Google Analytics

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Domain Portfolio Pivot

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

In my rather unremarkable basketball career through college I did pivot maybe a million times. Give or take a few hundred thousand. When it comes to entrepreneurship however the term "pivot" takes on a whole new meaning. One that is very relevant and useful to most entrepreneurs and businesses alike.

So the reason I want to write about the entrepreneurial "pivot" is because I am clearly taking a pivot at this time with my domain name portfolio.

Here is a great definition of the business/entrepreneurial "pivot" from

Definition of pivot

When used in relation to entrepreneurship, pivot (which generally refers to a shift in strategy) describes the tortured path that most start-ups go through to find the right customer, value proposition, and positioning.
Eric Ries, the creator of the 'Lean Startup' methodology, reminds us that pivots imply keeping one foot firmly in place as you shift the other in a new direction. In this way, new ventures process what they have already learned from past success and failure and apply these insights in new areas.
Don’t get caught traveling as you jump from idea to idea without absorbing lessons learned along the way.

Over the last 15 years or so I have generally carried around 500 domain names in my portfolio at a given time. I have been the classic domain name speculator. This has allowed me to buy and sell thousands of premium (and not so premium) top-level domain names. Many more than I care to remember. My operation has always been run as a "break even enterprise." What ever revenue I did earn (from parking and domain name sales) was funneled back into the business at a given time. A constant process of registering names and letting names that didn't produce or sell to expire.

Here is a definition of Domain Name Speculator from

Domain name speculation is the practice of identifying and registering or acquiring Internet domain names with the intent of selling them later for a profit. The main targets of domain name speculation are generic words which can be valuable for type-in traffic and for the dominant position they would have in any field due to their descriptive nature. The speculative characteristics of domain names may be linked to news reports or current events. However, the effective period during which such opportunities exist may be limited. Quick turnaround in the resale of domains is often called domain flipping.

It has been quite interesting and enjoyable for me. The experience has been invaluable. This process has got me to thinking recently about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. A good deal of which (hopefully) I have accumulated regarding the domain name industry.

These definitions are from



acquaintance with facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation; general erudition:
knowledge of many things.

[wiz-duh m]


the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.

So now my current portfolio numbers somewhere south of 100. Basically the fewest I've ever had. Also, dwindling by the day.

Will my portfolio get to zero? It is quite possible. It will take some sales of names that I am holding onto or determining other uses for the names.

For the skeptical sorts who would propose that you can't be a domain speculator and own zero domain names.

Let me ask you this.

Can you be a stock market investor and not own any stocks at a given time?

Can you be a commodities trader and not own any commodoties at a given time?

Can you be a gold speculator and not own any gold at a given point in time?

Can you be a real estate developer and now own any real estate at that time?

I may just try to do it.

Then of course, I will start all over again.

So at this time, I am resetting my domain name portfolio. The structure and make-up that will evolve over the next year.

What domain name purchasing strategies will I employ?
Private sales, auctions or hand registrations?
What domain extensions will I buy?
How many characters in the names?
New gTLDs such as .web,  .app, .blog, and .shop?
Alpha or numeric?
Country code names?
Generic names?
Brandable names?
City/GEO names?
Niche names?
Traditional gTLDs such as .com, .net and .org?

I will be interested to find out myself.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Google LogAnon Project

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

So we have facial recognition, biometrics and voice recognition nowadays. However, I did come across something interesting in the wilderness of the Internet the other day. There is apparently a little known Google project called LogAnon. The only thing I could find is here:

This LogAnon link has limited information:

LogAnon is a log anonymization library that helps having anonymous logs consistent between logs and network captures.
LogAnon mission statement is to: Provide a simple API Written in C with Python bindings Cross-platform

So what is this LogAnon all about?

I do try to present this blog (in simplistic terms) what are probably at times very complicated technological principles. Like I mentioned before, I am not a technologist, programmer or IT person. Just a blogger and this is a blog and not a dissertation.

Now let's me be clear that I don't have the slightest idea what this "loganon" project has to do with. However, the reason I want to speculate a bit is that  there may be some domain name applications. Which is what I write about.

So here is my hypothetical.

Could LogAnon have to do with anonymous and encrypted logins?

When you add the use of "randomly assigned domain names" the project is quite viable.

First a few words on randomly assigned domain names:

Now there are sites of course that produce randomly generated alpha or numeric strings such as which will quickly generate random passwords up to 100 at a time and up to 24 characters.

Here is a sampling of random strings created by the "Random String Generator" at


10 Strings. 8 Characters each. 

How many possible combinations are there of 8 character (alphabet)names?
208 billion. 
How many combinations with 9 characters?
4 Trillion
How many with 10 characters?
140 Trillion. 

