Friday, August 22, 2014

Is that a "Splinternet" that I see?

By Duane Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

I have written a few articles regarding the relative prospect of the development of various types of  "Splinternets" appearing over time. Especially in conjunction with the (in process) release of upwards of 1000 new top level domain name extensions.

Wikipedia.org defines the "Splinternet" as follows:

The splinternet (also referred to as cyberbalkanization or Internet Balkanization) is a characterization of the Internet as splintering and dividing due to various factors, such as technology, commerce, politics, nationalism, religion, and interests.

Some of my prior articles on this topic are here:

One Thousand Splinternets?

Is the Age of the (Just One) Internet Over?

Given my interest in this area, I wanted to post information from a press release  this week from the National Association of Realtors. What is most interesting is not that the .realtor domain name is being released. It is how they plan to use the domain name extensions. Essentially for members only. I am now wondering if this doesn't represent the first salvo across the bow of of the "old" Internet and into the world of "Splinternets?"

From a press release dated 08/18/2014 titled:

NAR Announces Launch of .REALTOR Top-Level Domain


WASHINGTON (August 18, 2014) –The National Association of Realtors®’ new .REALTOR top-level domain will be available October 23, 2014 to members of NAR and the Canadian Real Estate Association.

According to this press release: NAR will provide the first 500,000 members who register for a .REALTOR domain with a free one-year license, and CREA will provide 10,000 free domains to members on a first-come, first-serve basis.

The top-level domain will be made available only to real estate professionals who are Realtors®, members of NAR or CREA. The domain will also be made available to state and local Realtor® associations, association multiple listing services, affiliated institutes, societies and councils and NAR strategic business partners.

The National Association of Realtors® “The Voice for Real Estate®,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

By the way,  just for some more interesting reading. Here is a May 2014 Washington Times article regarding the real prospect of "Splinternets:"   

U.S. domain deregulation could fragment World Wide Web into "Splinternets."


Saturday, August 16, 2014

Domain Name Merchandising and Pricing.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

Want to put some muscle in your domain name portfolio? Want to increase the overall value of your domain name portfolio from 50 to 100% with very little effort? There is a domain merchandising and pricing strategy that very easy to use and if often overlooked.

Increase the prices.

I will give some more information on this strategy below (see "graduated domain name pricing"). However, first a bit of information on (domain name) product merchandising and pricing:

From Dictionary.com:

Merchandising:



noun
1.  the planning and promotion of sales by presenting a product to the right market at the proper time, by carrying out organized, skillful advertising, using attractive displays, etc.

Now information on pricing a product from entrepreneur.com:

Pricing a Product:

Definition: To establish a selling price for a product. According this this definition:
















No matter what type of product you sell, the price you charge your customers or clients will have a direct effect on the success of your business. Though pricing strategies can be complex, the basic rules of pricing are straightforward:
  • All prices must cover costs and profits.
  • The most effective way to lower prices is to lower costs.
  • Review prices frequently to assure that they reflect the dynamics of cost, market demand, response to the competition, and profit objectives.
  • Prices must be established to assure sales.
Comparable sales are a great place to start when considering how to price your domain names. I addition here are some factors below that I found on a nifty site called DNSalePrice.com:

Valuation factors to consider when researching comparable sales include:
   
Empirical:
  • TLD (top level domain)
  • Length
  • Words (number of)
  • Numbers
  • Hyphens
  • Misspelling
Soft:
  • Commercial potential
  • Brandability
  • Memorable and pronounceable
  • Ease and ambiguity of spelling
  • Search engine potential (page rank)
Hidden (i.e. requires additional info):
  • Site content
  • Current traffic
  • Source of traffic
  • Current Revenue
  • PPC rates
But of course, the fact is that a given domain name is worth whatever someone is willing to pay for it. That story will never change.

Here are some real (head scratching) examples of the beauty (of the domain name) being in the eye of the beholder:

For example, did you know that the domain name ireport.com sold for $750,000 in 2008?  Check the record.  What would this domain name get on the open market today? I would guess between 15 and 25,000 at the most. That's quite a difference from the 2008 sale price. Beauty certainly is in the eye of the beholder.

Or another example. The domain name Flowers.mobi was once sold for $200,000 at auction. It was sold a few years later for under $10,000 at another auction. Two different times. Two totally different valuations.

So we do generally employ what I call "graduated domain name pricing" strategy.

The objective is to increase the overall sales prices, profits and the value of the domain name portfolio?


