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In the largest cybersquatting judgment ever, a federal court in the Northern District of California has awarded Verizon $33.15 million in a case in which an Internet domain registration company tried to take advantage of Verizon and Verizon customers by using Internet names chosen to be easily confused with legitimate Verizon names.

The default ruling came in a case filed by Verizon against OnlineNIC, a company based in San Francisco that had unlawfully registered at least 663 domain names that were either identical to or confusingly similar to Verizon trademarks. The court concluded that OnlineNIC’s bad-faith registrations of Verizon-related domain names were designed to attract web users who were seeking to access Verizon’s legitimate websites and calculated an award based on $50,000 per domain name. Neither OnlineNIC nor counsel representing the company appeared in court in OnlineNIC’s defense.

“This case should send a clear message and serve to deter cybersquatters who continue to run businesses for the primary purpose of misleading consumers,” said Sarah Deutsch, Verizon vice president and associate general counsel. “Verizon intends to continue to take all steps necessary to protect our brand and consumers from Internet frauds and abuses.”

Verizon has won a string of similar cases. In three earlier cybersquatting cases, courts granted contested preliminary injunctions against three different violators. Verizon has increased its vigilance in trademark cases as part of its broader effort to protect its brand and put its intellectual property innovations to work.

Verizon’s intellectual property legal group was named one of the five best in the world by the International Law Office, with the support of the Association of Corporate Counsel. The organizations named Verizon a winner in their Global Counsel Awards for 2008, based on an “in-depth analysis of in-house lawyers and legal departments worldwide.”

Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America’s most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 71 million customers nationwide. Verizon’s Wireline operations include Verizon Business, which delivers innovative and seamless business solutions to customers around the world, and Verizon Telecom, which brings customers the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services over the nation’s most advanced fiber-optic network. A Dow 30 company, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of more than 228,000 and last year generated consolidated operating revenues of $93.5 billion. For more information, visit http://www.verizon.com.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s chief financial officer, guest-blogs for Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International, reflecting on the Economy and Marriott’s Prospects for 2009.

Audio Podcast:

“With the slowdown, our stock value has eroded meaningfully in the past year. Just because we have plenty of company doesn’t make the decline any easier. Before things get better, we’re going to have to navigate through a tough 2009… Despite this, and even though the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, we have much to be thankful for. First and foremost, we have a terrific management team, beginning with Bill Marriott, who has been through significant downturns before and has noted that each time we’ve come back stronger…Our business strategy of managing and franchising hotels protects us in slowdowns and primes us for better days. Marriott is a remarkably resilient cash flow generator, even when business slows. Our balance sheet is in good shape and we have access to cash through our revolving line of credit, which has over a billion dollars remaining available. Because of our excellent financial shape, the revolver, as it is called, is free of many of the complex restrictions companies can often experience. In fact, with our solid cash flow and more modest investment spending in 2009, we expect our debt levels will decline next year…”

Marriott People, Places and Purpose:

Continue reading at http://www.blogs.marriott.com/default.asp?item=2298372

Architect Mark Allan recently suffered the loss of his job due to the economic downturn in the housing construction market. Sending out hundreds of resumes did not help his situation, so along with his job search he also spent the last of his savings to develop a construction toy for children. His wife and kids encouraged him to use his advanced 3D computer training and architectural software to develop the prototype models and metal molds. From that point forward, it was just a short step to full plastic production.

As a father and an architect, the inventor, Mr. Allan, realizes that math and science can be intimidating mentally, “But if you can put something in the hands of a child, they will be able to comprehend things better and have more fun,” he says. “Toys influence children; hopefully Qubits(R) will inspire today’s children to expand their horizons to include engineering, chemistry or nanotechnology.”

