2017-03-12

News Review: 1. Trademark Squatters; 2. ICANN "Highly Political, Toxic"

News Review | ©2016 DomainMondo.com
Domain Mondo's weekly review of internet domain news:

Features • 1. Domain Name Threats from "Trademark Squatters"; 2. ICANN's Sick, Toxic Organizational Culture; 3. Who should be fired? ICANN Management Organization Chart; 4.  Uniregistry to hike prices for some new gTLDs; 5. Root Stability Study Final Report; 6. Florida passes Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act; 7. Roth conference: Rightside and Web.com; 8. ICANN58, Rightscon, IETF 98; 9. ICANN's CCT Review; 10. Other Internet Domain News; 11. Most Popular Posts.

1. New Domain Name Threats from "Trademark Squatters"
Graphic: Avoiding trademark and domain name scams
Avoiding trademark and domain name scams | Dentons | JDSupra.com"... 3. Do not reply to suspicious emails, even to indicate a lack of interest. Scammers use these replies to gather additional information about your company, and to identify which companies they will continue to target .... 6. Be aware that in Canada, trademark laws are changing and it will soon be possible to register a trademark in the country without ever having used it in Canada or anywhere else in the world. This will leave any of your [domain names and] unregistered brands open for exploitation by trademark squatters and pirates ..." (emphasis added)

Incompetent and gullible ICANN has already fallen prey to the "Trademark Squatters"--ICANN's Special Privileges for Trademark Owners are The.Worst | Electronic Frontier Foundation | eff.org"... ICANN's acquiescence to even the most outlandish demands of the trademark lobby [e.g., IPC and INTA] has also set a precedent enabling some registries to go even further; for example, the registry Donuts (which we recently exposed as an architect of the copyright-blocking Healthy Domains Initiative) offers a DPML-Plus program that allows brand owners to block registrations not only of their registered marks, but also substrings, misspellings and variants of those marks, across hundreds of domains, for a period of ten years. We are aware of no national trademark system anywhere in the world that provides such extensive privileges to brand owners. Neither is there any convincing reason why the domain industry should be providing them with such privileges. Today's letter to ICANN exposes this scam and calls upon ICANN to stop being so solicitous to brand owners at the expense of other legitimate users of the domain name system. In particular, we are very clear that ICANN should not extend the Trademark Clearinghouse to top-level domains that it doesn't already cover, such as the most widely used domains .com, .org, and .net. ..." (emphasis added).

See also: Why Did ICANN Become a Member of Trademark Lobbyist Group INTA? DomainMondo.com 15 Oct 2015.

Letter referenced in the above article embedded below--Trademark Scholars Letter to ICANN GNSO RPM Working Group:

Final note: This Guy Would Fit In Perfectly at ICANN:"One of the attorneys behind the Prenda Law "copyright trolling" scheme has pleaded guilty to federal charges of fraud and money laundering. After years of denial, John Steele admitted Monday that he and co-defendant Paul Hansmeier made more than $6 million by threatening Internet users with copyright lawsuits ..."--arstechnica.com.

2. ICANN's Sick, Toxic Organizational Culture:
At last count, there are 37 reviews of ICANN on Glassdoor.com and they reveal a sick and toxic organizational culture at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN):

Interesting Work, Nepotism Alive and Well, Lousy Management  "Mar 9, 2017, review by Current ICANN Employee - Project Manager in Los Angeles, CA - I have been working at ICANN full-time (more than 3 years):
  • Pros: The work is highly challenging, smart people, unique company like no other in the world, interesting mix of highly technical people, legal talent and everything in between. A bottoms up policy organization with the two largest groups of professionals either having law or engineering degrees. Smart people, learn something new everyday.
  • ConsFar and few respected executive managers. Management is out of touch, get promoted based on relationships, politics, nepotism and incompetence far far far more than other organizations. This company operates like a out-of-control insane 20 person start-up. With a shake-up in management maybe it will grow up to behave like the medium size organization it is.
  • Advice to Management--Clean house--Realize who should actually be in management and promote them! Tons and tons of managment does not make for good leadership. Less managers, real leaders would go a long way to make this the great organization it should be." (emphasis added)
Here's another:
Mar 10, 2017,  ICANN"Where Good Careers go to Die" - Former Employee: I worked at ICANN full-time
  • Pros: Highly political if you like that sort of thing.
  • Cons: Can be a toxic, draining, soul sucking experience.
  • Advice to Management: Fire yourselves.