Once we set our initial pricing (even if most of it is internal) we do gradually increase the price for  a given domain name over time. Almost without exception.


There are several reasons that we do this:

1.) Domain  names are a commodities that have historically increased in value over time just like most commodities. One of our objectives is to support that process of maintaining domain name values. Not to reverse it.

2.) We find that many of our domain names get multiple bids by the same buyers over time. One of the ways we protect against that with our assets is to increase the prices over time. The buyers catch on to that practice and if they are serious about the purchase this negotiation tactic gets their attention. Sometimes it does lead to missed sales (at the lower price) and sometimes it leads to sales at a much higher price. Maybe even by a different buyer. This process protects the prices of the domain name assets as well.

This technique can also be effective when soliciting offers to potentially interested parties. For example, if you offer the domain name to a party with a buy price of  $5000. That is your starting point. It is often helpful for the buyer to clarify the offer to let them  know that the name wont be offered for that price again. At least, not from you. If the party is not interested, that is fine. Nothing lost. You both move on. This strategy is helpful for the buyer and the seller with what I call discounted pricing. When I make offers at this level and there are no buyers I generally will double the price.

The graduated domain name pricing is certainly a sales tactic. Just as when any merchant would dramatically reduce the price to a discounted level. With the buyer and seller understanding that prices wont stay that low and will return to a much higher price.

The strategy generally does result in holding domain names for much longer than you originally planned and you need to be prepared for that. Say you start a domain name price at $5000 and it doesn't sell. You increase the price to $10,000 and it doesn't sell. You then increase the price to $20,000 and it does sell. What did this process accomplish?

Two major things:

1.) Supports the domain aftermarket and maintains domain name values.

2.) Helps to maintain and enhance the value of your domain name portfolio.

 
Before you sell a domain name you may consider a quote by famed motivational speaker/author Tony Robbins who once (famously) said that "Everything you do is a cause set in motion."

Selling a particular domain name may seem like a simple little transaction that is relatively easy to do. However, there could be longer term ramifications to your sale that aren't initially apparent.

That being said, holding onto a domain name and spurning some offers is not always easy to do. It is comforting (and sometimes necessary) to take the quick money and perhaps let a domain name go for much less than what it is likely worth on the open market over time. That is ok too.

So how do you determine what a given domain name could be worth in the open market. There is one answer to that question that is the best one that you will find.

Hold on to it and you will eventually find out. Just be prepared that it may sometimes take years to sell a particular domain name.

I would suggest my "graduated domain name pricing" strategy if you want to give that a try. Pricing an merchandising strategists will tell you that sometimes the higher price point is better and even more likely to lead to a sale.



Sunday, August 3, 2014

The Domain Market Economy.

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

I have written extensively in this column regarding the relative prospects of the success of the (upwards) of 1000 new domain name extensions. Many new domain name extensions have been introduced and many more are yet to be introduced. We now have .buzz, .events, .guru and .loans and soon we will see .web, .shop and .app and many, many more.

Who will be the winners and losers of the new domain name extensions in the end?  Well the answer is that only the free markets of the market economy will decide. 

Here is a great definition of the "Free Market" from Wikipedia.org:


A free market is a market system in which the prices for goods and services are set freely by consent between sellers and consumers, in which the laws and forces of supply and demand are free from any intervention by a government, price-setting monopoly, or other authority. A free market contrasts with a controlled market or regulated market, in which government intervenes in supply and demand through non-market methods such as laws creating barriers to market entry or directly setting prices.

Also regarding the "Market Economy" from Wikipedia.org:

A Market economy is an economy in which decisions regarding investment, production and distribution are based on supply and demand,[1] and prices of goods and services are determined in a free price system.[2] The major defining characteristic of a market economy is that decisions on investment and the allocation of producer goods are mainly made through markets.[3] This is contrasted with a planned economy, where investment and production decisions are embodied in a plan of production.

Why do I take the time to post what are generally well known definitions of well known market dynamics?

The answer is that because the winners and losers of the new domain name extensions will be chosen just like any other free market venture. Through the free market economy.

In my previous column titled One Thousand Splinternets,  I speculated regarding an imaginary conversation taking place around the water cooler say 10 years from now. The point of the exercise was to demonstrate some of the inherent potential of  just a very few of the new 1000 domain name extensions that are flooding the marketplace as we speak.

