Stay tuned for an announcement on Thursday afternoon… I am very excited about it and can’t wait to break it…
The saga of the domain name Nissan.com is fascinating. For years, Uzi Nissan and the automaker Nissan have fought several court battles for Nissan.com. In December of 2002, a court ruled that Uzi keeps the name but he cannot use the domain name for the following purposes:
“1. Posting Commercial content at nissan.com and nissan.net;
2. Posting advertising or permitting advertising to be posted by third parties at
nissan.com and nissan.net;
3. Posting disparaging remarks or negative commentary regarding Nissan Motor
Co., Ltd. or Nissan North America, Inc. at nissan.com and nissan.net;
4. Placing, on nissan.com or nissan.net, links to other websites containing
commercial content, including advertising; and
5. Placing, on nissan.com or nissan.net, links to other websites containing
disparaging remarks or negative commentary regarding Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.
or Nissan North America.” — Source: Nissan.com website
These restrictions essentially prevent Uzi from generating revenue from Nissan.com, causing him to solicit financial support to fend of Nissan in future legal battles. Basically for Uzi, owning Nissan.com is like owning a giant piece of land right next to an active diamond mine, but not being permitted to mine for diamonds. If he would want to sell this piece of real estate, he could potentially open himself up to a UDRP case.
The end goal of most domain investors is to sell their domain names to end users. I can’t think of a better end user for Nissan.com than the automaker. In my opinion, instead of Uzi’s public fight where he is forced to ask for donations to continue to stave off the far wealthier automaker, Uzi should have someone reach out to Nissan on his behalf and sell the name for a hefty sum. He might give up the rights to his domain name, but at this point, the name is worth FAR more to the automaker. This has become a battle of principles, and I believe Uzi might be smart to sell the domain name.
Instead of having to ask for donations, he will be able to give tzedekah and represent his family name and heritage in other ways.
NameJet, which launched yesterday, is a new company entering the competitive deleting domain acquisition area of the domain business. In a partnership with Network Solutions, NameJet will be responsible for acquiring and auctioning Network Solutions’ deleting domain names. According to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington,
“NSI, exercising a change in control termination clause, notified Snapnames/Oversee today that they were terminating their agreement and simultaneously launched Namejet with a rival registrar eNom (eNom is owned by Demand Media).” – Source: TechCrunch
This development was reported on Jay Westerdahl’s blog on October 1st. His report included information about a trademark application made by Network Solutions for NameJet.
It looks like starting the Snapnames Seller Program was a smart move for Snapnames, but I hope they don’t lose their active bidder audience, which is the reason I personally listed many names with Snap. So far, I have had success with the program, and I must say their customer service is fantastic.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), a non-profit association created to stop various domain name abuses, has responded to the Internet Commerce Association’s (ICA) 8 point member Code of Conduct. The code was created to promote industry best practices to all domain owners in order to maintain ethical business practices. CADNA is most concerned with the points related to infringement upon other companies’ trademarks, as their membership is comprised of some of the largest companies in the world, including, AIG, Dell, Marriott, Yahoo, Verizon, and several others.
CADNA’s response includes three additions to help enhance the code of conduct. Their suggestions include:
“First, ICA members should oppose domain name tasting (not just kiting), and using a third party’s brand, or other trademark misuses, without permission. Such actions should be avoided altogether, even if the name is registered for less than five days.Secondly, ICA members will not monetize (serve ads) on behalf of their third party customers’ domains that infringe upon brand names without explicit permission of the trademark holder. This commitment includes agreeing not to register domains that are confusingly similar to brands.
Lastly, ICA members who are registrars will not taste domain names themselves, and they will not wait for ICANN to establish a policy to uphold their fiduciary obligations to the public.”(Source: CADNA Press Release)
As a Professional Member of the ICA, I agree with all of their points. In the past, I bought non-infringing names before dropping them within the 5 days, but that wasn’t to test traffic. I did it when I first started in the business to try and take a $7 registration to flip it for $25 a couple of days later. I don’t think this is particularly harmful, but since many people use the loophole to quickly test traffic on potential trademark names, I don’t see the harm in closing it.
I don’t believe a domain owner should have the right to own a clear and undisputed trademark domain name. In my opinion, nobody except Verizon has the right to own a domain name like VerizonMobilePhones.com except for Verizon.
The most difficult situation is determining when a domain name clearly infringes upon someone else’s trademark. Just because a domain name happens to have the letters “aig” and “insurance” in them, doesn’t necessarily mean it is infringing on AIG’s brand trademark. For example, AIGInsurance.com would clearly be an infringing domain name; however, PaigeInsurance.com, a NH-based insurance company run by the Paige Family, would not infringe simply because it has “aig” and “insurance” in its domain name.
One point of interest related to this press release is the lack of actual press it seems to have received. When CADNA was created a couple of months ago, I read news articles everywhere. My Google Reader sent me PR notices from tens of news outlets throughout the world. For this press release, I didn’t hear about it until 4 days after the release, and had someone not posted it in one of the forums, I wouldn’t have seen it at all (Thanks to Josh Melamed for posting it on Rick’s Forum!)
Back in the 1980s when the US economy was facing tough times and the dollar was weak against Asian currency, the Japanese swooped in and purchased a tremendous amount of New York City real estate. They realized that they could buy valuable real estate at a fraction of the real value. Once the dollar rebounded in the 1990s and US investors like Donald Trump began buying it back, many Japanese real estate investors made a fortune. With the recent currency woes facing the US dollar against the Euro and Canadian dollar, I believe we may see the same thing happen to domain name assets. Foreign investors now have the advantage of stronger currencies against the the US dollar, and they can afford to go on a domain spending spree.People may counter this theory by saying that because PPC payouts are made in US dollars it wouldn’t be a good deal for foreign investors to buy domain names. Do these people think that when the Mitsubishi Estate Company of Japan bought the Rockefeller Building in New York City, rent was paid to them in Yen? I am sure rent was paid in US dollars, and they were happy to buy this US property jewel at a discount.While the Euro is strongest against the US dollar, I don’t believe Europeans will be the most active buyers. There are too many European extensions that are popular (.uk and .de for example), so they may not take full advantage of the discounted US prices.I believe the spending spree will start north of the border in Canada. Some of the most prolific domain investment companies reside in Vancouver, British Columbia. Since Canada is so close to the US and .com names are certainly common in Canada, I predict the Canadians will be the biggest buyers of domain names while the dollar is weak. For the first time in 31 years, the Canadian dollar is on par with the US dollar, and it has grown 62% since 2002. Canadians are proud that their economy seems to be outperforming the economy of their US counterparts. What better way to show their economic advantage than buying property? Instead of just a real estate boom, I foresee a virtual real estate boom, and our friends north of the border could be leading that charge.