3.  Who should be fired? ICANN Management Organization Chart, Mar 1, 2017 (pdf) embed:

ICANN organizational culture has definitely been impacted by the conflicts of interest, incompetence, dishonesty and the evident cronyism during the last administration, which reminds me of this past week's comments by Peter Thiel: Globalization is over--just a group of people who "messed up the world"--[ICANNWEF, or both?]:
"The internet was designed to survive a nuclear war, but even so, I think there are a lot of regulatory challenges that Silicon Valley will be facing from Western Europe and elsewhere in the years ahead ... There's a technological determinism story you can tell where this is the future and China will eventually buckle under and cave and eventually adopt all of these things, but then you might wonder, maybe this doesn't happen at all, and maybe it's possible for the internet to actually fragment and not to have this historical necessity to it ... No one in their right mind would start an organization with the word "global" in its title today, that's so 2005, it feels so dated." --Peter Thiel, Mar 7, 2017, at the CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference in Houston (emphasis added),
To illustrate his point, Thiel took aim at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos: "A decade ago, this was a group of people who were running the world," he said. "And now, it's just a group of people who messed up the world."

4. Uniregistry plans to hike prices up to 3000% for some new gTLDs:
Graphic: Uniregistry plans to hike prices up to 3000% for some new gTLDs
Everyone has a plan 'till they get punched in the mouth.--Mike Tyson
Some new gTLDs at Uniregistry getting massive price hikes | gTLD.Link--price increases of up to 3000% starting September 8--which generated negative and angry postings and comments in the domaining blogosphere to which Uniregistry's Frank Schilling finally responded on the blog post titled Frank Schilling just killed the New gTLD domain name program (Warning!) | onlinedomain.com--excerpt (emphasis added):
Frank Schilling: "... Making this change will give us the ability to lower prices and raise them ... our regulator [ICANN] dictates that “raising” prices requires this notice ... When we originally wrote our applications and applied for new gTLD’s, no registry operator knew there would be 1000 applications or that we would have some extensions with under 5,000 registrations. We’re pivoting to deal with that business reality ... There is a real cost to putting on a registry operation ... when we applied we put forth our best plan and best intentions. Now, after a reveal of 1000 extensions and after years of evolution, we are assessing business realities and we are pivoting for the good of our spaces and our registry. I understand that nobody likes that ... I am doing what I need to do for these namespaces to be successful. I also invested (many tens of millions) ... Regarding: “Registrants are not part of your company and are not required to and should not be forced to pivot anything.” When you invest in any namespace you do so under the rules of the registry. The tail doesn’t wag the dog. We have issued a press release to registrars which I hope will explain our repricing of these namespaces further ..." (emphasis added)
I haven't seen any Uniregistry press release about this passed along from registrars to domain name registrants. But at least Frank Schilling has been honest about what's coming. ICANN, most of ICANN's new gTLDs' registry operators, and many of their registrars, abhor transparency when it comes to new gTLDs' price increases. The ill-conceived and misbegotten new gTLDs program has been designed to rip-off domain name registrants from day one, and ICANN is now in the process of removing the last vestige of price increase transparency from its base new gTLDs registry agreement. Also note tweets by @GeorgeKirikos and Rick Schwartz‏ @DomainKing, including this.

