May 2008                 DNJournal.com               The Domain Industry News Magazine

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Full Steam Ahead: There Will Be No Summer Doldrums on the Domain Conference Circuit

We normally send out our monthly newsletter in the final week of each month but over the last 10 days in May I was away covering the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. East conference in Orlando, then busy writing our comprehensive show review article. As a result our May issue is arriving in your email box in early June.

In another sign of explosive industry growth 2008 has the busiest conference schedule in industry history. I was planning to go to the Domainer Meeting in Paris, France June 19-20, but my wife Diana has to undergo knee surgery (for a torn meniscus) June 18 so I will have to stay Stateside to help her get around during rehab. 

Diana is expected to recover in time to accompany me to the 2008 GeoDomain Expo, coming up at the W Hotel - City Center in Chicago July 10-12. We really enjoyed our first GeoDomain Expo last November in San Francisco and are looking forward to again seeing the many new friends we made at that show. This is an an exceptionally bright, hardworking group of entrepreneurs that are a great source of knowledge and inspiration.

Chicago - The Windy City will host 
the 2008 GeoDomain Expo July 10-12

In addition to covering the show for you I will have the honor of moderating a Saturday afternoon session July 12 called GeoDomains in the News. I'm going to have a top notch panel to call on including former Wall Street Journal reporter David Kesmodel who just published a book on the industry called The Domain Game. The dais will also feature Elliot Silver (ElliotsBlog.com), Ezra James (Modern Domainer magazine) and Steven Morales (SimplyGeo.com). That's an all-star line-up in my book.

The GeoDomain Expo is a refreshing change of pace because it is the only show where the focus is squarely on development. That is something I think all domainers would be wise to learn more about now that the past year of declining PPC revenues has shown how dangerous

it is to rely on just one revenue stream. Yes, developing is hard work and there are no guarantees of success but if you can build a viable site with direct advertiser support on just one of your best domains you will have an ace in the hole that can carry you through turbulent times and any twist or turn that Google or Yahoo! decides to throw at you. Having your future in your own hands provides piece of mind that is priceless.

In addition to being a great place to learn more about developing sites, the GeoDomain Expo will provide tips on forging those key contacts with the advertisers who will pay the bills. The Expo also has one of the lowest registration rates in the domain conference field, $695, and an early bird special good through June 8 can knock that down to just $595 if you act right away. Considering the quality of people and information that will be available to attendees, that is a tremendous bargain.

There will be a lot of changes at this show. I think most significant for our readers is the fact that the conference, previously focused on pure city .com only domains, is now open to people with any kind of geo domain in any extension, whether they be pure city domains like Chicago.com (or Chicago,us, etc.) or just geo targeted names like ChicagoRestaurants.com (or .org, .info, etc). I think that is a great move that will bring in a lot of new faces and new ideas that will take an already excellent show to the next level.

Speaking of the next level, one of the world's top local media consulting companies, the Kelsey Group, has signed on as co-presenters of the event and the company's co-founder and chairman, John Kelsey, will be the keynote speaker. Kelsey's involvement moves this event into the big leagues. I hope to see many of your there. 

John Kelsey
2008 GeoDomain Expo 
Keynote Speaker

WIPO Panel Finds Domain Parking to Be a Legitimate Use

Domain owners have been under steady attack over the past year as covetous parties seek to find ways to separate domain owners from their assets without paying fair market value for them (the Snowe Bill being one of many examples of this). One tack the opposition has taken 

Ari Goldberger - noted attorney 
won a key WIPO case that 
upheld parking as a legitimate use.

in an effort to reverse hijack domains is to claim that parking them is a sign of bad faith and an illegitimate use. 

In the face of such baseless charges it was heartening to hear from one of the world's top domain attorneys, Ari Goldberger (ESQwire.com), that he won a decision in a WIPO case last month in which the three-man panel ruled that parking is a legitimate use (with one panelist dissenting). The case was Super Supplements, Inc. vs. Vertical Axis, Inc. (whom Ari represented) in a dispute over Vertical's domain SuperSupplements.com

In their decision, the panel wrote "in many cases, including cases in which the present Respondent has been a respondent, panels have found that the provision of such click-through services do constitute a bona fide offering of the service unless the bona fides of the offering is tainted by evidence of bad faith, see for example, Williams, Babbitt & Weisman, Inc, v. Ultimate Search, NAF Case No. 98813 and Nursefinders, Inc. v. Vertical Axis, WIPO Case No. 

D2007-0417. In the opinion of the majority of the Panel such services are now a common business practice and there is no evidence of bad faith in Respondentís adoption and use of the disputed domain name in providing such a service."

WIPO and UDRP decision have overwhelmingly gone against domain owners in the past (they lose an estimated 85% of the time). Of course many of those losses are slam dunk trademark infringements that the domain owners should have lost - but there have also been egregious cases of non-infringing generic domains (like LH.com recently) being unjustifiably taken away. The sensible and fair decision rendered in the SuperSupplements.com case gives us some hope that the "parking" smear tactic will be put out to pasture where it belongs. 

Dr. Chris Hartnett to Be Featured in Our Upcoming June Cover Story

We are spending this weekend wrapping up work on our June Cover Story that is to be published Monday (June 9). I've often heard veteran domainers speculate on who might be the 
first billionaire to come out of this business. As it happens, we already have one entrepreneur in this space who has tasted that heady level of success in previous business ventures. 

Dr. Chris Hartnett completely  revolutionized the global telecommunications industry with a company he founded called USA Global Link. His meteoric rise in the business world almost killed him though. When his weight dropped below 100 pounds Hartnett had to sell his company (to Deutsche Telekom and Worldcom) to save his life. 

Fortunately Hartnett is back on his feet today and enjoying his new business life and growing circle of friends in the domain word. I've met very few people, especially who have experienced his level of success, that have managed to stay as well grounded as Chris has. His personal story is truly remarkable and I am looking forward to bringing it to you a few days from now. 

Dr. Chris Hartnett

 


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