The surreal exchange linked above asks the question if all multiple registrants of domain names (domainers) are 'cybersquatters'. Professor Eric Goldman of the Santa Clara University School of Law just looks bad in this one.
This is a professional who should know better than to try to paint anybody trying to profit with domain names in such an inequitable and unsavory light.
Quote: "Well, that's one of the issues that we're wrestling with in the field is whether domainers are cybersquatters and there's been a strong split of opinion about that topic"..
***FS*** Translation: "Stories of hope and opportunity don't sell as well.. These uneducated folks make more than me .. and I'm tenured!" Let's redefine these entrepreneurs and question their motives."
Quote: "But I'm still wondering, and I still have an open investigation into how many people are really coming to these sites, not because of their fat fingers or their bad typing skills, but because of the fact that these sites are also indexed in the search engines"
***FS*** A simple call to Google will reveal that they aggressively scrub domain parking pages from the Google index. Google wants to control web-search, and navigation is a part of that. Google gives domain registrants with 'advertising only' pages no-quarter.. and no traffic. None of my merchantable traffic comes from Google links.. None of the domainers I know get any of their traffic from search engines. Google scrubs them like crazy.. and most don't care. It's not about 'former site traffic'. Most domainers want organic type-in traffic which comes for the keyword weight, gravity and resonance of the name itself. Not a former site or the activity at a former site. It's about the drawing power of the name-phrase as a generic beacon of interest.
Quote: "There's a couple of reasons why I'm suspect about the long term viability of people typing in domain names into address bars. First of all, so many people got started doing that because if they mistyped things back in the old days, they would get pop ups and porn. And so a lot of people I think learned not to type in domain names into the address bar.. "
***FS*** Boy are you off the mark on this one. People have been typing domain names into the address bar since the dawn of the commercial internet when parking pages consisted of stick-men holding shovels and "under construction" signs - and still people came back and typed these domain names. So now that domain registrants are serving targeted advertising and content mated to the subject matter of the name, they are supposed to get "less" visits? You've got to be kidding. How is this experience any different from searching at Google if the domain name paid-search results are themselves "powered by Google"?
Quote: "...So, instead of using the address bar in their browser, they will use a search tool bar or they will use the field at a search engine to type in the exact same text. So, I'm not entirely clear where these people are coming from."
***FS*** ...and they're interviewing you on this? Aye yay yay...
Prof.. do I hear a bell?.. because you need some schooling on generic name domaining vs. bold-faced cybersquatting.. Normally narrow mindedness and ignorance don't get my gall.. but you're an educator and I expected some more free-form thinking from you.
The most zesty and inequitable part of the interview goes along the lines of:
Quote: "The trademark owner says if someone is typing in my trademark into their address bar, they are looking for me, and if somebody interposes between the consumer and me, and offers that user the ability to go somewhere else; for example, to my competitors; that person is stealing business from me ..
***FS*** The problem is: not all trademarks are created equally.. and anything can be trademarked by anyone. It depends on the date of the mark, the class of services.. etc etc. If somebody gets a trademark on the word "blue" for tshirts in 2007, that does not preclude the domainer and owner of the valuable URL blue.com from selling "paint" or "cheese". It certainly doesn't make that registrant a cybersquatter. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the holder of the "blue" t-shirt word-mark from trying to unseat the legitimate registrant of the blue.com URL by incorrectly and unfairly maligning said registrant as a "cybersquatter".
Many parties can have a legitimate interest in a domain name for paid search or development and it is not for inequitable, covetous latecomers to say when a domain registrant should develop their name or how that name should be developed.
Accusing legal registrants of valuable generic domain names of running "an illegitimate business" is not a balanced or equitable viewpoint.
To be fair to this nutty professor.. he does redeem himself a bit with this ditty: "in theory, domainers are saying we know that you may have typed in something and we are going to try and help you figure out what you are looking for... That way, perhaps domainers are actually helping consumers get from where they try to go to their ultimate destination."
Again, not all domain registrants (domainers) who try to profit from domain names, deliberately target trademarks. Trademark rights can be claimed by 'anyone' for 'anything' and often those rights "can not" be claimed to exclude others from using the same generic word or phrase for an unrelated purpose.
Many of the domainers I know are essentially the largest trademark holders in the world.. they use intellectual property which they had the foresight to register in order to sell products and services on the Internet. If professor Eric Goldman can be shamed for anything, it's failing to view these large scale commercial name registrants as trademark holders in their own right.
The fact that many existing trademark holders world-wide missed the opportunity of their lifetime (and their children's lifetime) to be first-to-register generic domain names similar to their marks does not give them the ability to rewrite history and unseat those who saw what they didn't.
Thank God for capitalism, free enterprise, trademark law (precedent) and competing bay area universities with more open-minded teaching faculty.