Editor's note: I have been warning domain name registrants for years of the pricing unpredictability of new gTLDs, while many domaining bloggers who chose to tout and promote the new gTLDs, are now somehow outraged that this could happen. Caveat Emptor! See also New gTLD Domains, the Walking Dead and Dying, ICANN FY15 Results | DomainMondo.com and my comment less than two weeks ago:
"The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as ICANN, mismanaged the global DNS and damaged the competitive global market for domain names by grossly over-expanding the number of new generic top-level domains (new gTLDs), beginning in 2014. As a result, many new gTLD registry operators are financially struggling, and after more than three years, many are still unprofitable."

5. Root Stability Study Final Report Now Available | ICANN.orgReport (pdf) p. 44: "However, the absence of an observed degradation of the security and stability of the root DNS system is no reason to be less cautious for possible future impact of the New gTLD Program ... We advise the New gTLD Program to retain a controlled rate of delegating new gTLDs. Further, we advise more frequent monitoring of the impact of new gTLD delegations, in order to obtain more detailed insight and to identify and respond to events impacting root DNS system stability on a short time scale ..." 

6. Florida Passes the Florida Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act | Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP | JDSupra.comWhat is a “digital asset? "The Act defines “digital assets” as electronic records that are transmitted or stored on digital devices or the internet. Commonly used digital assets include documents (Adobe PDF, MS Word, spreadsheets, etc.), domain names or blogs, email accounts, social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, etc.), online user accounts (banks, PayPal, Venmo, etc.), and digital currency (for example, credits with online vendors such as iTunes)."

7. Roth conference March 12-15, 2017:
Domain name registrar and registry services provider Rightside $NAME CEO Taryn Naidu, and CFO Tracy Knox, are scheduled to present at the 29th Annual ROTH Conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, CA, on Monday, March 13, 2017, at 7:00 am PT / 10:00 am ET. The presentation will be available through a live audio webcast accessible from the investors section of Rightside's website at http://investors.rightside.co/ (and archived there for 90 days) or here or on the Roth conference website by registering for the webcasts. Almost 500 other companies are presenting, including domain name registrar Web.com Group Inc. $WEB on Monday, March 13, 2017, at 8am PT / 11am ET (available via Roth webcast).

8. Meetings:
 ICANN58 | Copenhagen
  • ICANN58 in Copenhagen, Denmark, continues through March 16. More info here.
  • RightsCon Summit Series: March 29-31, 2017, Brussels, Belgium. "RightsCon is the world’s leading event on the future of the internet."
  • IETF 98: March 26-31, 2017, Swissotel Chicago, 323 East Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL

9. CCT Review | ICANN.org March 7, 2017: Competition, Consumer Trust and Consumer Choice Review Team Draft Report of Recommendations for new gTLDs--the full report [PDF, 3.91 MB]; Public Comment Period closes 27 April 2017, excerpt:
"Looking at trust of new gTLDs specifically, the survey found that while consumer end users do not trust new gTLDs nearly as much as they do legacy gTLDs .... The report of draft recommendations makes a distinction between registrants and end-users. Registrants refers to purchasers of domain names, not end-users." .... Key Findings and Recommendations - Data Collection: Formalize and promote ongoing data collection, as the lack of data has handicapped attempts both internally and externally to evaluate market trends and the success of policy recommendations. Competition: ICANN should collect wholesale and retail price data from all gTLD registries and registrars to better inform future CCT reviews. Engage in a systematic collection of data on secondary market prices and country-level data on market competition ..."

10. Internet Domain News Quick Takes:

11. Most popular posts (# of pageviews Sun-Sat) this past week on DomainMondo.com:
  1. News Review: China Will 'Vigorously' Promote the Reform of ICANN
  2. Net Neutrality: Senate Oversight Hearing of the FCC, March 8, 10am ET
  3. TechReview | After Snap's Successful $SNAP Tech IPO, Who's Next?
  4. Scott Galloway: Snapchat $SNAP Is a Loser & Could 'Torch the Market'

-- John Poole, Editor, Domain Mondo 

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