From this column:


Imagine if you will the following conversation taking place between three friends at the water cooler in say 10 years from now:

Mary: I haven't heard anything from Steve in a while. Someone told me that he's spending all of his time on .web. You know, the Google owned Splinternet that offers free domain names and free websites. Apparently nearly everything is free there. Free and easy. Just like the 1960's. No wonder Steve likes it there. He never grew out of the sixties and I guess he met a girl on .web. I wouldn't take much of anything seriously that goes on there though.You get what you pay for right?
 
Joe:  I know what your saying. For me I've been using .secure for almost everything. With the encryptions and extra security measures that they take with all of the sites there. I've been thinking that I may just do everything there. That domain is growing so rapidly they say once you try it you wont use anything else.  However, I do use .bank for all of my banking and financial stuff. I do like that too. My wife likes .books, .music and .apps. I'm not really interested. However, they say the apps at .secure are like Fort Knox as far as security goes. So I use some of them.
 
Johnny: All I can say is thank God for .com. With all of these splinternets and new domain name extensions popping up like candy I think we could all go crazy if it weren't for the old standby .com. Dot com is still the standard bearer of everything that is on the Internet. Good, bad and indifferent. Dot com keeps taking these pot shots from the new domain extensions and keeps coming back stronger than ever. I'll take .com anyday and that is all that I need. I has everything that I need and everything that I don't need and sometimes sample if you know what I mean.
 
Mary: I'm with you on .com however I do have a confession to make. I probably spend 80% of my time on .shop. The way that they have integrated all of the shops and malls there the last I heard they had 100,000 stores and counting. Their top stores are apparently JC Penny and Best Buy. Who would have guessed that?  They also have this really  neat point system where you get points for buying at any shop there. The savings are unbelievable.  I heard on the news the other day that .shop was projected to overtake Amazon in overall sales by 2025. Wouldn't that be something. They have alot more than shopping as well. Just about anything related to it.
 
Joe: My nephew tried to get on the Chinese Splinternet just for the fun of it. Then he found out that it's all in Chinese and you need permission from the Chinese Government or or something like that. I guess its bigger than all of the other Internets added together. Too bad its so isolated.
 
Mary: Well back to work for me. Just between the three of us I may be taking a job with the .shop homeworker program. With their direct selling and network marketing programs, I earn points from everyone that I recruit as well. I can cash out the points for a discount and I am making more money there than I do here.
 
Johnny: Good for you Mary.
 
Joe: Maybe I can get a job with .secure.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Common Law Trademarks or USEMARKS (TM).

By Duane J. Higgins, CEO, CYBRANDS.COM

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 USPTO.GOV website.)

According to MarkLaw.com:

The symbols ®, TM and SM provide notice to the world that you are claiming trademark rights in any mark using these symbols. You may use the TM on marks identifying goods, and the SM on marks identifying services. You need not have a federal or state registration to use the TM or SM symbols


From The National Technology Assistance Project.

Lsntap.org

Common Law Trademarks (and its Case Law)

A legal aid organization may be entitled to common-law protection even if it has not registered a federal trademark. Common-law trademark claims apply similar principles and case law to the Lanham Act, so that state and federal courts often rely upon each other’s cases, providing a “common reservoir” of trademark precedent.

Common law protection, however, is often limited to the geographic area in which the mark is used, and the plaintiff in a common law protection suit must prove it is entitled to exclusive use of its trademark. Unregistered common-law marks are protected locally even if someone later federally registers the mark.

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.”
From:  http://commonlawtrademarkrights.com/
Common Law Trademark Basics:
Priority of Use and Distinctiveness are Key
Common Law Rights Are Two Giant Steps Below Federal Principal Registration Rights
United States trademark rights are acquired by, and dependent upon, priority of use and distinctiveness. Distinctiveness arises from the uniqueness of the choices of the word(s), term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination of these that are used to identify goods or services that a trademark owner has an exclusive right to claim for their own. Registration on the Principal Register goes beyond the rights earned under common law.


