Sunday, April 13, 2014

Did I Release a Big Fish Domain Name?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

I am releasing into the wild a domain name (TMCH.CO) that I have held for the past two years.  Below is my registration record from the WHOIS database:

Domain Registration Date:                    Wed Mar 14 23:01:33 GMT 2012
Domain Expiration Date:                      Thu Mar 13 23:59:59 GMT 2014
Domain Last Updated Date:                  Wed Mar 19 17:03:23 GMT 2014

TMCH is the acronym for the Trademark Clearinghouse. 

For those of you who have been in outer space, the wilderness or deep under water for the past few years the "Trademark Clearinghouse" (TMCH) is a rights protection mechanism developed and sponsored by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) which is the governing authority of the Internets naming and numbering system. Basically domain names.

Some of you did read my recent post titled Domaining 101:When to Fish or Cut Bait. I wanted to follow up on that post with a related post regarding why I am letting this particuar domain name (TMCH.CO) expire.
Sometimes a fisherman will let a seemingly valuable fish go back into the ocean and no one will understand why they did that. Or even more likely, no one else would have seen the release or even know that it happened. So for the record, I'm about to let what some may consider a big fish (domain name) go back into the ocean and I will give a brief explanation.

So there is a short answer and a more drawn out one.

The easy answer is that the domain name is missing the letter "m" in the name. That is it is not a .com name. It is a .co name. I have written on the continued value of .com names and the .com domination of the domain name marketplace and the Internet. You could find some of these posts here:

The Dot Com Paradigm
The Dot Com Firewall
Is Dot Com Dying a Thousand Deaths
The Dot Com Kingdom
One Thousand Splinternets

I should add that it's very likely that the following domain names could be worth a good deal of money on the open market (no, I do not own them).

TMCH.ORG (.org is of course for non-profit)

(I would hazard a guess that each name  could easily go for 6-7 figures on the open market. The TMCH and ICANN are both non-profit organizations so the .org could even be more valuable than the .com in this case.)

So why am I letting TMCH.CO go?

Because it isn't .com or .org.

How much is TMCH.CO worth on the open market?

Not very much and that is my whole point.

The truth is that TMCH.CO has been offered to nearly every major player in the Trademark Clearinghouse industry and most of them multiple times. There has been  level of interest in that domain name that borders somewhere below indifference. So I had to take a realistic view on what that domain name is really worth. In addition, the domain name has been freely available for each and every day of the past two years on a parked auction page. Anyone could have bid on the name at any given time over the past two years. How many bids did I receive during this period? Zero. Nada. None. Zilch. A pretty clear message to me.

Could the name eventually be worth something? Probably. Especially if a party invested the money and resources into advertising, marketing and brand building of this .co domain name.

Now, I'm sure that there are many .co domain names that hold value and some probably very valuable. In fact, the .co registry was recently sold to another party for over 100 million dollars.  

But there's part of me that feels like the zealous baseball fan who so readily throws the opponents home run baseball back onto the field as a form of protest and support for his own team. Maybe I'm rooting for .com just a bit too much.  Maybe I'm just a poor sport or a dot com fanatic.

However, in this case, It's quite easy for me to say that there is no demand for TMCH.CO and so I will gladly let it go.

So long TMCH.CO. I will miss you and watch you grow.

Have a good life. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Domain Name as a Computing Platform.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

I love Wikipedia and find the information to be remarkably helpful and accurate. I am interested in the idea of the domain name as a computing platform and did some rudimentary research on this. This is some of what Wikipedia has to say about computing platforms:

A computing platform is, in the most general sense, whatever pre-existing environment a piece of software is designed to run within, obeying its constraints, and making use of its facilities. Typical platforms include a hardware architecture, an operating system (OS) and runtime libraries.[1]
Binary executables have to be compiled for a specific hardware platform, since different central processor units have different machine codes. In addition, operating systems and runtime libraries allow re-use of code and provide abstraction layers which allow the same high-level source code to run on differently configured hardware. For example, there many kinds of data storage device, and any individual computer can have a different configuration of storage devices; but the application is able to call a generic save or write function provide by the OS and runtime libraries, which then handle the details themselves. A platform can be seen both as a constraint on the application development process — the application is written for such-and-such a platform — and an assistance to the development process, in that they provide low-level functionality ready-made.
Platforms may also include:
  • Hardware alone, in the case of small embedded systems. Embedded systems can access hardware directly, without an OS.
  • A browser in the case of web-based software. The browser itself runs on a hardware+OS platform, but this is not relevant to software running within the browser.[2]
  • An application, such as a spreadsheet or word processor, which hosts software written in an application-specific scripting language, such as an Excel macro. This can be extended to writing fully-fledged applications with the Microsoft Office suite as a platform.[3]
  • Software frameworks that provide ready-made functionality.
  • Cloud computing and Platform as a Service. Extending the idea of a software framework, these allow application developers to build software out of components that are hosted not by the developer, but by the provider, with internet communication linking them together.[4] The social networking sites Twitter and facebook are also considered development platforms.[5][6]
  • A virtual machine (VM) such as the Java virtual machine.[7] Applications are compiled into a format similar to machine code, known as bytecode, which is then executed by the VM.
  • A virtualized version of a complete system, including virtualized hardware, OS, software and storage. These allow, for instance, a typical windows program to run on what is physically a Mac.
Some architectures have multiple layers, with each layer acting as a platform to the one above it. In general, a component only has to be adapted to the layer immediately beneath it. For instance, a java program has to be written to use the java virtual machine (JVM) and associated libraries as a platform, but does not have to be adapted to run for the Windows, Linux or Macintosh OS platforms. However, the JVM, the layer beneath the application, does have to be built separately for each OS.[8]

Now for what Wikipedia says about the domain name system:

