Financial website Forexpros.com has purchased Investing.com for $2.45 million and rebranded itself under the new domain name, as TechCrunch reports. The sale of Investing.com makes it the second largest known purchase of a single domain name this year, after CardLab's $4 million deal for GiftCard.com.
Forexpros, based primarily in Europe and the Middle East, describes its vision for Investing.com as a "one-stop shop for financial traders and investors around the world." The company looks to use the intuitive, generic domain name to increase traffic and attract Internet users with mostly free content that might otherwise be behind paywalls on competitors' sites.
The sale of Investing.com ranks as the 26th most expensive domain name sale on record, and it should come as no surprise that the majority of domain name sales that came in above it were for generic terms as well. Of the top 25, only FB.com, purchased by Facebook for $8.5 million in 2010, has a brand connotation, proving that in the world of domain name sales, strong generic domain names continue to nab top dollar.
When used correctly, generic-term domain names can be extremely valuable for companies in terms of branding, traffic, and revenue. Investing.com is already up and running with extensive content, and time will tell whether or not Forexpros' big purchase will pay off.
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has officially registered a trademark for "GI Bill" and taken steps to protect the term online as well. The G.I. Bill is a key piece of legislation that primarily helps U.S. servicemen and women pay for higher education after military service.
Although the Bill has been in existence since 1944, Executive Order 13607, passed in April, allowed the VA to register the "GI Bill" mark in order to protect veterans and ensure that they are able to find official materials in the right place. In addition to the trademark registration, the VA gained control of the domain name GIBill.com when the original owners agreed to hand the site over.
According to WHOIS data, which does not yet reflect this change in ownership, the owner of the domain name is still QuinStreet, Inc., a California-based marketing agency that specializes in vertical marketing and online media. The VA currently uses GIBill.VA.gov as its homepage for information on the G.I. Bill, but adding GIBill.com to its domain name portfolio will significantly boost awareness and user access. Compete data shows that GiBill.com had just over 3,000 visitors in October, but that number reached nearly 40,000 in May, the month after the new Executive Order.
The VA will presumably redirect the domain name to the official .GOV homepage, which will strengthen the online presence of the G.I. Bill and represents an important addition to the VA's domain name portfolio.
A collective of enforcement agencies around the world joined forces recently to seize 132 domain names selling counterfeit goods as part of specific consumer protection operations. Dubbed "Project Cyber Monday" and "Project Transatlantic," the programs are part of a larger effort called Operation In Our Sites (IOS), which is responsible for 1,630 domain name seizures since its launch in June 2010.
For the third year in a row, the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center) coordinated this joint effort around Cyber Monday, the largest online shopping day of the year. Of the 132 domain names, 101 were seized as part of Project Cyber Monday, while an additional 31 were taken through Project Transatlantic.
Officers from the U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations, Europol, and law enforcement agencies in France, Denmark, the UK, Belgium, and Romania made undercover purchases on websites suspected of selling counterfeit goods. Once copyright holders determined that the products purchased were counterfeit or illegal, authorities seized the domain names that sold the products. Associated PayPal accounts revealed more than $175,000 in received funds, which the same officers are currently working on gaining control of.
This news comes in the wake of the publication of the latest MarkMonitor Shopping Report, which revealed that one in five online bargain hunters has accidentally shopped on a website selling counterfeit goods. The report describes how shoppers simply looking for low prices on specific products are often duped by websites passing counterfeit goods off as legitimate wares. The report demonstrates the magnitude of the problem that programs like Project Cyber Monday look to address, as MarkMonitor reports that brand owners lost more than $200 billion to online brand abuse last year alone.
For every brand owner, it is critical to have a proactive reclaim strategy in order to protect both the brand itself and its customers online. Brand owners should also be reactive where necessary – prioritizing valuable reclaim opportunities and pursuing them via UDRP or other effective actions.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the domain name Nets.com redirecting to a page taunting the Brooklyn Nets and owner Mikhail Prokhorov and subsequently, the Dallas Mavericks homepage. Some people suspected that the prank was the work of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who has feuded with Prokhorov in the past, but that theory could be dispelled by a new Nets.com development, reported by the New York Post.