The economy might be bad, but toys are just as popular as ever. :)

The Qubits Construction Toy can also be purchased on the website, www.Qubits.com

Whether they’re being groomed for acquisition or poised for long-term profit as standalone entities, Web 2.0 startups continue gorging on investors’ millions, according to a new report today from Internet Evolution. Despite the confusion of the current economic climate, “Web 2.0’s Biggest $inkholes” highlights key areas where VCs and angel investors think big Web 2.0 payoffs await:

  • Targeted advertising: JellyCloud couldn’t hack it and $11.5 million later went belly up; Lotame is staying afloat with its $28 million purse.
  • Social networking: All-purpose inbox company Xoopit is working on a $6 million round, while Orgoo is on indefinite hiatus; AOL’s $850 million for Bebo ended up being largely a write-off for the company.
  • Video: Lots of money’s chasing the desire to be the next YouTube – too bad most of the hosted content is porn; Trooker and others are betting there’s a market for video search.
  • Search: Cuil ($33 million) and SearchMe ($43.6 million) might imagine themselves Google killers, or at least viable alternatives. For investors, imagination makes for a crummy investment strategy.
  • Self-publishing/social-publishing: Uber.com and Bricabox litter this landscape, having shuttered themselves as things got rocky. It’s unclear whether ShareNow.com can thrive here.

“These startups are gambling that they’ll be acquired by the dominant players in each of these Web 2.0 sectors – Google, Facebook, YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo,” says Terry Sweeney, Editor in Chief of Internet Evolution. “As if today’s market wasn’t enough of a hindrance, many of these startups also suffer from fuzzy business plans, poor execution, and even crummy company names. Incredibly, that’s not stopping the flow of investment in some below-average companies.”

About Internet Evolution: Internet Evolution hosts more than 100 world-famous Internet experts – such as Kevin Mitnick, once the most-wanted computer hacker in the world; Dr. Lawrence Roberts, inventor of packet switching, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on telecom network architectures; Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.com; Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS); Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity adviser; and Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is killing our culture — all of whom are addressing today’s critical socio-economic issues within its ThinkerNet blogosphere. Internet Evolution also offers broadcast-quality broadband video documentaries and interviews; investigative reports; and user-generated content facilitated via the latest Web 2.0 technology.

About TechWeb: TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market. Today, more than 13.3 million* business technology professionals actively engage in our communities created around our global face-to-face events, Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat, and VoiceCon; online resources such as the TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com, and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet Magazine, MSDN Magazine, and Wall Street & Technology magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services including next-generation performance marketing, integrated media, research, and analyst services. TechWeb is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion.

About United Business Media Limited: United Business Media Limited (UBM) is a global media and marketing services company that informs markets and brings the world’s buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. UBM serves professional and commercial communities, from IT professionals to doctors, from journalists to jewelry dealers, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. UBM employs more than 6,500 people in more than 30 countries. UBM’s businesses operating in the US include CMPMedica, Commonwealth Business Media, Everything Channel, PR Newswire, RISI, TechInsights, TechWeb and Think Services. UBM is listed on the London Stock Exchange (UBM.L) and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

Cheap Chic Weddings announced the winner of their fourth annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress contest at a ceremony at Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium, Times Square. Three finalists were flown in from Illinois, Texas and Hawaii to showcase their hand-made, intricately detailed dresses – which look like regular wedding gowns – in front of a panel of judges.

Laura Gawne and partners Susan Bain and Roxie Radford, who operate the website on saving money on weddings, based the contest on the popular bridal shower game. Cheap-Chic-Weddings.com asked their readers to create wedding gowns and headpieces strictly using Charmin bath tissue, glue and/or tape – no sequins, beads or other “normal” wedding dress adornments.

Toilet Paper Wedding Dress“The level of talent that presents itself each year always amazes us,” said Laura Gawne. Roxie Radford added, “The entries included details like faux embroidery, ruffles, pleats and lace effects!” This year’s first place winner, Katrina Chalifoux of Rockford, IL received a $1,000 American Express gift card. The dresses from all three finalists will be displayed in Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museums! Around the world.

Charmin bath tissue and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! sponsored this year’s top prizes. Wipe it off :)

Citysearch.com is defrauding its advertising customers of millions of dollars by not only turning a blind eye to click fraud, but in fact encouraging it as well, according to a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by Kabateck Brown Kellner, LLP.

“Most click fraud cases involve companies that simply turn a blind eye to it,” said the victims’ attorney, Brian S. Kabateck, Managing Partner of Kabateck Brown Kellner. “Citysearch does this too, since it has no real program to prevent click fraud. But Citysearch goes beyond indifference to actively incentivizing click fraud. Citysearch’s motive is simple: clicks equal cash, whether they’re fraudulent or not.”