The Domain Name System (DNS) is a hierarchical distributed naming system for computers, services, or any resource connected to the Internet or a private network. It associates various information with domain names assigned to each of the participating entities. Most prominently, it translates easily memorized domain names to the numerical IP addresses needed for the purpose of locating computer services and devices worldwide. The Domain Name System is an essential component of the functionality of the Internet.
An often-used analogy to explain the Domain Name System is that it serves as the phone book for the Internet by translating human-friendly computer hostnames into IP addresses. For example, the domain name translates to the addresses (IPv4) and 2606:2800:220:6d:26bf:1447:1097:aa7 (IPv6). Unlike a phone book, the DNS can be quickly updated, allowing a service's location on the network to change without affecting the end users, who continue to use the same host name. Users take advantage of this when they use meaningful Uniform Resource Locators (URLs), and e-mail addresses without having to know how the computer actually locates the services.
The Domain Name System distributes the responsibility of assigning domain names and mapping those names to IP addresses by designating authoritative name servers for each domain. Authoritative name servers are assigned to be responsible for their supported domains, and may delegate authority over subdomains to other name servers. This mechanism provides distributed and fault tolerant service and was designed to avoid the need for a single central database.
The Domain Name System also specifies the technical functionality of this database service. It defines the DNS protocol, a detailed specification of the data structures and data communication exchanges used in DNS, as part of the Internet Protocol Suite.
The Internet maintains two principal namespaces, the domain name hierarchy[1] and the Internet Protocol (IP) address spaces.[2] The Domain Name System maintains the domain name hierarchy and provides translation services between it and the address spaces. Internet name servers and a communication protocol implement the Domain Name System.[3] A DNS name server is a server that stores the DNS records for a domain name, such as address (A or AAAA) records, name server (NS) records, and mail exchanger (MX) records (see also list of DNS record types); a DNS name server responds with answers to queries against its database.

So would you say that a domain name is a computing platform?

I would. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Domaining 101: To Fish or Cut Bait?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

As a long time domain name investor I'm constantly reminded of the valuable process of "fishing and cutting bait" with my own domain portfolio and specific domain names. It really is a constant process of culling, cultivating and enhancing the portfolio. Particularly when a specific domain name comes up for expiration or renewal.

A definition from Wikipedia of my favorite colloquialism is below:

Fish or cut bait is a common English language colloquial expression, dating back to the 19th-century United States, that advises for swift decision-making (to act or not to act), and cautions against procrastination and/or indecisiveness. The meaning of the expression has expanded over time and can be interpreted in a number of different ways depending on the context. 

Thinking about this healthy process got me to thinking about other popular colloquialisms that are often bandied about business circles and relate to the business world and everyday life.

(By the way, I had to look up colloquialism myself for this definition): 

plural noun: colloquialisms
a word or phrase that is not formal or literary, typically one used in ordinary or familiar conversation.

Here is a list that I found of more traditional colloquialisms from

Many of these expressions are I'm sure "older than the hills" (5th from bottom). However I would say in most cases truer than ever. ( have cut the ones from this list that are less applicable to business practices)

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link
A diamond is forever
A fate worse than death
A fly in the ointment
A friend in need is a friend indeed
A good man is hard to find
A leopard cannot change its stripes

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing
A nest of vipers
A picture is worth a thousand words
A piece of the action
A pig in the poke
A pound of flesh
A sight for sore eyes
All that glitters is not gold
All the worlds a stage
Alls well that ends well

Caught between a hard place and a rock
Come hell or high water
Dead as a doornail
Drop in the bucket

Dumb as a box of rocks
Dumb as a rock

Half hearted
Has the cat got your tongue?
Heard it through the grapevine
Hell in a handbasket
In a pickle
Its raining cats and dogs
Keep your friends close and your enemies closer
Law of the land
Let the cat out of the bag
Life is like a box of chocolates
Lifes too short
Like a chicken with its head cut off
Like a fart in a whirlwind
Like a moth to a flame

Like two peas in a pod
Living on borrowed time
Long in the tooth
Loose lips sink ships
Lose your marbles
Mad as a hatter
Make no bones about it
Mind your Ps and Qs
My cup of tea
My minds eye
Old as the hills

Stubborn as a mule
Stupid is as stupid does
The left hand doesnt know what the right hand is doing.

To "fish or cut bait" is not on this particular list. However, it is a process that I have used quite consistently with my own domain name portfolio  over fifteen- plus years of domain name investing. Generally, my domain portfolio has  fluctuated somewhere around five hundred names during most of this time. With my total domain name purchases being upwards of 10,000 total names to date.

How did I do that when my current portfolio numbers only around a few hundred domain names?

Buying, selling, trading, holding and letting many thousands of domain names expire. 

"Fishing and cutting bait"

As for my continued domain investing strategy. To date I have run my domain name business solely as a break even proposition.  Regularly buying domain names and letting others expire at the same time. Any profits were reinvested. A zero sum game. Basically no profits and no losses either.

So what is the end game?  

The end game is a refined domain name investing strategy that it took me 15 years to develop.

That is invaluable. 


Friday, March 28, 2014

Common Law Trademarks or "Usemarks."

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

I'm not an attorney and I don't play one on the Internet. However, I have to admit it's kind of fun to play desktop attorney and write about whatever I want. That being said, this is a column about common law trademarks. Some are probably questioning why I use the term "usemarks" in my title. The easy answer is that common law trademarks are sometimes called first use marks.  This additional information comes from the website:

"What are "common law trademark" rights:

Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark.  Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.

Common law trademarks are of particular interest to me as I have owned upwards of ten thousand domain names through the years. In addition, I have certainly obtained common law trademark rights with many of the names through the use of the domain names and product/company names in commerce.

Let me start by mentioning that Yahoo recently spent about a billion dollars for a company called Tumblr.  CEO Marissa Mayer suggesting that 75% of that cost was for the social blogging site's "cachet" with the young trendy set. In Yahoo's quarterly report filed this week Yahoo revealed that  $752 million of Tumblr's value is "goodwill."

