In a mockery to the the ITAA’s bullshit event last week, I present to you reverse domain hijacking.

What is it? Reverse domain name hijacking is when a trademark owner fraudulantly claims a trademark interest with a Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy with WIPO. If the domain owner fails to make a case, there is a good chance the complaintant gets the domain name.

Italian tire company, Pirelli, has decided it would really like to own the domain name zero.us. Problem is, someone else already owns it. Pirelli has filed a claim stating — “In view of these circumstances, there is no reasonable possibility that the domain name was selected by (the) respondent for any purpose other than a brazen attempt to create a likelihood of confusion with (the) complainant’s mark as to the source, sponsorship, affiliation, or endorsement of respondent’s Web site.

Hmm.. generic word, zero. Website present has nothing to do with tires. Good thing the owner has an experienced domain lawyer on his side.

How embarassing for the person who named this event — “Internet “Click Fraud” Tricks: Domain Name Tasting, Joy Riding, Parking, Kiting and Other Dirty Tricks -a Webcast & In-Person Briefing.” Unfortunately the ITAA is a powerful trade group, members including Motorola and Microsoft.

As Frank Schilling points out in his domain name blog, these guys are up to no good.

Cross eyed confusion like this opens up big doors for lawyers and snake oil “anti-fraud” salesmen. Remember the whole Yahoo click fraud lawsuit? Checkmate Strategic Group pocketed $5 million, Yahoo had their click fraud slate wiped clean not only of fraudulant clicks but also “unwanted clicks, unqualified clicks, improper clicks, non-converting clicks, inadequately converting clicks.”

I can understand and accept confusions with all of this jargon. Its hard to keep track of. However, I get pissed when the word fraud is casually slung around legitimate online business. Last time it was an AOL blogger who called said PPC arbitragers con artists. This time its different. If we don’t crack down on loose language we may wake up to find a legal system that writes our businesses out of the picture.

Back in July of 2006 I made a blog post about just how horrible Registerfly was. Yesterday ICANN announced Registerfly.com’s accredidation has been terminated, effective March 31st.

The story isn’t over yet, now ICANN has to figure out how to make sure the domains return to their rightful owners. Not an easy task when you are dealing with a company run by an alleged con artist and embezzler. I expect in a year or so this will make for a nice 10-page story in Wired magazine..

Registerflies is reporting that the judge in the Registerfly case is returning control over to alleged con artist Kevin Medina. ICANN has suspended deletions for .org’s and is attempted to do the same for .com’s and .net’s. The sky isn’t falling — it has fallen. Game over.

I’m hearing recommendations that users log into their Registerfly accounts and delete all credit card information. With the allegations flying, this guy is basically a criminal who is going to be facing prison time anyways. Registerflies.com reports Registerfly is recieving a 55%+ chargeback rate. If true, they will be toast very soon, if not within days. Of course that doesn’t really matter since Registerfly is about to get the boot from ICANN.

I still have a handful of valuable domain names which I have been unable to extract from Registerfly. The best stuff is out, so we’ll just see what happens. The good news is my personal damages should remain under $10,000 from this disaster.

Thank God that ICANN finally took notice of Registerfly. This has pushed the story to the front pages of many web sites, and perhaps sometime soon, newspapers and other print publications.

Its no secret, the domain industry is relatively free from regulation. This is not a bad thing. The last thing we as internet entrepreneurs need is licences to own domain names. Unfortunately this has left the doors wide open for domain name exploitation and theft.

I sincerely hope that this results in lawsuits against not only Registerfly but also other domain registrars involved in questionable practices. Domain names are property. Registrars should be held to strict standards and not simply be farms to harvest their customer’s assets.

Well before Registerfly was given the boot by Enom I sent out e-mail alerts that Registerfly was approaching critical mass as a historical disaster. I got minimal response. This story still deserves a serious journalistic investigation. Me, I am just a business developer and casual blogger. I can only point you in the right direction. Make no mistake, big changes are underway because money does talk.