Kabateck recently won a multi-million dollar settlement from Yahoo! And was part of an earlier $90 million settlement from Google on behalf of advertisers who were victimized by click fraud. He also recently filed a federal class action suit against Google for fraud within its “AdWords” pay-per-click advertising system.

Citysearch, part of IAC/InterActiveCorp, which is headed by Barry Diller, pays commissions to its salespeople based on the number of clicks their customers’ ads receive, providing an incentive for click fraud, according to the lawsuit. Furthermore, the suit contends, contrary to Citysearch’s own representations to its advertisers, it takes no real steps to prevent click fraud. And when customers become victims of click fraud, Citysearch fails to adequately advise them that they have been victimized or refund the money paid to Citysearch for that fraudulent activity.

The lawsuit seeks to represent all people or entities in the United States who paid money for pay-per-click advertising through Citysearch.com. As detailed within the suit, the case of plaintiff Tom Lambotte shows Citysearch refusing to acknowledge blatant indications of click fraud.

Lambotte’s Citysearch ad received a total of 7 clicks (plus two more that he generated) between December 11 and 25, 2007. On December 26 he received a response from Citysearch to his December 22 request to cancel his ad. Suddenly, his ad began receiving 12 to 16 clicks a day, for a total of 69 clicks between December 26 and December 31, when his ad was finally cancelled. He received in these five days 10 times as many clicks as he had received in the previous two weeks. Despite this, Citysearch refused his repeated requests to reverse these charges.

Click fraud can be detected by software that can track suspicious patterns, such as repeated clicks from the same source. Although Citysearch assures its customers that it applies this technology, the experiences of many of its customers shows otherwise, according to the suit. Still, customers are led to believe that Citysearch is in fact actively fighting against click fraud.

According to Citysearch’s “Invalid Click Policy”: “Citysearch also has sophisticated algorithms to track sessions and user behavior on our site to assist us in identifying click patterns that would indicate invalid clicks. In the event we identify a click as invalid, our customers are not charged for such clicks.”

“Citysearch is operating contrary to its own contract with its customers,” Kabateck said.

Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., announced that two of its Web sites are winners of the 2008 Codie Awards from the Software and Information Industry Association.

Britannica Online School Edition was named Best Education Reference or Search Service, and the Britannica Blog took Best Corporate Blog honors at the association’s gala in San Francisco. A complete list of Codie Award winners is available at http://www.siia.net/codies/2008/winners.asp.

The Codie Awards are among the most coveted prizes in the software and digital-content industries, and Britannica’s latest victories cap a long series of Codies the company’s digital products have won since the 1990s.

“Naturally, we’re thrilled,” said Michael Ross, a senior vice president with Britannica and general manager of the company’s education division. “The Codies have enormous prestige. They’re highly competitive awards because industry leaders pick winners from hundreds of products. This year more than 1,100 excellent ones competed for the top spots.”

A comprehensive reference and learning resource for grades K-12, Britannica Online School Edition is designed for all ages, with content clustered in distinct sections for the primary, middle and upper grades. It provides students and teachers with an extensive combination of reference information and interactive learning tools. It features Encyclopaedia Britannica’s award-winning encyclopedias serving students of all ages; extensive multimedia; current periodicals; Britannica’s proprietary, editor-checked Internet guide; and a growing number of primary sources. A recent addition is the Britannica Learning Zone, a skills-based environment for children from preschool to Grade 2.

School Edition is meant to be as relevant in the classroom as it is in the library or media lab. Its contents are thoroughly aligned to all state standards and include hundreds of lesson plans and other learning materials.

The Britannica Blog is a place where writers and readers hold lively discussions on almost every topic from art to zoology. More than a hundred bloggers have contributed to the daily postings, including radio quiz show host Michael Feldman; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Joseph Ellis; Nobel Prize winner Jody Williams; Holocaust scholar Michael Berenbaum; Internet experts Nicholas Carr and Clay Shirky; and sports commentator Frank Deford. The blog holds forums on special topics, such as the religion of the American Founders, Web 2.0, the cult of celebrity, the future of newspapers, and Iran.

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