What exactly is Ms. Meyer referring to? Clearly she is referring to something that is far removed from the Tumblr tangible assets, contracts, software etc?  If that is the case- then were talking about a non-quantifiable asset that is valued at $752 million by Marissa Mayer!  Am I the only one that finds that interesting?

So is Marissa Myer referring to the Tumblr brand? The Tumbler brand that is of course protected by the Tumbler trademarks?

There are of course federally registered trademarks on Tumblr. However, what if there wasn't?  Is there  a chance that the Tumblr brand and "cachet" would be just as valuable at this point in the companies life?

Federally registered trademarks are of course enormously important and are critical to the smooth functioning of our worldwide intellectual property system. One of the most valuable mechanisms resulting from the Federally registered marks  are important procedural advantages in court, such as a presumption of validity for a plaintiff’s trademark.

But (like most of us) what if you don't have a federally or multinationally registered trademark? Where do you stand (legally) with the use of your business/service name in commerce?

Here's some information you might find interesting regarding ICANNs Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) and their position regarding common law trademarks:

Nearly all of the discussions regarding ICANNs newly launched "Trademark Clearinghouse" have been regarding registered trademarks. However, it's important to note that "Common Law" trademarks are eligible for the TMCH as well.

Also keep in mind that inclusion of any trademark in the "Trademark Clearinghouse" is a rights protection mechanism in and of itself. From the Trademark Clearinghouse site:

The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) is the most important rights protection mechanism built into ICANN’s new gTLD program. Its' a centralized database of verified trademarks, that is connected to each and every new gTLD that will launch.

From the TMCH website regarding court validated marks:

Court validated marks refer to a mark that has been validated by a court of law or other judicial
proceeding at the national level, such as unregistered (common law) marks and/or well-known
marks. In the case of a mark validated by judicial proceedings, the judicial authority must have existed as a competent jurisdiction as of the date of the order or judgment. Any referenced authority must have the indicia of authenticity and must on its face confer the specified rights (i.e., the documentation must be sufficient to show validation of the mark without the need for the Clearinghouse to consult outside resources).

And now from the USPTO (United States Patent and Trademark Office)  website:

What are "common law" rights?:

Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark.  Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.

From Wikipedia:

...An unregistered mark may still receive common law trademark rights. Those rights, for example, may extend to its area of influence—usually delineated by geography. As such, multiple parties may simultaneously use a mark throughout the country or even state. An unregistered mark may also be protected under the federal "Lanham Act" (15 USC § 1125) prohibition against commercial misrepresentation of source or origins of goods. Unregistered marks are also protectable in the United States under Lanham Act §43(a).


Trademark rights arise in the United States from the actual use of the mark. Thus, if a product is sold under a brand name, common law trademark rights have been created. This is especially true once consumers view the brand name as an indicator the product's source. Federal registration is not required to establish rights in a trademark.  Common law rights arise from actual use of a mark and may allow the common law user to successfully challenge a registration or application.


Common law and Lanham Act protections afforded to unregistered trademarks provide a wealth of remedies since they are premised on use rather than registration.

Also, from that site:

In the United States, protection is available
for unregistered marks under common law
and the federal statute known as the
Lanham Act (§ 43(a)(1), 15 USC § 1125(a)(1)
(1989)). The owner of a valid but
unregistered mark can seek recourse against
the copyist in state and federal courts.


Common law and federal law provide the
owner of unregistered trademark rights with
bases for remedies to infringement.

This is from

Many businesses and individuals do not know that trademark rights arise not only from registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, but from simply use of a trademark in connection with goods or services.  These rights, or common law trademark rights as they are known to lawyers, come from the continuous prior use of a mark in commerce.  But common law trademark rights are not preferred, as they extend only to the places where a trademark has been used in commerce.  Additionally, they do not offer the benefits of federal registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, such as the ability to recover profits, statutory damages, attorneys fees, treble (triple) damages for willful infringement, national priority, and the right to use the ® to give notice of rights in a mark.

This is from (Legal Services National Technology Assistance Project)

According to case law:
  • A party may obtain a common-law trademark or service mark on any terms it uses in commerce, though absent federal registration, common-law status generally limits its protection the geographic area in which the term was used. Accordingly, to bring a claim under the Lanham Act, federal registration is not required, “but the scope of any common law rights vindicated would be limited to areas where the mark is in use.”
Just some information to keep in mind when you register or use a particular domain name for business, service or a product  in commerce. Attorneys will generally recommend the Federally registered mark for the maximum protection.  But keep in mind that a strongly established common law trademark or "usemark" can also serve as a deterrent to abusive practices by other parties.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Are You "Old School Internet"?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Maybe all of the discussions this past week about the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web has caused me to wax nostalgic. Whatever the case,  I have recently concluded that I do very much long for the halcyon days of the early Internet.  What I like to call "old school  Internet".

From Urban Dictionary
"Anything that is from an earlier era and looked upon with high regard or respect." 

Maybe it was my rather uninspiring standoff with the 20 something salesman at the cellular store over the merits (or lack thereof) of the latest smartphone  that lead me to relegate myself to the  "old school Internet" category.  Maybe it is my affinity for the early days of the Internet when you had  .com, .net and .org and that's all anyone ever wanted or needed.

 Maybe I'm old fashioned or maybe I'm just a technology resister.  I'm  stuck in the Internet of 1998 and quite happy to be there.  What do I believe are some of the "classic" symptoms of the "old school  Internet" syndrome:

  • I don't have a smartphone and have no interest in one. In fact my stone-age flip phone seems to serve me just fine. 
  • I don't text and have never texted. Have never had a need to.  (I do understand the convenience and efficiency aspect of it. If something pushes me over the edge to become a "reluctant adopter" that will be it.)
  • I don't do Facebook or any other social media. Never have. Don't plan to. 
  • I don't do gaming systems. 
  • I don't do downloads.
  • I don't do wearable technologies or apps. 
  • I have the minimum amount of technology for what I need to do. That amounts to my (circa 2003) HP laptop computer hard lined to the wall of course.  No need for wifi.
Not to worry if anyone is thinking that I'm up here in the northern hemisphere living an Amish-like type of existence.  I do spend a good deal of time on the Internet. You have to if you want to run an Internet business.  Like the notorious bank robber Willie Sutton famously once said when asked why he robbed banks and responded "that's where the money is." 