Federal Registration Expands the Reach of a Trademark
[T]he scope of federal trademark protection differs significantly from the scope of common law protection: Congress expanded the common law ... by granting an exclusive right in commerce to federal registrants in areas where there has been no offsetting use of the mark.... Congress intended the Lanham Act to afford nation-wide protection to federally-registered marks, and that once the certificate has issued, no person can acquire any additional rights superior to those obtained by the federal registrant. . .    Registration of a trademark, in addition to serving the interests of the registrant by providing constructive notice, serves the interests of other participants in the market place. Entrepreneurs, for example, who plan to promote and to sell a new product under a fanciful mark, should be able to rely on a search of the trademark registry and their own knowledge of whether the mark has been used so that what may be substantial expenditures of money promoting the mark will not be wasted. Consumers are also benefitted by the registration of national trademarks, because such registration helps to prevent confusion about the source of products sold under a trademark and to instill in consumers the confidence that inferior goods are not being passed off by use of a familiar trademark. In short, therefore, the benefits of prior registration under the Lanham Act are justified in light of the order such registration brings to the market place.
Natural Footwear Ltd. v. Hart, Schaffner & Marx, 760 F.2d 1383 (C.A.3 (N.J.), 1985).

Priority or First to Use
The ‘First to Use’ a trademark (the use that has priority) acquires rights in that mark if the mark is inherently strong and if the trademark follows other common law principals. Inherent strength is not something that is automatically present in common words, phrases or designs. If  your trademark is made up of the KEY WORDS that describe your product, components, customers, uses or other words or phrases that you would type into a search engine box, your trademark may not be a trademark at all but just a collection of words or perhaps a trade name. A trademark that is made up entirely of descriptive words may not acquire any common law rights because one user cannot take those words out of circulation for other people to use to describe the same products or services and cannot claim them for exclusive use.

Potential trademarks and parts of potential trademarks that are not inherently distinctive, such as those that only contain words or designs that describe the product or service being sold or those who would use the product or service (also called merely descriptive trademarks), are not given strong legal rights when first used but may acquire legal rights over time or with lots of advertising or use.  If the potential trademark or part of the potential trademark is generic, meaning that it identifies the class of products or services, the generic terms have no trademark rights and cannot acquire legal rights over time.

The date when a business obtains common law rights in a trademark (sometimes know as “trade identity rights’) depends on the distinctiveness of the mark. “A business will obtain rights in the mark upon first use only if the mark is inherently distinctive. If the mark is not inherently distinctive, a business may obtain ownership rights in the mark when the mark attains a secondary meaning.”  Coach House Restaurant, Inc. v. Coach and Six Restaurants, Inc., 934 F.2d at 1559 (C.A.11 (Ga.), 1991). Even if someone uses something as a trademark, “if it is not distinctive, the user does not have a trademark because he has no existing trademark rights.” Otto Roth & Company, Inc. v. Universal Foods Corporation, 640 F.2d 1317 (Fed. Cir. 1981).

Where Do Common Law Trademark Rights Apply?
Common law trademark rights (where defined by state law, local law, case law or federal unfair competition laws) exist where trade has taken place that qualifies as trademark use (or trade name use or service mark use) which traditionally used to be in the isolated local geographic areas where the trade actually took place or where the MARK was actually used. When someone from one state can order from someone in another state on a worldwide web and that product is shipped on a interstate freeway to another state or the service is provided in another state, the idea of local trade is questionable. One state’s law has these definitions:

MARK. Any trade name, trademark, or service mark entitled to registration under this article whether registered or not.
USED. A mark shall be deemed to be used in this state:
a. On goods or their containers or the displays associated therewith or on the tags or labels affixed thereto when such goods are sold or otherwise distributed in the state;
b. In connection with services when it is used or displayed in the sale or advertising of services and the services are rendered in this state; and
c. In connection with a business when it identifies the business to persons in this state.

Does local even exist anymore? Use of internet web sites for selling throughout the U.S. may change the scope of where common law rights exist and how they can be protected and enforced. Sometimes this means you can get a cease and desist letter at your small business in a small town on the East Coast from a big city West Coast business for using a confusingly similar trademark on the internet to promote a local business. Success can bring its own problems.

It’s all about goodwill, the more successful that a trademark is for helping consumers to make a positive connection between a product or service and who provides it, the more likely it is that someone will try to compete by taking the trademark or something similar (may be OK) or confusingly similar (may be infringement) to use it for themselves. Some businesses may do it intentionally: Why take the time to build goodwill when you can use a name that is already associated with goodwill? Some businesses may do it unintentionally: Why should I verify that I have a right to use a name when I like the name and it costs money to verify that it is not being used already and I Googled it and nothing came up?