So one of the possible applications for Randomly Generated Domain Names is here:

Personally encrypted login pages.

For Example:

This is the technology:


Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS) is a communications protocol for secure communication over a computer network, with especially wide deployment on the Internet. Technically, it is not a protocol in and of itself; rather, it is the result of simply layering the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) on top of the SSL/TLS protocol, thus adding the security capabilities of SSL/TLS to standard HTTP communications. The main motivation for HTTPS is to prevent wiretapping and man-in-the-middle attacks.

The key to the personally encrypted/anonymous login page is the following:

Your encrypted login site (encrypted domain name) would be attached to the ip (Internet Protocol Address) of your Internet device.


An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is 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]

Attaching your personal login domain name to your ip address adds an important level of security.

Something in network security terms that is called Multi-factor authentication.

(From Wikipedia)

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.

In case you missed my suggestion-the security applications could be very significant. 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.

Here's the usage:

Randomly generated domain name.
Free (encrypted) website/login page.
Only you can access it because it is attached to the ip address of your device.

Login could be for one service or many.

First of all, randomly generated (nonsensical) domain names would not be cataloged by the search engines. They would be anonymous (WHOIS data is protected) and much more difficult to track and identify. Or or even better registered by a third party so there would be no personal data stored or involved.)

According to a Google initiative outlined here in a Wall Street Journal article dated August 7, 2014:

Google hopes the move will prod website developers to adopt technology that protects against hackers breaking into their websites and stealing users' information.
"We hope to see more websites using HTTPS in the future," Google said in a blog post, referring to the protocol for securing communications over digital networks.

So does that all fit the few lines of description that are listed on the Google LogAnon project link that I post again here?

LogAnon is a log anonymization library that helps having anonymous logs consistent between logs and network captures.
LogAnon mission statement is to: Provide a simple API Written in C with Python bindings Cross-platform

Also, can facial recognition, biometrics and voice recognition all be utilized as well in such a LogAnon program?

You tell me.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Second Wind for .US?

By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

Is the .US  Domain Extension Going Postal?

.US is the Internet country code top-level domain (ccTLD) for the United States and was established in 1985. Registrants of .us domains must be United States citizens, residents, or organizations, or a foreign entity with a presence in the United States. (according to

The big question for me is why the .us domain name extension has lagged so far behind other ccTLD extensions to date? An updated list of total ccTLD registrations at the end of 2013 is here (note .us in the 15th slot. Just behind Canada.)

.tk  20 million
.de 15 million
.uk 10.6 million
.cn 8.8 million
.nl 5.4 million
.ru 4.5 million
 .eu 3.7 million
.br 3.3 million
.ar 3.0 million
.au 2.7 million
.fr 2.7 million
.it 2.6 million
.pl 2.5 million
.ca 2.2 million
.us 1.9 million

There was a very interesting news release this past summer from the Neustar ( Registry regarding the .us domain name extension.  The release is here: Neustar to Launch usTLD Stakeholder Council.

This article got me to thinking about just what the registry and Stakeholder Council is up to. That is in regards to the development of the (massively underutilized) .us domain name extension.

From this article regarding the Council:

The Charter of this new Council sets its Scope of Work as follows:
The Council will address matters related to the operation of the usTLD in the interest of the usTLD user community. The work of the Council will be focused on:
  1. Recommending to Neustar policies and other improvements to the management of the usTLD;
  2. Ensuring that the needs of current usTLD domain name holders are considered in the management of the usTLD;
  3. Providing input on mechanisms to enhance and improve the user experience and utility of the usTLD space; and
  4. Improvements to the security within the usTLD and stable management of the space.

    This is from the Councils principles and policies:

    The Council’s Guiding Principles and Policies include:
    • The usTLD must continue to serve the needs of existing Registrants, support innovative new uses of the name space, and respect the rights of consumers and rights holders.
    • Innovation in the usTLD space should promote the public interest and benefit both commercial and noncommercial usTLD stakeholders.
    So I started to think about who or what entity will end up taking the .us domain name extension to the next level if that actually does happen?

    There is one public entity that came to mind that could do it and the reasoning relates to something that has been in the news a good deal lately.

    The entity of the US Postal Service and the mechanism could potentially be through postal banking and financial services.

    Some of you already know that the US Postal Service is in the process of very possibly expanding their offerings of financial services. The USPS already offers some financial services such as postal money orders and other basic services. The US Postal Service does have a history of offering expanded services earlier this century and successfully so. As it turns out, Postal financial services is already a fairly widespread practice in many foreign countries.

