Archive for the 'Domain Names' Category



Shopping.de sold for €1.96 million

Shopping.deAccording to a company press release (German), the domain name Shopping.de was sold for €1,960,000 (~$2,800,000) in 2008. The domain was purchased by Unister GmbH, a company also operating other popular online portals such as News.de, Auto.de, Geld.de (“money”), Kredit.de (“credit”, “loan”) and Preisvergleich.de (“price comparison”).

Since then, Unister GmbH has been busy developing an online shop under its newly acquired domain. After one year of development, the Shopping.de website has finally been launched and is now waiting for shoppers to arrive and spend their money. The press release says the launch of Shopping.de will be supported by an extensive marketing campaign, although I haven’t seen or heard any ads for the site, yet.

The high sale price of €1.96 million makes Shopping.de the most expensive .DE domain name so far. Unister was also the buyer of the Kredit.de domain, which it bought for a reported €892,000 (~$1,275,000) and which is the second-highest .DE domain sale that I know of. It’s sales like these that give you an idea of how many high-value domains really change hands without being reported to the public.

Swedish regulator wants the word “bank” to be banned from .SE domains

PTSIn a startling move, the Swedish regulator PTS apparently has declared that it wants to ban the term “bank” from all domain names registered under the Swedish .SE top-level domain. It notified the .SE registry about its decision in a letter (PDF, Swedish) on August 27, 2009 and requested the domain registration rules to be changed accordingly. All applications for domain registrations would then have to be approved prior to the registration to make sure that the registering organization really is a bank or that the domain won’t lead to any misunderstandings.

Not only is this a very surprising move but it is also alarming, considering that what PTS is asking for is to make the inclusion of a perfectly generic term in domain names illegal. Against the background of the current financial crisis and the increasing number of online scams I can understand why PTS might want to have more control over banks in Sweden and how they do business on the Internet, but banning generic terms from domain names is something that should not be tolerated. After all, it is very well possible that in the future they would begin to ban more words and censor the .SE name space if this ruling really goes through.

What remains to be done is to hope that the .SE registry will fight this demand, and that it will successfully repel it.

(via CircleID)

Lufthansa, Burberry win Domain Names

WIPOI just received the newsletter including the latest WIPO decisions. Some prominent companies have won domain disputes again, including Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Burberry Limited.

Both companies were able to achieve the transfer of the disputed domain names: Lufthansa won Lufthansa.com.au and Burberry won BurberryGroup.com.

In the case of Lufthansa.com.au, the former owner had been so audacious as to approach Deutsche Lufthansa AG and offer the domain to them at a price of €10,000. Following that, Lufthansa contacted the owner using the contact information listed in the whois and asked for the domain to be transferred to them for free. The domain owner, however, did not do so. Instead, he chose to get back to Lufthansa with a lower price of €3,000. After some back and forth, including repeated requests to hand over the domain name, Deutsche Lufthansa AG finally decided to file the WIPO complaint. Throughout the proceedings, the respondent did not bother to respond to Lufthansa’s claims anymore, and he expectedly lost the domain name Lufthansa.com.au to the rightful new owner.

I’m always at a loss as to why anybody would purchase such obvious trademark infringements. I mean, I understand that there is a financial motivation, but the registration of these domains was obviously illegal. It is the bad faith use of domain names, like witnessed in the aforementioned cases, that gives the domain industry a bad name. Maybe you remember the LH.com ruling from 2008, which was a disastrous decision. But in the case of Lufthansa.com.au, Deutsche Lufthansa AG had the right to go after the domain name and rightfully won. Every time a self-proclaimed domain investor — who actually is a cybersquatter — registers or acquires a trademark-infringing domain, that will strengthen the lobby of large corporations. Those corporations might then decide to also go after domains they do not have any rights in, as has unfortunately happened with LH.com. This, in turn, weakens the position of professional domain investors and will make it more difficult for them to defend their generic domain names against attempts of reverse hijacking.

As an industry, we must stand together and fight cybersquatting. While supporting trademark holders with getting domains they are entitled to, we may not give them any reason to go after valuable, non-infringing keyword domains. This includes not to applaud those multi-millionaire domainers who have made a good part of their fortunes using TM-infringing typo domains. It also includes to educate the general public about the lawful trading of keyword domain names, called domaining or domain investing. The domain industry is still a young industry. It has come a long way and many companies and individuals in this field have accomplished a lot, but every time somebody trades a trademark-infringing domain, that will throw us a step back again. If we want the industry to continue to mature, we may not endure such destructive behavior.

ICANN seeking input on Post-Expiration Domain Recovery

ICANNICANN is asking for comments from the public on its post-expiration domain name recovery practices. These policies regulate to what extent and how it should be possible for domain owners to recover their domain names after the expiration date. The public comment period was opened August 20 and ends September 10, 2009. Make sure to submit your comments before that date if you want to participate in the discussion. Comments may be submitted by sending an email to pednr-wg-questions@icann.org. All comments received will be listed on this page.