Today, if you type Nets.com into your browser, you will find yourself on the NBA homepage of another New York team: the New York Knicks. This new redirect provides more questions than answers. If Cuban really were behind the page, why would he promote an NBA team that isn't his own, or is there a third party who just likes to mess with Prokhorov and the Nets?
WHOIS data for the site has not changed since October, and it is still registered to Cyber Mesa Computer Systems in New Mexico, the company that has owned the domain name since 1994. One would guess that the same person is behind all of the different redirects, due to their generally similar nature, but it's impossible to know for sure.
Regardless, the same takeaway as before remains true. The loser here is the Nets franchise, which is being repeatedly pranked on a domain name that it should own. Of course, now that the season has started, the real NBA action is on the court, but it will be interesting to see how this domain name drama plays out online.
Every hurricane season, it's difficult to predict which storms will cause colossal damage and which will barely register. There is one thing that is easy to figure out in advance, though: the names of the hurricanes that will emerge each year.
Since 1953, the National Hurricane Center has named each hurricane of the season. There are six complete lists of names that run on a cycle, so the names this year are the same as the names from 2006. Because of this pattern, it is easy to figure out which names will be used in a given year.
What does any of this have to do with domain names? Well, whenever there is a big storm or natural disaster, there is often a rush to register related domain names to take advantage of the increased interest and corresponding traffic. I noticed that a company called Weather Risk Solutions had already registered HurricaneSandy.com, which relates to this past week's East Coast storm. After doing some more digging, I found that the company has nabbed virtually every HurricaneName.Com domain name from the six-list cycle.
Each domain name redirects to the same homepage for HuRLO, a product offered by Weather Risk Solutions that allows participants to supplement their hurricane insurance coverage based on where they think hurricanes might make landfall. This sort of niche offering might normally have trouble garnering publicity or public awareness, but through the use of such intuitive hurricane-related domain names, the parent company can boost consumer awareness of its brand and service offerings.
WHOIS data shows that HurricaneSandy.com, like most of the other hurricane related domain names, was registered by Weather Risk Solutions in 2002. The company clearly had the foresight to purchase these domain names in order to utilize them to promote its product. This shows how a forward-thinking domain name strategy can pay off in the long run. It may have been difficult to predict Sandy's physical impact until a few days ago, but Weather Risk Solutions was banking on its potential impact for traffic and revenue on its website a full decade ago.
The Democratic National Committee has turned to the Internet to take on Mitt Romney's tax cut promises by launching RomneyTaxPlan.com. The interactive site appears, at first, to be an official Romney campaign site, but it quickly becomes apparent that the opposite is true.
The simple interface features Romney's official campaign logo and slogan, "Believe in America" and text that urges visitors to "click the button below" to learn the details of the Romney-Ryan tax plan that proposes to cut taxes by $5 trillion. When a user tries to click the red button that reads, "Get the details," the button keeps moving, impossible to click on, a clear jab at Romney's tendency to evade details, as the Obama campaign alleges.
A few seconds later, an edit to the slogan changes it to "Believe in half of America," referencing Romney's much-maligned comment about “not caring about” 47 percent of the country. The site openly states that it was paid for by the Democratic National Committee and hosts a link for visitors to donate to the Democratic Party. While text at the bottom states, "This communication is not authorized by any candidate," the site links to BarackObama.com for his campaign’s information on Romney's proposed tax plan.
RomneyTaxPlan.com is the latest creative use of websites and domain names during this presidential race, following the Romney campaign's highly publicized use of ObamaIsntWorking.com. WHOIS records for RomneyTaxPlan.com show that it was registered to Domains By Proxy, LLC in October 2011 but updated as recently as last week. The Democratic National Committee either had the foresight to register the domain nearly a year ahead of time, or the owner of the domain is allowing the group to use it. Regardless, the Committee openly claims responsibility for creating the site.