    Here is a whitepaper (published this year) by none other than the US Post Office Inspector General regarding the USPS offering expanded banking services: Providing Non-Bank Financial Services to the Underserved.

    A few more recent articles on the subject here:

    Should the Post Office Offer Financial Services?

    Could Plan to Offer Financial Servics Save the Post Office?

    What Happens if the Post Office is your Bank?

    How to Save the Post Office?

    Yes, People Would Bank at the Post Office.

    So why would the US Postal Service use the .us domain name extension to propagate its newly developed banking and financial services?

    The answer is that many foreign countries are already offering expanded financial and banking services through their countries postal services.

    Most of those countries also use their own country code domain name extensions (ccTLDs) for identification and clarity.

    The use of the .us domain name extension may very well become a necessity for the US Postal Service. Particularly, if they go down this road of banking and expanded financial services to their customers. Especially with the accelerating trend of these services moving online.

    Here are just a few examples of Postal Services who use their country code domain names for Postal Financial Services. (Banco Posta) (Spanish Post)

    Here's an example to show another level of confusion and to enforce my point. actually goes to a German bank. 

    If I were the US Postal Service, I'd be looking at .us.

    Thursday, October 16, 2014

    The Fallout from the (gTLD) Rollout

    By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

    Could the .com, .net, .org, .info and .biz extensions be in a prime position?

    Many are talking about the new flood of new domain name extensions that are being poured onto the open marketplace. Some of the new extensions are .app, .buy, .bank, .cash, .city, diet, .film, .game, .golf, .home., .law, .mail, .movie, .news, .online, .sale, .shop, .tech, .web, .wow and .zone. The grand total of new extensions may be upwards of 1000 when all is said and done (for this round anyway).
    There certainly will be significant fallout from the rollout of the new domain name extensions. The question is of course what exactly will that be? Some of it we do already know and some of it (the fallout) remains to be seen.

    What I want to focus on is what impact with the new domain name extensions have on the "old guard extensions" such as .com, .net, .org, .info, and biz. Maybe I am an "Internet traditionalist" or I just have a hard time letting go. However, I will admit that some of these "old and worn out" extensions are near and dear to my heart. For example I have written extensively regarding the unique lofty position that the .com domain name extension holds in the Internet and real world landscape.

    It is probably fair to say that I am very fond of the .com extension. Also, that I have no fear that any one of the (upwards of 1000) new domain name extensions will ever overtake or even in popularity. (sorry .app, .shop and .web).

    But since I'm looking back (to the old guard extensions) and not forward to the flood of new extensions, I have a few points I want to make.

    Look for the .biz extension to have new life breathed into it. Many have written the .biz extension off at this point. Don't be so sure. What I'm seeing is for .biz to be branded as the "home business" and "mobile business" extension. Telecommuting and telework is the rage. .Biz may just surprise you. We (my company DONASYS) already has some projects in development on .biz names.
    Look for .info and .net to be rejuvinated as well. All of the (upwards of 1000) new domain name extensions if anything are going to raise all of our consciousness regarding what domain names can be in our lives and how they can be used by us all for out own benefit and convenience. .INFO and .net are short and very intuitive. Something that you cant say for a large majority of the new extensions. I do believe that many of the new longer extensions will struggle. They have to many characters and are not intuitive.

    The .org domain name extension generally occupies territory unique to itself. From Wikipedia we have this:

    The domain name org is a generic top-level domain (gTLD) of the Domain Name System (DNS) used in the Internet. The name is truncated from organization. It was one of the original domains established in 1985 and operated by the Public Interest Registry since 1988. The domain extension was originally created for non-profits, but this designation no longer exists and today it is commonly used by schools, open-source projects, and communities as well as by for-profit entities.

    There are no new real challengers to org. A few entities are making the attempt such as .ngo and .ong (for non-governmental organizations) however I don't believe that .org should be worried. .Org is to non-profits as .com is to the commercial Internet. No challengers and no challengers respectively.

    So now I step down from my soapbox and make just a few final conclusions on this essay.

    I (still) really like .com, .net, org, .biz and .info.

    I like some of the new extensions too. Just haven't bought any yet. That is what we call a "wait and see attitude."

    Until I see differently, .com is still my king.

    Tuesday, September 2, 2014

    The Lost Art of Email.