Common law rights can be used to stop someone else’s use. A common law mark may be able to successfully oppose a confusingly similar federal registration or cancel a federally registered trademark if the trademark compete in the same or similar products or services in the same geographical area if the alleged common law trademark owner can show prior use (or senior use) of the mark. The Lanham Act provides that a registered mark, even if it has become incontestable, still may be challenged "to the extent, if any, to which the use of a mark registered on the principal register infringes a valid right acquired under the law of any State or Territory by use of a mark or trade name continuing from a date prior to the date of registration under this chapter of such registered mark." 15 U.S.C. 1065 as quoted in Advance Stores Co. Inc. v. Refinishing Spec. Inc., 188 F.3d at 411 (6th Cir., 1999). A challenge to a registered mark by an unregistered mark could be in a USPTO opposition or cancellation or in a state or federal court.

Why not just stick with common law rights? Enforcement can be difficult from both sides. Trying to enforce a common law right may mean one do over after another. Stopping one person from using your name may cost more than a federal registration would have cost in the first place and when you are done stopping the first person you still just have a common law right that you are going to have to keep enforcing on a piecemeal basis. If this first use by someone else is a federal registration of the mark by a junior user, the junior user will have a much easier time stopping you than you will have in stopping them. (Federal registrations have presumptive rights.) Many third parties such as Facebook, Twitter, domain name registrars, web site hosts, and others have policies that protect federal registrations. Someone else who registers your common law name will have presumptive rights in that mark and trying to stop them can be very difficult and expensive and the cause of a lot of heart ache and distress.

Common law trademarks do not enjoy the advantages of federal registration (see below) which include being protected more thoroughly from infringement and counterfeiting trademarks. Can’t get federal registration? Marks that do not qualify for federal registration may not qualify for common law protection for the same reasons: federal laws are based on the same or similar common law principles. Likewise, having a federal registration does not protect a business from being challenged by a senior user of a common law trademark. USPTO trademark examiners do not examine potential trademarks for potential infringement by state or common law marks. The USPTO only looks at other USPTO federal registrations for potentially conflicting marks.

Unregistered Trademarks
Unregistered trademarks are protected by law under more than just common law (case law) because various state statutes and federal statutes have adopted (codified) the concepts and terminology that were developed in case law. One applicable federal law for unregistered trademarks is 15 USC § 1125(a) of the Lanham Act: False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden (a) Civil action:
(1) Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which—
(A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or
(B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person’s goods, services, or commercial activities;
shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

Claims for trademark infringement for unregistered marks require findings that the unregistered marks owned by plaintiff are either inherently distinctive [rather than descriptive] or have acquired a secondary meaning and are likely to be confused with defendants' marks by members of the relevant public. Duncan Mcintosh Co. v. Newport Dunes Marina LLC, 324 F.Supp.2d 1083-1084 (C.D. Cal., 2004) quoting Int'l Jensen, 4 F.3d at 823; Vision Sports, 888 F.2d at 613; California Cooler, Inc. v. Loretto Winery, Ltd., 774 F.2d 1451, 1455 (9th Cir.1985). Without inherent distinctiveness or acquired distinctiveness through secondary meaning, an alleged common law trademark is not protected by common law. The same lack of common law protection holds true for trademarks that are geographically descriptive or geographically misdescriptive that have not acquired distinctiveness.

In addition, an unregistered mark must actually have been used as a trademark to be protected under trademark law. "[A] plaintiff must show that it has actually used the designation at issue as a trademark"; thus the designation or phrase must be used to "perform[] the trademark function of identifying the source of the merchandise to the customers." Microstrategy Incorp. v. Motorola, 245 F.3d at 341 (4th Cir., 2001) quoting Rock & Roll Hall of Fame v. Gentile Prods., 134 F.3d 749, 753 (6th Cir. 1998). See valid manner examples below or the web site Function As a Mark.com for examples on how a trademark should function.

Geographic Rights for Unregistered Marks are Limited
A common law mark (unregistered mark) has geographically limited rights (prior use) against a subsequent user under the Tea Rose/Rectanus doctrine -- the first user of a common law trademark may not oust a later user's good faith use of an infringing mark in a market where the first user's products or services are not sold. Nat'l Ass'n Healthcare Comm. v. Cent. Arkansas Agency, 257 F.3d at 735 (8th Cir., 2001) quoting United Drug Co. v. Theodore Rectanus Co., 248 U.S. 90, 100-01 (1918); Hanover Star Milling Co. v. Metcalf, 240 U.S. 403, 415 (1916).
This prior use right may be enforced through an opposition or cancellation proceeding. See Published for Opposition see also Opposition Steps/Cancellation Steps for more information.