Of course, I know that there is a distinct chance that I am just a late adopter. Part of the latest raft of historys'  long line of late adopters. Whether involving the automobile,  television, microwave or the Internet itself. The folks who came to the party late and most likely were dragging their feet the whole way.

However, I am also reminded of the tales of the old time loggers in the northern forests who still cut their trees with a hand saw and use work horses to haul them out. Doing their jobs quite happily and efficiently. In a way that suits their purposes.

I kind of like the sound of that. 

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Dot Com Paradigm.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo defines paradigm as a: 

aframework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.
b. such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

So what is the "dot com paradigm"

The dot com paradigm is this:

"All domain name extensions are and will continue to be adjuncts to .com." 

What do I mean by adjuncts?


[aj-uhngkt] Show IPA
something added to another thing but not essential to it.

So I wanted to present some of my thoughts on what I'm calling "the dot com paradigm" in this blog post. However, as I've often noticed, many good ideas are often swirling around the Internet at the same time. I've posted credit to my counterpart at the end of this blog. But, first I wanted to mention a few things.

I've written extensively regarding the continued  .com  domination of all domain extensions and the Internet. You can read some of the posts here:

or here:

or here: 

or here:

However the design of this post has more to do with the rest of the domain name extensions.  To show how the new domain extensions will fall neatly in line behind the .com behemoth.

This table of (global top level) domain registrations is from the (Whois Source) Domain Counts and Internet Statistics Website.

gTLD Overview for March 01, 2014

All New Deleted Transferred TLD
149,171,743 159,905 127,352 160,569 All TLDs
113,105,456 124,147 94,711 125,785 .COM
15,267,470 14,542 12,838 15,366 .NET
10,453,473 10,179 8,365 9,108 .ORG
5,790,637 6,236 7,269 6,032 .INFO
2,679,999 2,448 2,414 3,033 .BIZ
1,874,708 2,353 1,755 1,245 .US

This table of course does not include country code domain names, the new native language character set names,  and new gTLD domain extensions such as .guru and .holdings.

 Not to mention the upwards of 1300 new domain name extensions that are in the process of being released onto the global marketplace. That list is here:

It's clear to see the patterns that are evident in the current domain registration paradigm from the above table. There are over 113 million .com domain names registered and .net is in second place with just over 15 million. One tenth of the registrations of .com.

Will any of the new extensions ultimately challenge .com for dominance in the domain name marketplace?


Some think that one of these extentions or even another could challenge .com and unseat the extension from its lofty perch above the Internet.  However, it's not likely and the reason is that all of the new extensions are going to be adjuncts to .com in one way or another.  Just as previous domain extenstions have been as such.

Now for the credit for my counterpart.

Below are examples of the types of "adjunct uses" that I see for the (upwards of 1300) new domain extensions as they are rolled out over the upcoming years: 

3:00PM GMT 28 Feb 2014

"As the internet continues to develop new features, many companies plan to set up their own apps, blogs and wikis - so obtaining their own .app, .blog and .wiki domains is a logical step. The .feedback and .contact domains will also provide an intuitive address for particular web pages."

"The era of the singular 'web identity' is over," said Crawford. "As companies increasingly recognise the internet as the single largest source of new customers, even small businesses have moved beyond the position of buying one domain name for their website." 

I couldn't have said it better.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Domain Names As Phone Numbers?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Are "Phonames" next?

There is an interesting news piece that appeared in media outlets around the Internet on January 30, 2014 titled:
"U.S. Seeks trials to test transition to digital phone networks"

The news article talks about how "U.S. wireless providers like AT&T Inc and Verizon Communications Inc on Thursday received a nod from regulators to test a transition of the telephone industry away from traditional analog networks to digital ones."

(also how)

"The Federal Communications Commission unanimously voted in favor of trials, in which telecommunications companies would test switching telephone services from existing circuit-switch technology to an alternative Internet protocol-based one to see how the change may affect consumers."

Now what does that article have to do with Internet domain names you might ask?

The answer may be in my blog post dated May 16, 2013 titled:

"Alternative Uses For Internet Domain Names"

That post is here:
In that (May 2013) blog post I'm referring to a 2006 prospectus that I wrote and remains on file at the University of Maines' Target Technology Incubator. The prospectus is in regards to a project describing utilizing Internet domain names for VOIP (voice over Internet Protocol) over the DNS (Domain Name System):

Two excerpts from that (May 2013) blog (that are actually from my 2006 prospectus) are here:

...the establishment of a private, secure, proprietary 1.) Domain Name Registry 2.) VOIP Communications and 3.) Mobile Platform Network that is a new use for existing technologies that will be widely adopted and allow for tight integration of VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and DNS (Domain Name System) technologies. This will be a closed private network utilizing proprietary domain name system and registry technologies and proprietary mobile platform that will be VOIP enabled.

Rather than using telephone numbers, it will capitalize on a private (domain name) registry that provides a proprietary/private domain extension. The user will select an alpha numeric (domain name) that will replace the telephone number and be used on the  secure network. The user will be able to select their own personalized (domain name)  that will ultimately become as popular as email addresses and telephone numbers. The proprietary mobile platform and domain name registry (with proprietary extension) will also be available for license to cellphone/mobile providers.

So, back to the aforementioned article regarding a transtion from traditional analog networks to digital (Internet) networks.  

Did Federal regulators just move us all one step closer to  my 2006 prediction of VOIP communicatons over the DNS (Domain Name System) and using domain names as phone numbers?  

As I have mentioned before, I am not a technologist, programmer, it specialist or anything of the like. So I really don't have the slightest idea how the technology aspect would work in the real world. Some people would say that I know just enough to be dangerous. However, I did find at least one person who was thinking along similar lines. This was posted on another site two weeks ago regarding the next step technology to pull this off.