Specifically, ICANN seeks input on the following questions, as quoted from its website:

  1. Whether adequate opportunity exists for registrants to redeem their expired domain names;
  2. Whether expiration-related provisions in typical registration agreements are clear and conspicuous enough;
  3. Whether adequate notice exists to alert registrants of upcoming expirations;
  4. Whether additional measures need to be implemented to indicate that once a domain name enters the Auto-Renew Grace Period, it has expired (e.g., hold status, a notice on the site with a link to information on how to renew, or other options to be determined);
  5. Whether to allow the transfer of a domain name during the Redemption Grace Period (RGP).

I think a lot of this depends not only on ICANN but also on the registrars where the domains are registered at. It is obviously important to have standardized agreements that are binding to all domain registrars, and which regulate the post-expiration recovery of domain names in a way that will benefit domain owners.

Speaking of questions 1 and 3, I would say that the mechanisms in place at good domain registrars today are absolutely sufficient and fair. For example, Moniker sends out several expiration notices via email well in advance of the expiration date, and on top of that it also prominently lists soon-to-expire domains on the dashboard within the customers’ accounts. I can’t speak for all domain registrar companies, but those I’ve been using have done a good job of letting me know of domains that were about to expire, so that I had ample time to renew them. It’s also important that registrars mark expired domains as being in redemption period and also provide a link to further information to avoid confusion on part of inexperienced domain owners.

The idea formulated in question 4, to put a notice directly on the site of expired domains with a link to information on how to renew or redeem expired domains, would perhaps function as an effective alert to domain holders, especially those who do not fully understand the whole expiration and renewal process. We can observe every day that domain owners do not understand why they have lost a domain name they failed to renew. Providing more detailed information and explaining the domain expiration and redemption process even to the most inexperienced people could benefit not only affected domain owners but also ICANN and the domain community in general, because it would prevent legal conflicts and save money in the long run.

In answer to question 2, this again depends on the individual domain name registrars. Most registrars use transparent terms of service which also inform customers about the concept of domain expirations. But legal agreements are never an easy read, so formulating the agreements as simple as possible would certainly make it easier for customers new to domain names. On the other hand, it is most important that the agreements cover all possible legal aspects of registering, renewing and recovering domain names, and to allow for bilateral legal protection should remain the primary purpose of the agreements between domain registrars and registrants.

Regarding question 5, I strongly dissent the idea of allowing the transfer of a domain away from its owner during the redemption grace period. At the very least, the current domain owner should receive a note by phone and email upon a request to change ownership to the new owner, which he is then allowed to veto within a given time frame. Allowing the transfer of a domain during the RGP would be the same as doing away with the grace period altogether. This may not happen, because the redemption grace period is an important part of the recovery process and resembles the last chance for domain registrants to regain ownership of domain names they let accidentally expire.

ICANN publishes more financial information

ICANNKevin Wilson, ICANN’s Chief Financial Officer, made a post on ICANN’s blog yesterday saying the organization would provide more thorough financial information from now on. This is something that has long been asked for by the domain community, considering that ICANN is a not-for-profit organization that should protect the interests of domain name owners. In the past, it was often unclear or difficult to find out what ICANN was spending its money on and where that money came from. To supply the wants of the domain community, ICANN has now made more additions to its website.

First of all, it has added a Dashboard not too long ago, where you can see summarizing graphics of financial data and expense reports. Displayed on the dashboard are unaudited financial information. The graphics do not provide lots of detailed information, but they’re a good first stop for a summary of the organization’s revenue and expenses.

More detailed information on ICANN’s finances can be found on its Financial Information page, including general financial information, current year financial information and historical information for each year from 1999 up to the current fiscal year. In the first section you will find, for example, ICANN’s disbursement policy, its investment policy and travel support guidelines. The second section provides documents about the organization’s current fiscal year, such as its strategic plan, operating plan and budget. The historical information are basically structured in the same way.

In his blog post, Mr. Wilson points out that the operating plan and budget are put out to public comment. Furthermore, it is possible to raise questions about both the plan and the budget during all ICANN meetings.

I think it is good to see ICANN making it easier for the domain community to learn about ICANN’s finances and to comment on ICANN’s budgets and plans. I’ve only had a chance to go through the information rather quickly, so I can not yet say whether the information are sufficient. If you think ICANN should be more open in its communication of finances and business strategies, I suggest that you post a comment on this issue on ICANN’s website, including the comment section below Mr. Wilson’s blog post.

You may recall that ICANN has been heavily criticized for having put several million dollars in risky investments which later depreciated by more than $4 million. ICANN still makes it difficult for outsiders to learn more about this specific investment decision, at least from my point of view, so this is something where I see room for improvement. If this loss is only on paper and hasn’t been realized yet, what are the chances that the invested sum will be recovered? What exactly are the stocks and bonds ICANN invested the money in? These are just two questions I would like to be answered. So far, I haven’t found any information on this on ICANN’s website. If they are there, it will be much appreciated if you can provide a link or tell me more about it.




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