From Bitlaw.com


Executive summary:
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.
The BitLaw discussion of common law trademarks is divided as follows:

Common law trademarks versus federal registration:
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. However, federal registration, if available, is almost always recommended and gives a trademark owner substantial additional rights not available under common law. See the BitLaw discussion of federal registration for more information.

Geographic limitation of common law marks:
Common law trademark rights are limited to the geographic area in which the mark is used. Thus, if a coffee blend is sold under the name BLASTER in California only, the trademark rights to that name exist only in California. If another coffee retailer begins to market a different blend in New York under the same name (assuming they had no knowledge of the California company), then there would be no trademark infringement. However, if the New York company attempted to sell their coffee blend nation-wide, they would discover that the California company's common law rights to the mark would prevent them from entering the California market.

Effect of common law marks on trademark searches:
Since no registration is required in order to establish common law rights to a trademark, it can be difficult to discover whether anyone has trademark rights in a particular mark. This is the legal background for the difficulties and expenses involved in trademark clearance searches. If registration were required for trademark rights, clearance searches would only need to examine trademark registers. Under U.S. law, however, an attempt must be made to discover these common law rights. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Naming of a New World Currency?

Is the "SPEDRI" the Real Deal?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

All of this talk about Bitcoin, crypto-currencies and mobile and micro-payments over the past months and years has got me to thinking about real currencies and the future of money. Especially the prospect of a new world currency which has been discussed for decades. 

There has been speculation for nearly half a century regarding what currency could potentially challenge or usurp the US Dollar as the worlds global reserve currency?  As they say, nothing lasts forever. History will tell us that the mighty US Dollar will likely end it's marvelous run as the worlds global reserve currency at some point. The pressing questions are of course when will that happen? (and) what will replace it?

At this time, there is an increasing interest in and focus on the IMF's (International Monetary Funds) Special Drawing Rights or SDR  having the potential to become a new worldwide currency or even to challenge the US Dollar as the worlds reserve currency.

The speculation goes on and on. However, there's a particularly interesting quote from Jim Rickards, the author of "The Death of Money" that was published earlier this year:

“The next time we will have a liquidity crisis in the world it’s going to be bigger than the ability of central banks to deal with it. The IMF will basically have to bail out the world by printing the SDRs (an international reserve asset created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries' official reserves). By that time, you will see the SDR emerge as the new global world currency.” 

From the IMF (International Monetary Fund) Website:

The SDR is an international reserve asset, created by the IMF in 1969 to supplement its member countries' official reserves. Its value is based on a basket of four key international currencies, and SDRs can be exchanged for freely usable currencies. With a general SDR allocation that took effect on August 28 and a special allocation on September 9, 2009, the amount of SDRs increased from SDR 21.4 billion to around SDR 204 billion (equivalent to about $316 billion, converted using the rate of March 12, 2014).

What is quite interesting is that the Special Drawing Rights or SDR was actually intentionally misnamed by the IMF or at least given a confusing name for a reason. 

According to Wikipedia.org:

...the SDR or Special Drawing Rights was purposefully given an innocuous name free of connotations due to controversy as disagreements broke out over the nature of this new reserve asset during its creation. Some wanted it to function like money and others, credit.[Williamson 3] While the name would offend neither side of this debate.

So where does that leave us now?

Where it leaves us is that if the IMF is planning for any expansion of the "Special Drawing Rights" to the worldwide/commercial and even consumer level-they will likely need to modify the name. The term "Special Drawing Rights" is too long, cumbersome and confusing. It's not necessary.

Doing a little quick research on new product  naming led me to come up with this name:

the SPEDRI.

"SPEDRI" is designed as a common sense abbreviation for Special Drawing Rights.

SPEDRI is unoffensive and is also easy to say and remember.  SPEDRI is a consumer friendly term. It has a very clear meaning as an abbreviation for the Special Drawing Right.

Special Drawing Rights
SDR
SPEDRI

One Spedri.
One thousand Spedri.
One million Spedri.


Dollar, Euro, Franc, Peso, Rupee, Ruble, Yen, Yuan and..................SPEDRI.

Special Drawing Rights=SDR=SPEDRI

You get my point. 

So should we start getting accustomed to the term "SPEDRI" and all that this new burgeoning currency would entail?
Is the "SPEDRI" a sleeping giant that is yet to be awakened by unforseen events on the global stage?

Time will tell.