The post is titled "Domain Names As Phone Numbers":

Given the recent developments in open web VOIP and P2P communications in web browsers:
Could a system be created where users can buy a domain name — like buying a SIM card for their phone — and, should they choose to, have limited hosting space with an WebRTC application (here’s the source code) automatically installed so they can make and receive calls to their domain name?
The phone directory would be any web search engine.
Remember, the web is agreement.

That post is here: 

Also, if  any of you are thinking at this point that this is all pure craziness -I wanted to mention that this (VOICE over DNS) has all been done experimentally before. You will find some of that information here:

In closing,  I would add that there are likely still some regulatory hurdles to overcome regarding my "dream scenario" of using Internet domain names as phone numbers. In fact, the last I knew using VOIP over the DNS would be frowned upon by the FCC.  However, the new FCC trials regarding potentially switching to digital (Internet Protocol) telephone networks may be more of a harbinger of things to come than anyone can imagine.

That is until now.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Did the Trademark Clearinghouse Commit a Faux Pas?

Duane J. Higgins, ceo

I was roaming around the Internet the other day and discovered an interesting occurrence as far as potential trademark infringement goes. There is an organization called "The Clearinghouse" that has apparently functioned in some capacity since 1853. According to their website they are involved in financial payment systems and "The Clearing House payment systems clear and settle more than 65 million transactions with a total value of $2 trillion each day." The organization uses the domain name as their website address. 

So, as many know there is also (ICANNs) Trademark Clearinghouse which (according to their website) is designed to accomplish the following:

The Trademark Clearinghouse is a one-stop-solution for protecting your brand in the new gTLD era. This centralized database of verified trademarks connects to every of the more than 1,000 new TLDs that will be launching, to protect your brand...

You can of course read all of the information that your like on the TMCH website which they advertise is located at

So what caught my attention with the potential trademark infringement by the (ICANNs) Trademark Clearinghouse is that they have also purchased and are using the following domain name to promote their (TMCH) website:

So is this trademark infringement?  Is the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)  infringing on the long established usage (trademark) of "The Clearinghouse" that processes financial payments?

The strongest argument is that the competing domain names (usages) are very similar. See below for  comparison:

I certainly don't have the answers as far as any real potential legal (infringement) issues go. 

Maybe it was just a slow day in the blogosphere for me.

However, I did find this interesting.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Great Domain Flood of 2014.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Will (ICANNs) pouring of upwards of 1300 new gTLDs (domain name extensions) onto the open marketplace have the effect of devaluing domain names? Will the billions of new domain name possibilities available disincentivize domain name investing? Those are two big questions that domain name investors and buyers and sellers alike have been wrestling with as we witness this massive/unprecedented expansion of the domain name system.

ICANN's main argument for flooding the marketplace with the new domain name extensions (to upwards of 1300 new extensions this round) from the current 22 was to create more choice for consumers of domain names. To make domain name ownership more accessible. More available. More reasonably priced. The common argument had to do with all of the good domain names (of existing extensions) already being taken.

However, as if often the case some funny things happen along the way of the path to good intentions. I had already started writing this blog post when another blog post appeared today titled:

"What if Domain Investors Buy the Good gTLD domain names?" 

It's a good article and I think that Mr. Silver is probably right.

It is likely true that most of the good domain names of the new extensions will be taken by investors, and trademark and tradename owners. That will still leave alot of names. However, ICANN could end up in the exact same situation that they started before the onslaught of new extensions. With limited choice of freely available names for domain name buyers as time goes on. And so goes the law of supply and demand and the prices of the good names (with the new gTLDs) will go up, and up and up over time.

I have a few other points that I would like to make. I did hear an argument early on that ICANN was hoping to a "dis-incentivize" domain investing or even de-value domain names to a certain extent. The analogy would be to make the commodity of domain names similar to vanity telephone numbers or vanity license plate numbers. Where you might be a slight increase in cost for preferred combinations, however not that exorbitant prices that have been attached to alot of domain name sales to date.

There are a few other interesting things happening along with the release of the gTLDs that I wanted to mention.

First of all the prices of the existing gTLDs  and ccTLDs are basically holding up. I don't have numbers to back that up. However I base that on observation. There are still a significant number of 5 and 6 figure sales of existing gTLDs each week. Values (prices) are not going down. If so, not much.

If anyone thought that the process of "flooding the market" with the new domain extensions would devalue the existing extensions or the new extensions that does not appear to be happening either. If any intention was to dis-incentivize investors from investing in domain names (such as the new extensions) that is not happening. If devaluation does happen, the normal economic process if that even if the values/prices do go down temporarily they are likely to go back up over time. That is the law of supply and demand. Look at land values over time in just about any location throughout the world. Too much land and the prices go down. As demand increases the prices go up. That will happen to nearly all of the new (and old) gTLDs that survive.

The prices of all of the new gTLDs that survive will likely go up over time and likely from the starting levels. People buy what they want to buy and they pay what they want to pay. This is happening in the housing market right now and the prices are going up. Everytime that someone overpays for a particularly domain name that they want the overall market (for that extension) will rise and the values of many other domain names will go up as well.

So I do agree with Mr. Silver and his article that domain name investors are going to take the day when it comes to the new gTLDs.  Domain names are basically low hanging fruit. Domain name investing is too temping with the prospect of registering a domain name for a relatively small amount with the potential for significant appreciation and sometimes wild appreciation of the asset.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The New gTLDs: Individualization vs. Industrialization.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

There are countless prevailing factors that are going to influence the relative success or failure of the new domain name extensions that are being rolled out over the next few years. I would like to focus on one of the key trends trends that I think will develop and that is the idea of individualization vs. industrialization.  The definitions I would like to use are the following:

to make individual or distinctive; give an individual or distinctive character to.

