUBE Domain Channels and directly competes with Objector’s pre-existing trademark rights

There’s quite a lot of chutzpah being deployed here.

Would LAT’s ramschackle collection of –tube domains have any meaning at all were YouTube not so phenomenally successful? Who’s leveraging whose brand here, really?

For LAT to win its objection it has to show, among other things, that its TUBE trademark is famous and that Google being awarded .tube would impair its brand in some way.

But the company’s LRO is vague when it come to answering “Whether and to what extent there is recognition in the relevant sector of the public of the sign corresponding to the gTLD”.

It relies surprisingly heavily on its Twitter accounts — which have fewer followers than, for example, DI — rather than usage of its web sites, to demonstrate the success of the TUBE brand.

I don’t think its objection to Google’s .tube application is a sure thing by any stretch of the imagination.

There is a third .tube gTLD applicant, Donuts, but it has not yet received any LROs, according to WIPO’s web site.

Google has applied for .lol gTLD

Google is the first company to announce that it has applied for the new top-level domain .lol.

It’s one of several new gTLDs Google has applied for — including .google, .youtube and .docs — according to a blog post from chief internet evangelist Vint Cerf:

we decided to submit applications for new TLDs, which generally fall into four categories:

– Our trademarks, like .google

– Domains related to our core business, like .docs

– Domains that will improve user experience, such as .youtube, which can increase the ease with which YouTube channels and genres can be identified

– Domains we think have interesting and creative potential, such as .lol

Cerf, a former ICANN chairman, also promises “sensible rights protection mechanisms” and said that security will be a “high priority”.

The full list — and number — of Google’s applications does not seem to have been released yet.

UPDATE: According to AdAge, Google has applied for more than 50 gTLDs.

Google confirms new gTLD bids

Google will apply for several new generic top-level domains, according to a report in AdAge.

The company will apply for some dot-brands, and possibly some keywords, the report indicated.

“We plan to apply for Google’s trademarked TLDs, as well as a handful of new ones,” the spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

AdAge speculates that .google and .youtube would be among the applications, which seems like a fair assumption.

The revelation comes despite the fact that Google engineers recently stated that there would be no guaranteed search engine optimization benefits from owning a gTLD.

However, I wouldn’t be surprised if keywords representing some of Google’s services, such as .search and .blog, are also among its targets.

The total cost to Google is likely to run into millions in ICANN application fees alone.

It will also be interesting to see which registry provider — if any — Google has selected to run its back-end.

Google is one of the few companies out there that could scratch-build its own registry infrastructure without breaking a sweat.

The AdAge report also quotes Facebook and Pepsi executives saying they will not apply.

Go Daddy launches paid YouTube clone

Go Daddy has opened the doors of Video.me, a video-hosting service with a difference.

The difference is you have to pay for it.

The company seems to be banking on the idea that users will be happy to hand over $2 per month, rather than use YouTube for free, because Video.me has simpler password protection.

“People want privacy online, it’s obvious from the all of the recent news,” chief executive Bob Parsons said in a press release. “YouTube has been the place for mass-consumption videos, but for sharing more personal items, it’s way too complicated.”

Most of the recent news about online privacy has been focused on Facebook. I don’t think I’ve seen many people complaining about YouTube.

Still, at the very least the service is a high-profile use of a .me domains, which could help Go Daddy as a partner in Domen, the Montenegro-based .me registry.