More Information on the IMF's Special Drawing Rights/SDR/SPEDRI:

 So back to the issue of the Special Drawing Rights or SDR potentially becoming a world currency. 
There is a very interesting excerpt in an IMF policy paper dated Jan. 7, 2011.  There is a clear reference to the IMF potentially creating a "new class of reserve assets" constructed from the SDR. The recommendation is here:
Develop a new reserve asset: Issuance by the Fund (or related investment vehicle) of SDR-denominated securities in sufficient volume could offer a safe haven in theevent of disorderly diversification out of the existing stock of assets, as well asoffering an alternative mode of Fund borrowing at time of high potential demand for its resources.
Reading into this paper further, the IMF talks about a "potential new class of reserve asset: tradable SDR securities..."
From another interesting article in The New American. Dated May 14, 2014. The title of the article is:  IMF Bailout for Ukraine and a New World Currency:
While much of the world was distracted by the supposed clash over Ukraine between Russian strongman Vladimir Putin and Western politicians, the International Monetary Fund announced a bailout of the new Ukrainian regime denominated in the IMF’s increasingly influential proto-global currency known as Special Drawing Rights, or SDRs. Analysts are warning that the developments could have profound implications for the global monetary system and the economy — and especially for the United States...
This is what appears to be the the first loan by the IMF, headquartered in Washington, DC, as specifying a loan in SDR (Special Drawing Rights) rather than in the customary US Dollar. Is this the start of something bigger?
Here are a few more articles regarding the prospect of the Special Drawing Rights/SDR becoming a  world currency:





So the way I see it, the IMF's already utilized synthetic currency is certainly in a prime position to become a global currency and potentially the worlds' new reserve currency, There have  been many strategic moves by the IMF to position the SDR as the new global reserve currency. SDR  bonds are already being issued that his the first step to a freely tradable currency. The global monetary system already is set up for and utilizes SDR through the IMF, the World Bank and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS.ORG) . Certainly, there are some hurdles. However, less hurdles with the SDR than with any other option. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

The Internet of Domains (IoD).

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

Many of us have at least heard mention of the "Internet of Things"  or (IoT) of which there is apparently no agreed upon definition. According to an interesting article at ComputerWorld.com this week titled  Explained: The ABCs of the Internet of Things:

...there is a test for determining whether something is part of the IoT: Does one vendor's product work with another's? Does a door lock by one vendor communicate with a light switch by another vendor, and do you want the thermostat to be part of the conversation?

I did read through the article and a few things were evident to me. One is that when it comes to the consumer applications for the IoT-that the "cool factor" is more important than anything. Sure it might be fun to have your garage door opener talking with your garbage disposal on some level. However, many of the consumer appliations will end up being more of a luxury than a necessity. Though there is no doubt that there will be countless and valuable contributions in many other areas such as military, IT and home security, business, industrial etc.

Second is that this whole process of the evolution of the IoT is going to be a long, slow slog. With many fits and starts. Many glitches. Many winners and losers on the provider side. How the whole process will sort out remains to be seen.

So what does this all have to do with domain names?

Possibly alot.

I have written extensively about alternative uses for Internet domain names. This topic is especially relevant with the ICANN (the governing body of domain names) introducing potentially over 1000 new domain name extensions to the global marketplace. Many of them such as .guru, .directory and .club and many more  are already active.

Some of my prior articles regarding alternative uses for Internet domain names are here:

Alternative Uses for Internet Domain Names

The Chinese and URL Trademarks.

One Thousand Splinternets

Is the Age of Just One Internet Over?

Domain Names As Phone Numbers

 So what does the Internet of Things (IOT) have to do with Internet domain names?

According this this article at Computerworld:

Part of this is due to the arrival of IPv6 addresses, the next generation Internet protocol. It replaces IPv4, which assigned 32-bit addresses, with a total limit of 4.3 billion; IPv6 is 128-bit, and allows for 340 trillion trillion trillion addresses or 340,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This makes it possible to assign a unique identifier to anything that's part of the IoT

That 34 trillion trillion available IP addresses is a pretty large number. 

From Wikipedia.org

The Internet Protocol address (IP address) is of course a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication.[1] An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. Its role has been characterized as follows: "A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there."[2]

So most of us already understand that Internet domain names generally correspond with IP addresses. From Wikipedia:

A domain name is a label that people use to find points on the Internet without having to remember a string of numbers. Computers only understand IP addresses, whereas people generally find it easier to rember words or terms. The domain name system translates these easily remembered names into their unique IP addresses for the computer to find. 