Industrialization: the large-scale introduction of manufacturing, advanced technical enterprises, and other productive economic activity into an area, society, country, etc.
To illustrate my point I would like to take a look at the  early stage success of the .guru extension which I believe could foreshadow a  major trend that will develop over the  next few years.  First of all, .guru has potentially large market to start. That is a head start for the domain extension. Several other names will have the same promise such as .mail, .web and .free and many others.

We do have .guru which is being viewed by many as a very successful launch already with over 30,000   registrations and counting in the first days of the it's existence. Dozens of other extensions have been released as well (such as .ventures and .holdings) to somewhat lesser degrees of success to date.

First of all, the .guru extension is relatively short.  I believe you will see this trend continue as the new gTLD extensions are rolled out. Of course, short (second level) domain names have always been preferred by the masses.  But what we have now with all of the new top level extensions is that many of them are not as short as previously released extensions which have generally remained between two and four characters. We now have the .events, .cruises, .flights, .rentals, .partners .ventures,.holdings etc, etc,. etc, which many of the 1300 new extensions are longer than the 2-4 characters. This is an attempt to change the paradigm of the public's relationship to domain names that the public may be less interested in. As I mentioned, shorter second level (names) have always been preferred and the new longer extensions are going to make is more difficult to use the same types of names (that people like) with the new longer extensions as the overall names will be longer. I have found that people like short personalized domain names but not generally too short. They want room to express themselves. To the left of the dot. Short extensions best allow for this so the overall name doesn't become too long. 

The complicating factor for the new (longer) extensions is that for the most part, the domain name on the left side of the dot (second level domain) has been more important to the public than the name on the right side of the dot.  The reason is of course that the name to the left of the dot is the primary "identifier" for the user. The name on the left of the dot of course is created by the user. The name to the right is not.

See definition below:


An identifier is a name that identifies (that is, labels the identity of) either a unique object or a unique class of objects.

People/companies/entitites identify with the name that they create. With the name of their company, enterprise or website. The name is them. They are the name. The name is special. The name is individual. Very personal.  The name to the left of the dot. 

It's the artists' brush vs. the palette. 

It's the artist vs. the medium. 

Which is more important?

So what about the right of the dot you ask?

First of all let me ask you. Is the right of the dot personal?

No, the right of the dot is categorical. The right of the dot is industrial. "an advanced technological enterprise" from my definition above. Not very personal.

The right of the dot is the secondary identifier.  The right of the dot is not individualized or personalized. The right of the dot represents a category of sites or names. The right side of the dot represents a commodity. The right side of the dot represents the industrialization of the Internet.

Not very romantic if you ask me. 

If my theory is correct. The short domain extensions that have wider potential target market (for example  .book, .blog, .free, .shop, .mail, .web and a few others) have the best chance of success and widespread usage.

Longer domain extensions with more limited target markets may struggle as they have a double whammy. 

Double whammy: An English expression meaning multiple (or a combination of) negative circumstances, events, or effects.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Dot Com Firewall.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

In computing terms, firewall has many definitions.  In history, the term firewall originally referred to a wall intended to confine a fire or potential fire within a building. In domaining terms, what I'm referring to is the practice of registering the .com version of a domain name which can effectively quash incentive for anyone to register any other version of that particular name.

The fact is that there are several practical advantages and inherent rights protections that are in play that are built into the fabric of owning and using a .com domain name for business purposes. 

Is owning the .com version (and using the name in commerce) of a particular domain name a rights protection strategy unto itself that you could employ.  Even possibly equal to or better than a registered trademark?

First of all, as far as your intellectual property rights are concerned. If you own a .com domain name and you use it in commerce you have very likely established common law trademark rights to that name.

According  the the USPTO-  "businesses automatically receive common law trademark rights in the normal course of commerce."

Common law trademarks are something that I like to call a "usemarks." 


The term "common law" indicates that the trademark rights that are developed through use are not governed by statute. Instead, common law trademark rights have been developed under a judicially created scheme of rights governed by state law. Federal registration, a system created by federal statute, is not required to establish common law rights in a mark, nor is it required to begin use of a mark. 

Now if course, registered trademarks are usually more powerful than common law trademarks. However, not necessarily and there is case law to prove that.

My main point has to do with the inherent value of owning the .com version of your domain name or website.

First of all this is the definition of "inherent" from


[in-heer-uhnt, -her-] Show IPA
existing in someone or something as a permanent and inseparable element, quality, or attribute: an inherent distrust of strangers.

Here are a few related points:
If you own the .com version of a name, the name is not likely (highly unlikely) trademarked  by another party. The reasons are that if the name were trademarked by another entity you likely would have never been able to register it- or you would have already been asked to cease using it.  Either by court order or less formally. Either way you would know that there is an issue with the use of the name.  There are too many rights protections mechanisms in place with the domain registries and with ICANN right off the bat. (see Trademark Clearinghouse) for one. Also, you would have likely gotten tripped up with improper usage of the name if there were any conflicts. The high likelihood is that the business that owns the registered trademark would also have likely already purchased the .com version of the name. 

If you use the name for trade/commerce then you have likely already engendered "common law" trademark rights which are actually significant. However, not likely as powerful as a State or Federally (USPTO) registered trademark. However, the "common law" mark could trump them all based on prior use and if it is a "strong" mark. (see usemarks)

The fact is that if you own the .com version of a domain name, no other party is likely to register the name with another extension and use it for business purposes. Let me give you an example. Lets say you own the domain name Just made that domain name up and it is currently unregistered. So for my example, what if someone registered that domain name and used it for commerce. They would likely have soon established common law trademark rights as well as developed a business brand with that name. What if the chance of someone then going out and registering say or Trinexia.anything and trying to use it for businesss? They would be foolish to use that name. They may infringe your common law trademark. They may create a confusingly similar business name which is no benefit to them.