While not an explicit example of identity squatting (an issue CADNA reports on during election seasons – the most recent report is available here), this site certainly takes some liberties in terms of using Romney's campaign materials. With only about three weeks until the election, more sites are likely to pop up. Mere days after the most recent debate, there are already numerous sites and social media pages that have emerged around Romney’s “Binders Full of Women” gaffe. It will be interesting to see what other digital tricks the campaigns and their respective supporters have up their sleeves.
Misspelling a domain name is a common mistake. Most of the time you'll end up on a page that doesn't resolve or a pay-per-click page. Sometimes, if the site you're trying to get to has a strong domain portfolio, you'll get to your intended destination via a redirect. One outcome that you don't expect, however, is to end up on the page of a competitor.
Papa John's primary domain is PapaJohns.com, but adding an extra "P" and typing PappaJohns.com is probably one of the most common typos for users looking to visit the pizza company's homepage. Imagine the surprise of some users when they inadvertently make the mistake and being redirected, not to the Papa John's site, but to the homepage of competitor Pizza Hut.
The redirect doesn't happen every time. Sometimes you'll end up on a generic PPC site, but when it does happen, the URL reveals the source of the redirect: Sendori.
The Oakland-based company calls itself "the only direct navigation company that connects people with the brands they really want the first time they try." The company has a desktop app that aims to redirect typos to the intended site, but some users have complained that the software alters DNS settings and is difficult to remove from computers.
Sendori works with both advertisers and publishers to deliver content on pages reached by typos. Publishers, or the owners of these sites, work with Sendori to place content on the pages that they own, in order increase revenue. Advertisers can pay to have their content featured by Sendori. By the looks of this situation, the owner of Pappajohns.com is working with Sendori to place content on its page, and Pizza Hut is benefitting from the redirect, possibly as a paid advertiser.
All of this could be prevented if Papa John's owned the domain in question to begin with. Instead, WHOIS records show that it is registered to a user named "Pretap" in Nepal, who appears to be a serial cybersquatter. Papa John's should seek to acquire the domain, which typically receives between 6,000 and 15,000 visitors per month, most of whom are surely looking for the pizzeria's real homepage. Not owning common typos like this one can cause reputational damage and impact sales.
At first glance, the Brooklyn Nets appear to have it all, from a shiny new arena to a solid starting five. The team can even count one of the biggest rap stars in the world among its owners. There is one thing that the Nets don't have, though: the domain name of their dreams, Nets.com.
And the owner of Nets.com won't let the team forget it. As of earlier this week, according to The Basketball Jones blog, the URL resolved to a sparse page featuring a picture of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, some text in Russian taunting Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, and English text that read, "Looking for the Brooklyn Nets? They're not here…but they SHOULD be!" As of today, however, Nets.com redirects to the Mavericks NBA.com homepage.
The speculation that Cuban is behind the prank will only get stronger as the mystery remains unsolved, given the fact that the Dallas owner has made no attempt to hide his feelings about Prokhorov, especially after he lost out on star point guard Deron Williams to the Nets. The ongoing feud between Cuban and Prokhorov would seem to indicate that Cuban registered Nets.com with the sole purpose of taunting the Nets owner, but there is no record of Cuban ever registering the domain.
WHOIS data for Nets.com shows that Cyber Mesa Computer Systems of Santa Fe has owned the domain since 1994. As of earlier this year, Nets.com redirected to the Cyber Mesa homepage, and the company's registration isn't set to expire until 2014. So what happened? At this point, it's anyone's guess. Because the WHOIS record has not changed, there is no indication that anyone other than Cyber Mesa is currently operating the domain.
The prank may appear to be the work of Mark Cuban, but it could just as likely be the work of a Dallas fan with similarly strong feelings about Prokhorov and the Nets. The mystery adds a little more intrigue to the start of the NBA season at the end of the month, but fans will have to wait until March to see how the Nets and the Mavericks duke this one out on the court.