    By Duane J. Higgins, ceo

    Is email a dying breed? With the advent of texting and messaging apps there is certainly an argument to make that email has lost some of its luster with the "in crowd." . Electronic communication has a very interesting history that is well summarized here on a site called Imagining the Internet:

    A brief historical overview: The printing press was the big innovation in communications until the telegraph was developed. Printing remained the key format for mass messages for years afterward, but the telegraph allowed instant communication over vast distances for the first time in human history. Telegraph usage faded as radio became easy to use and popularized; as radio was being developed, the telephone quickly became the fastest way to communicate person-to-person; after television was perfected and content for it was well developed, it became the dominant form of mass-communication technology; the internet came next, and newspapers, radio, telephones, and television are being rolled into this far-reaching information medium.

    Is email going the way of  telegraph services which are still used to varying degrees worldwide- however on a limited basis?

    Well, not likely.

    Certainly email is not dying or even a lost art.  In fact, from the numbers point of view-email may be as big or bigger and more used than ever. However, there is certainly a perception that email is a dying breed and that is of course due to the advent and increased usage of social networks,  texting. and messaging apps. Despite those trends email remains one of the most popular forms of online communication. 

    I am not anti-texting or messaging. I have just never done it. I also do realize that there will very likely be a point in time (maybe when and if I ever do get my first smartphone) that I become a "texter" myself. That just hasn't happened yet.

    Here are my problems with texting.

    For one thing texting and messaging apps are almost almost single handedly ruining grammar and sentence structure.  The more people text the more they get comfortable with poor grammar and sentence structure. Habit becomes reality. Bad grammar becomes the norm. It's happening as we speak in hundreds of languages and cultures around the world.

    Formative minds develop habits and styles of communications.  The studies on this have been mostly inconclusive. However, I am willing to say that texting is having a significantly negative influence on grammar and sentence structure in our youth. 

    Just wait until a few generations get through the their texting life cycles.What will peoples grammar and sentence structure look like then? I suspect not improved and likely deteriorated. Texting and messaging is not going to help. There is an interesting article here on this subject:  How Texting Affects Grammar and Sentence Structure:

    A slow drip of deterioration. It is inevitable.

    Does this represent the decline of civilization?

    Probably not. Just the decline of language structure and personal etiquette in that a large chunk of users won't sound or look so smart. 

    Second of all and unfortunately no secret. Texting and driving causes alot of traffic accidents and fatalities. 

    And by the way. There is no real etiquette with texting.

    With email you have what are considered to be basic email etiquette tips. A quick search of the Internet will produce thousands of guidelines for proper email manners. Here's just a short list that is a good place to start from :

    What are some of the generally accepted email etiquette practices?

    Courteous greeting and closing
    Appropriate level of formality
    Proper grammar and spelling
    Sentence structure
    Appropriate level of emotional charge
    Complete sentences
    Brief and to the point

    How much of this type of etiquette is included in the average text message?

    Generally little or none.

    How often to you see promoted (or do you see anyone following) texting or messaging etiquette tips?

    You don't because there really aren't any.

    Email is done on the persons own time. The sender and the recipient. With texting the expectation is that the response will be immediate. The grammar/sentence structure is (generally) much better in email over texting.  Check your own emails and texts and compare them.  Email also affords you the time and space to elaborate. If the communication can't be in person at the time or accomplished on a phone call, email can very suitable substitute. Texting mostly lacks depth of thought or emotion. Email is generally more thoughtful.

    One more argument against texting and messaging and for email.

    What would happen if suddenly we were no longer able to text or message?

    Would anyone really miss it?

    Or would we all adapt and move on?

    That being said. I wonder when I will get my first smartphone and start texting?

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    Is that a "Splinternet" that I see?

    By Duane Higgins, ceo

    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. 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

    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:



    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

    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

    Valuation factors to consider when researching comparable sales include:
    • TLD (top level domain)
    • Length
    • Words (number of)
    • Numbers
    • Hyphens
    • Misspelling
    • 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 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 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

    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

    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

    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,

    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

    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.

    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.”
    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 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.


    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. 

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    The Internet of Domains (IoD).

    By Duane J. Higgins, ceo and
    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 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 (IoT) all have to do with Internet domain names?
    That remains to be seen as well.
    However, 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.
    The beginning of that process may start here (also from the aforementioned Computerworld article.):
    "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.
    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 jumping forward to a recent article dated Jan 23, 2015 titled: Why Google's Eric Schmidt says the 'Internet will disappear'. Schmidt is saying that:
    "There will be so many IP addresses, so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won't even sense it," Schmidt said. "It will be part of your presence all the time."
    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.
    So 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?
    One potential application may 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 useful.
    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 userdomain/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 another real-life proposed application that could account for potentially billions of 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.):
    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.