So part of the inherent value of owning the .com version of your domain name is that it effectively can serve as an unofficial "trademark block" of sorts to further registrations. Why would someone else waste their good money on another extension when you own the .com? They might and you might sue them. They might register another version of your .com name and if they use the name in commerce (in violation of your common law trademark) they will probably send traffic and customers to your site business. They might try to trademark the name after you are already using the .com version in commerce and they will lose in arbitration.

So back to my main point regarding the value of owning the .com version of a good domain name that doesn't infringe on another parties registered trademark, trade name or usemark. You can take the dot whatever.  I'll take my .com domain name into battle any day of the week.

I call that my firewall.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Rebirth of of Dot Biz. (Part I)

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

There is a massively underutilized resource that has been languishing in the back alleys of the Internet for the last 13 years. That resource is the .biz top-level domain name extension and it may be poised for explosive growth (finally). 

Below is a small chart of registered top-level domain names to date:

From dated Feb. 1, 2014

TLD Overview for February 01, 2014

All New Deleted Transferred TLD
148,562,332 131,782 111,530 216,922 All TLDs
112,561,214 98,361 80,458 176,743 .COM
15,234,841 12,745 11,598 15,966 .NET
10,419,443 8,509 6,603 9,465 .ORG
5,826,055 7,059 9,023 9,869 .INFO
2,660,044 2,948 2,200 3,307 .BIZ
1,860,735 2,160 1,648 1,572 .US

 Just to summarize. That's 2.5 million .biz registrations compared to 112 million .com registrations.  Or just over 2% percent for .biz compared to the .com giant. In other words, there are millions and millions of good .biz domain names unregistered and there for the picking if someone were to find a use for them. The same can not be said for any of the other TLD extensions. Dot info (.info) is the closest you will get with the same low numbers however .info clearly has an established target market or brand identity (information).

There's a famous saying that goes something like "what's new is old and whats old is new."  I have heard this phrase many times however never expected to see it come to roost squartly on the shoulders of the domain name industry.  Especially, with the impending release of upwards of 1000 new domain extensions onto the global marketplace. What would you say if I told you that very possibly the next blockbuster domain extension has been in existence since  2001. That the next wildly successful domain extension has been sitting nearly idly with no significant identity or branding success since 2001.

Of all the previously released top level domain extensions- .biz is probably the one that has been the most battered and bruised. If you listen to many of the prognosticators you will likely conclude that .biz is undoubtedly on life support if not already deceased. This extension has actually been lingering around the Internet since 2001 with very little fanfare or attention.

What if I told you that I had three words could launch the .biz extension to a rebirth and possibly even a prominent role in the Internet  economy?

What if I told you that the three words are "mobile based business."

With the rebranding of .biz to the home/mobile based business extension.  I'll post the remarkably simple formula here:

Low End Phones +Handsets + Low End Tablets+ Home/Mobile/Based Business opportunities+ .Biz extension= An Internet Revolution?

So, why .biz?

1.) Because its a relatively unused and untapped resource (many good domain names left).
2.) Dot biz is an established extension. Infrastructure and registrars are fully in place. Just underutilized.
3.) The extension is a natural for this use. (short, memorable and already established).
3.) The extension really doesn't have a specific brand established. Narrowing the focus (to this unlimited market or mobile based business) could have immediate and revolutionary results. Rebranding .biz as the mobile based business extension would be an easy coup for the registry.

By the way, I have read recently that we now have more mobile devices connected to the Internet than we have people in the world. Or we very soon will. (I don't have an exact count). That's a pretty large target market.

How could the next Behemoth (i.e. monster) domain extension be sitting so quietly and innocently on the shelf right in front of our eyes? The answer is simple. The timing has not been right. That is until now.

First of all here are the catalysts for this new domain extension boom.

1.) The mobilization of the masses across the globe. From Tokyo to Timbucktu everyone is getting online. There is now an ease of entry to almost anyone to get online, get engaged and make money. All you need is a handset. That's a low barrier.

2.) Low end mobile devices are taking the world by storm. Take a look at all of the mobile companies. From Google to Nokia to Samsung and even Blackberry. They are all getting on board in a big way with low end phones, smartphones and tablets. The potential target markets are massive, profitable and easily cultivated through viral marketing.

3.) Business opportunity models that capitalize on these trends (of everyone owning a mobile device and being connected to the Internet) are in a position to dictate another wave of Internet engagement and commerce. In a way that hasn't been done before.

Mobile Based Business can be the great equalizer for economic inequality in our society.

Are you listening Mr. Obama?

The ventures/companies/organizations that capitalize on these trends will be big winners.

If your are curious yourself you might try a quick search at for the term "low end phones." There are 90 news stories/results today regarding all of the major handset makers focusing on the low end phones. That isn't to even mention low end handsets and tablets.

That is not just a trend. That is an avalanche. It is really a revolution. All of the (handset) makers have noticed. It's now up to the individuals to devise ways to capitalize on the proliferation of the low end devices and provide opportunities for the users.

I say that "mobile based business" is the way to go. Stay tuned for some projects that I am co-developing in this space. There are some specific strategies that I believe will be key in propogating this Mobile Based (.biz) model. As is often the case, there are likely just one or two key "distinctions" that will be key.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Dot Com Kingdom

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

This is just a reminder to the participants of the upwards of 1000 new domain name extensions about to be released into the wild of the Internet.  I have been beating my drum for a long time about the importance of the .com extension to the Internet and this is another take. 

I do keep an eye on the teletype for the posted domain name sales each week across the Internet. There are some very interesting trends developing. Especially with the impending gradual release of upwards  of 1000 new domain extensions. The most interesting is that .com domain names are holding their values. That is quite interesting with the new domain name extensions (and direct competition for .com) gradually being introduced. Which could amount to ultimately billions and billions of newly registered (other than .com) domain names over time.

Domain names are and will continue to be critical to the smooth functioning and access to the Internet. From the mechanical perspective domain names are necessary for the average person to get to a specific destination on the Internet. Whether that be a web page, a blog  or something else.  Domain names represent the intersection of the real world and the Internet.  Domain names facilitate that interaction. That connection point. A doorway to the Internet if you will.