Its about time someone, with some credibility and standing in the domain industry actually pointed out what the hell is going on over at Registerfly.

Since Registerfly really went down the tubes (its been happening all along, but the past 2-3 months its reached critical mass), I was waiting for some domain company, any company at all, to capitalize on the problem. Bob Parsons, the founder/owner of GoDaddy finally has.

Apparently much of Registerfly’s problems are being blamed on shareholder and “key employee” Kevin Medina. A lawsuit posted on Registerflies.com alleges Kevin Medina embezzled money from Registerfly Inc. Apparently Registerfly fired him on the 18th, but he decided to go postal (digitally) and really fuck some stuff up at Registerfly. As far as I can tell, this is a nightmare scenario for an internet company. On the positive side, may be if this guy is an actual crook, he’ll be spending some time in prison.

Then again, what if Kevin is just a scape goat for the rest of Registerflys owners? I have to call into question their credibility as well because the company does not have a good history. For at least the past 12 months Registerfly has had serious customer service problems. If the other owners were merely investing capital, hands off, with little knowledge of the business, then their in-action is explainable.

So what will happen? “In the event Registerfly loses its accreditation, ICANN will work to migrate those customers — who have remained with Registerfly through this disaster — to other registrars.” Still questions remain unanswered, what if you have domain names with privacy protection? Registerfly could easily claim they are the owner. I know my control panel information is completely messed up. Domains that were transferred out weeks ago still show up as registered. Domains renewed until the end of the year show up as expired.

Godaddy.com is offering a transfer special to Registerfly’s victims (hell, the url even has registerfly as the filename!) Not sure exactly how special $6.25 is for Godaddy, but its an offer none the less. One word of warning, Godaddy has been known to suspend domain names for a “ransom” if they recieve certain complaints (namely email.) Considering I run double-optin CAN SPAM compliant newsletters that recieve complaints daily, I’m not to comfortable using them. Otherwise, Godaddy seems to be an ok company, and I’ve had domain names with them for years.

Its going to be a busy, and interesting, week.

Just read this on Slashdot: “ICANN says it will terminate RegisterFly’s accreditation as a domain registrar if the company can’t fix its problems within 15 days

Question, what happens to the domain name portfolios currently registered with them? I’ve been spending the past 3 months trying to get domains out of Registerfly; the process has also left me seriously questioning the credibility of other registrars too, including eNom.

Update
: Registerflies is reporting that Registerfly has been hijacked by a (former?) owner.

I thought I was going to have a chance to snatch some prime internet real estate this weekend, but britneyspearsshavedhead.com has already been registered!

Unfortunately so were my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th picks:

britneybald.com
britneyspearsbald.com
britneyspearsbaldhead.com

If you’d like to cash in, the following names were still available at the time of this post:

britneygetsherheadshaved
britneyregretsshavingherhead.com
britneyspearsisbald.com
shavedheadbritney.com
britneyshavesherhead.com

Britney Spears Bald

(Think thats scary? Look at the original pic.)

Its about time!!! From eNom’s website

“As an eNom reseller, RegisterFly is contractually bound to adhere to certain standards of customer service in a speedy and diligent manner. Despite our warnings, RegisterFly has elected not to abide by the agreed standards as outlined in their eNom reseller agreement. Effective March 9th, RegisterFly will be terminated as an eNom reseller.”

A lot of people are pushing hard to have Registerfly’s ICANN credentials pulled as well. These jokers don’t belong in business.

I was waiting to plug this until their free widget was out, but its two days after the given release date and its still not there. I found an interesting little beta tool from the guys over at DomainTools.com/Whois.sc: Psychic Whois.

When you enter in a domain name, or part of a domain name, a live AJAX drop-down view shows you available or registered names in close proximity. Its confusing, but an interesting way to discover domain names quickly.

Try putting in your favorite blog names (just the beginning, leave out the dot com) you might discover some interesting combinations.