Most observers probably consider Old Spice's "Believe in Your Smellf" ad campaign to be a success. In the patented Old Spice tradition kicked off by the “Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ads, these spots have driven buzz on social media and clocked millions of YouTube views. But if you consider the ad campaign from a domain policy perspective, there have been a number of missed opportunities to further capitalize on this buzz to drive consumer engagement.
The primary faux pas came on the part of Wieden+Kennedy, the ad agency behind the campaign. The agency owns the domains Smellf.com and BelieveInYourSmellf.com, but isn't doing anything with them. Wieden+Kennedy clearly took the time to acquire the domains, but neither one resolves to a working website.
On the most popular social media sites, the agency doesn't appear to own any handles related to “Believe in Your Smellf” or “Smellf.” The “Smellf” username across Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter is owned, closed, and suspended, respectively. “BelieveInYourSmellf” is too many characters to be a Twitter username, but is still available on both Facebook and YouTube.
Considering its pedigree and size, Old Spice’s parent company Proctor & Gamble should have a formal domain policy in place. The bottom line is that Proctor & Gamble should own the domains associated with its product's ad campaign, and in this situation, they do not. A formal domain policy would help the company avoid situations like this, increase efficiency, and help Proctor & Gamble take all of the opportunities that this campaign presents. Should the company stop working with Wieden+Kennedy, it should make sure that it has the domain names in its own name.
Another issue is the non-use of the aforementioned domain names. Ideally, the sites would host content related to the "Believe in Your Smellf" campaign, but they should, at the very least, redirect to OldSpice.com. Social media pages should follow the same guidelines. YouTube.com/OldSpice is a popular, active channel, and if Proctor & Gamble doesn't want to divert traffic from that page, it should simply redirect YouTube.com/Smellf, which comes up as a "closed" page.
All companies should have an established, formal domain policy to prevent situations like this one. In order to protect their trademarks and brand reputations, companies must ensure that they own all relevant domains. Otherwise, they are susceptible to both cybersquatting and missed opportunities for both consumer engagement and customer conversion.
Pinterest, inarguably one of the fastest rising stars of the social media world this year (and the subject of a FairWinds Perspectives study this past spring), filed a comprehensive lawsuit against Chinese cybersquatter Qian Jin, citing a host of violations related to trademark infringement and cyberpiracy. The lawsuit, filed in a San Francisco court, accuses Qian of registering dozens of Pinterest-related domain names, using a number of different ccTLDs and misspellings of the Pinterest brand name, and attempting to trademark some of the names in both the United States and China.
The domains were registered over a six-month period in the second half of 2011, as Pinterest was just beginning to really hit its stride and gain widespread popularity. According to the lawyers for the Bay Area company, Pinterest is just the latest company in a long line of social networks that Qian has targeted. The lawsuit refers to Qian as a "serial cybersquatter who has registered and owns hundreds of infringing domain names," including some related to Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Foursquare.
The lawsuit seeks damages and an order preventing Qian or any associated parties from using the Pinterest name. Additionally, the company wants the trademark applications in U.S. courts for "Pinterest" and Pinterests" thrown out.
Although the practice of cybersquatting almost as old as the domain name system itself, squatters constantly seek new ways to capitalize on emerging trends or habits to make money. Cybersquatters like Qian, for example, are actively targeting rising tech companies that didn’t have the foresight to procure potentially valuable domain names when they first set up shop. This lawsuit will certainly be a lesson for Pinterest, as the company will want to ensure that they won't have to spend this amount of time or money on similar cases in the future.
Other brands, especially those with explosive success like Pinterest, should look at this as a cautionary tale. Keeping tabs on your domain portfolio from the outset will save you from having to go through legal battles to prevent opportunistic third parties from benefitting off of and potentially tarnishing your brand.
Given Qian’s history of cybersquatting and Pinterest's rights to the intellectual property in question, they should come out on top in this case, but legal battles like this are easily preventable with forward thinking.