Now of course, .com is an abbreviation for dot commercial.  Let's take a look at the definition of commercial from  The first and most simple definition as it is most relevant.



[kuh-mur-shuhl] Show IPA
of, pertaining to, or characteristic of commerce

Now, what is the definition of Commerce?


[kom-ers] Show IPA
an interchange of goods or commodities, especially on a large scale between different countries (foreign commerce)  or between different parts of the same country (domestic commerce)  trade; business.
social relations, especially the exchange of views, attitudes, etc.

So, the definition of commerce (.com)- covers pretty much all of what we all do on the Internet. That includes all business, social networking, blogging, news reading, music/media downloading,  and just plain old communicating (such as email, texting, twitter, chat etc.) 

The next time you hear that .com is the overwhelming favorite of domain name buyers, investors and users- you will know exactly why.

Dot com (.com)  is synonymous with the Internet.  How do you compete with that?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Welcome to the "Inter-niche".

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

99.9% of the (upwards of 1000) newly proposed domain name extensions have no chance of ever rivaling or even competing with .com as the king of the Internet.  The new name extensions are going to be "niche" names. Limited scope or category specific names.

For the record, I will  say that there is one (and only one) name that even has the potential to rival .com in its popularity, usage and pervasiveness- and that is the proposed extensions of .web.  No fewer than seven companies have applied for the privalege to run a proposed .web registry. Each one knows what the stakes could be.  .Web has at least a punchers chance to ever take on .com and compete. .Web has a chance however slim. Not impossible. Not likely. I have written about the .com dominance in prior blog posts and you can find that if you like. Suffice it to say that .com is and will remain the kind of the Internet. If you ask me, someone has to be at the top of the pyramid and I don't see .com coming off. 

Keep in mind that .net was the last extension to have the "punchers chance" to take on .com and compete. What happened to .net? .Net is a nice little "niche name" that is widely used for many purposes. Does it rival .com in usage and popularity? Not even close. Not even in the same conversation. Does .web have a better chance than .net (to rival .com)? We will see.

Let me give you an example of some of the new domain extensions that are about to be released onto the global marketplace.


Ok, you get the idea.  That's a nice list of some niche names that will become new domain extensions. That list is just a few of the upwards of 1000 proposed new domain extensions. The new extensions that will be added to the mix along with the existing extensions of  .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz, .us and the like. This list above does not include of course the newly proposed country code domains,  non-english character domains, and branded/company names that have been proposed.

Why do I bring all of this up?

The reason is that there will be an interesting hierarchy developing  between the existing domain name extensions (such as .com, .net and .org) and all of the newly proposed extensions.

I'll pull a few of the new name applications that appear to have the potential to engender even slightly more attention or interest than the type of niche names listed above. Some of these name do have potential for fairly widespread usage.


Ok, that's enough of those for now and back to my main point.

The existing names of .com, .net, .org and .info will remain as popular as ever. Even the names that were lagging behind such as .mobi and .biz are likely to see a renewed interest do to the release of the new domain extensions. There will be many winners and losers among the new extensions. However, the domain extensions that have the least to worry about are the already established extensions. The newly proposed extensions will serve as adjuncts and additions to the existing extensions.

We'll see how this process (of introduction of new domain name extensions) rolls out over the next few years. It will be interesting to see how this new "Inter-niche" plays out.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Will .mobile lead to a .mobi renaissance?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

There are upwards of 1000 new domain name extensions about to be poured onto the Internet scene. Many have speculated on who will be the big (registry) winners in this new gamble by ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) who administrate the domain extensions and proposed the massive expansion as well.

We have an avalance of new top level domain name extensions coming down the slope.  So what we are undoubtedly  looking at a paradigm shift in the way that domain names are viewed and utilized in our global society. Who will be the largest beneficiaries of the deployment of the new domain name extensions? Some have speculated that .web and .shop are destined to be big winners.

Who will be some of the big winners?

Will it be .shop, .web, .book, .mobile or any number of a thousand others?

I would like to take a look specifically at .mobile and .mobily.  The domain extensions .mobile and .mobily have been applied for as part of ICANNS reorganization of the Internet. Of course, the domain extension .mobi has been in existence since 2005. In fact, .mobile has been applied for (to run the registry) by three different entities. Suffice it to say that we will likely soon be looking at the three domain extensions (.mobi, .mobile and .mobily) widely available on the Internet for purchase and use.

(* .Mobily Mobily (Arabic: موبايلي‎) is the trade name launched in May 2005[2] by Saudi Arabia's second Telecommunications company. (from Wikipedia post).)

What is the point of all of having three extensions that have essentially the same meaning and content?

You might look here:

According to a recent Cisco research report. The number of smartphones, tablets, laptops and internet-capable phones will exceed number of humans in 2013. 

These numbers already suggest more than 8 billion Internet connected devices by now.  Probably more. Now these 8 billion Internet connected devices mean alot of different things to many people. However, to the domain name industry (because that's what I write about) it will likely mean many (hundreds of millions) more domain name registrations one way or another. Meaning, depending on what the new registries/operators have planned for the new and old extensions.  The basic reasons for the likely explosion in (mobile related) domain names are as such- in order of importance:

Defensive registrations by companies seeking to prevent domain "squatting" or misuse and protection of intellectual property.
Domain name speculation (investments)
Company/website names and development. (such as domain portfolios)
Other uses (such as email addresses, mobile ids or security related)

How many new domain name purchases could (mobile specific) domain names involve? Projections are that billions and billions of mobile devices (accelerating at a rapid pace) are connected to and connecting to the Internet.  Remember that domain names are cheap. That ten dollars/year for some useful application is pretty inexpensive. One billion domain names sold at ten dollars/year is ten billion in revenue/year. Not bad for any new domain name extension (such as .mobile) or even .mobi which many have already left for dead and is which is likely to see a renaissance.

To the .mobi domain extension I say congratulations and welcome to your new life.