IP addresses and domain names go together.

Will there be value in naming objects/devices (assigning domain names to) in the IoT? Just as we do with websites etc.? If those applications are developed then use of domain name usage could be massively expanded in the blink of an eye. This is something that I think should be watched very closely.

Here's another potential area for domain name use/expansion that I would keep an eye on:

According to that same ComputerWorld article regarding some of the potential pitfalls and dangers that could arise out of this new and developing Internet of Things. The main concern is of course security. Security in terms of personal information being potentially exposed to hackers. Security in terms of any given IoT application or network being compromised and exploited.

Could the DNS (domain name system) provide a level of security for IoT users? A firewall of sorts?

Potentially, and I think in a few different ways. 

Domain names of course don't have to we a word, name or even make sense. For example these is a domain names:

jdkeosx.mobi
59381hk.net

What would be the security applications?

One potential application wold be multi-factor authentication.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Multi-factor authentication (also MFA, two-factor authentication, TFA, T-FA or 2FA) is an approach to authentication which requires the presentation of two or more of the three authentication factors: a knowledge factor ("something only the user knows"), a possession factor ("something only the user has"), and an inherence factor ("something only the user is"). After presentation, each factor must be validated by the other party for authentication to occur.

Knowledge factor-domain name
Possession factor- IP address
Inherence factor- Something the user is.

In case you missed my suggestion-the security applications could be revolutionary. First you have the device IP address (where the device lives on the Internet) and then you have the domain name IP address (where the domain name lives on the Internet). That's a double security layer. Add in a password and you have "triple level authentication." Which is of course much better than double. (the something you have and something you know) approach. It would be a new form of Multi-factor authentication.

There you have it. An added security layer. However, there is another layer as well that would be inherent in this process.

The DNS. (Domain Name System)

From Wikipedia:

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.

And of course the DNS is much more complicated than that. However, what I am proposing is the DNS being utilized as a firewall.  Another barrier for hackers to get through. Could this happen? Could this work? A domain name as a computing firewall?

This is the definition of a Computing Firewall from Wikipedia:

 In computing, a firewall is a software or hardware-based network security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic based on applied rule set. A firewall establishes a barrier between a trusted, secure internal network and another network (e.g., the Internet) that is not assumed to be secure and trusted.[1]

So here's a real-life proposed application that could account for around 3 billion new registered domain names right off the bat (According to one article the Internet is projected to reach 3 billion users by years end if not already. Most of those users on mobile devices.):

MOBILE IDS

Let's say when you purchase a mobile device you are also assigned or choose a mobile id to match the device. What's the point of all of that?  President Obama has proposed the use of "Internet IDs" for all users related to verification and authenticity of users.

Could a domain name serve as a mobile id for mobile users?


It's quite interesting that Google has been doing research regarding what they call a “device identifier” which are unique to every mobile phone.

From a Google Spokesman as told to a Clickz reporter in 2011:

“Over time, we’ll be able to enable things like frequency capping, spam filtration, improved conversion measurement and serving ads based on topics of interest, all of which will help us display the most useful in-app ads; minimize the number of irrelevant in-app ads shown; and improve in-app advertising for users, advertisers and developers.”

So why is Google proposing a "device identifier" of some sorts?
 
According this this article published on Marketing Pilgrim in 2011:

All of which are good things for both advertisers and consumers, though consumers are likely to balk at the idea when they realize what’s going on. To combat this automatic distrust, Google says they will offer an opt-out system, but its unlikely that mobile users will flock to the website to remove themselves.

So why use a domain name as opposed to another "device identifier" of some sorts?

For one thing domain names are much easier to remember than IP addresses. (Isn't that the reason domain names were created in the first place).

The secondary answer is probably in two parts:

Multi level authentication (security applications)
Security of the DNS (firewall)

Regarding concerns for security/confidentiality of information attached to domain name registrations. According to the new ICANN proposal for the Aggregated Registration Data Service (ARDS). ICANN reports that "gated access would only be available to requestors who applied for and were issued credentials to be used for ARDS query authentication." In other words, your personal data would be as safe as current technology allows.

There you have it. Just a few ideas about the "Internet of Domains" (IoD) that is just as real and definable as the "Internet of Things" (IoT) which doesn't have a definition either.





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Did I Release a Big Fish Domain Name?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo
Cybrands.com

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.COM
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
Cybrands.com

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 www.example.com translates to the addresses 93.184.216.119 (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.