Category: Internet Domain News

One of the world’s most valuable companies just plumbed new depths in cybersquatting disputes.

Saudi Aramco, the $133 billion Saudi Arabian oil company, filed trademarks for a new brand called Orizon last year. Naturally, the company would like the domain Orizon.com.

But there’s a problem.

Orizon.com was registered in 1997 by Orizon Multimedia Inc. The company used the domain for its business but then shut down. Apparently, the owner of the business passed away last year.

So Saudi Aramco decided to file a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) to try to get the domain.

Here’s the thing: in order to win a UDRP case, a trademark holder must show that the domain was registered in bad faith when it was initially registered.

Clearly, the registrant did not register the domain in bad faith since he used it for his legitimate business. Oh, and he registered it more than two decades before Saudi Aramco decided to adopt it as a brand, so it wasn’t registered to target Saudi Aramco.

World Intellectual Property Organization panellist Nick Gardner correctly ruled that this isn’t a case of cybersquatting. He considered if it was reverse domain name hijacking but, ultimately, gave Saudi Aramco a pass. One of his reasons: since the domain owner is dead, he wasn’t burdened by Saudi Aramco’s filing.

 

Read more: Domain Name Wire

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The sale of a UAE internet domain name for Dh6 million (US$1.6m) to an unidentified horse enthusiast has been described as a landmark that has put the Emirates up with some of the highest domain prices in the world. The Ozone Group, an Indian-based technology company with an office in Dubai, ran an intensive advertising campaign to sell the right to use horse.ae, but without any associated website or hosting agreement.

The company invested around Dh1 million in advertising in newspapers and radio stations in the UAE, offering the domain name for Dh5m. The move generated a flurry of interest, including seven serious bidders which saw the price go up to Dh6m and the sale close a day before the original deadline of July 26. Munir Badr, a Dubai-based technology entrepreneur, said the sale of horse.ae far exceeded the previous highest known price for a .ae domain, putting the UAE’s country code on a par with the far more mature .com market. Registration and trade in .ae domain names was liberalised in August last year, when the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority took away Etisalat’s monopoly. The broad liberalisation of the national internet domain system aimed to “promote the widespread usage of the .ae branding on a global scale”.

Part of the changes allowed companies other than Etisalat to act as registrars of UAE web addresses. While the old system involved going along in person to an Etisalat office, along with stamped documents and passport copies, .ae domains can now be purchased online, with a credit card, in minutes. The .ae top-level domain has since been catching up with trends seen in the rest of the world, not just in huge prices for popular domain names but also with battles over intellectual property against people, dubbed “cybersquatters”, who register words and names, including trademarks, usually with a view to selling them at a profit to their “rightful” owners.

The companies behind Dunkin Donuts, Baskin Robbins and Hardees restaurants all have cases pending at the UN-backed World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) to gain control of .ae domains linked to their companies.

Public records of domain names such as dunkin-donuts.ae, Baskin-robbins.ae and Hardees.ae show they are registered in the name of Ali Abdelwahed. The WIPO has consistently sided with trademark holders in previous disputes, ordering that ebay.ae, yahoo.ae and SonyEricsson.ae all be forfeited by the individuals who had registered them and transferred to the companies holding the trademarks. But Emirates Airline failed in its bid for the WIPO to award it the Australian domain, emirates.com.au, ruling that emirates were a sufficiently generic word and that the owner, the West Australian company Bluecom Consulting Group, had a legitimate claim through a failed business venture marketed as Emirates Salt.

Mr Badr, speaking before the sale of horse.ae was confirmed, said the Dh5m asking price was a “ridiculous amount” but predicted that the figure would be met.

Once told of the Dh6m final sale price, he said it was easily the highest ever paid for a .ae domain name. “It’s a huge sum. This sale can’t be even compared to the recent two-character ad.com sale, which fetched just Dh5.1m,” he said.

The .com top-level domain had been popular since the 1990s, he said, while “the .ae, in its new format after aeDA (.ae Domain Administration) introduction in August 2008, is just about a year old. I think [.ae domain sales] still have five or more years to reach a good standard where the aftermarket sales are very high.” “This sale is a true record and stereotype breaker and will surely boost the .ae market and its publicity.” Mr Badr said generic names were still available although the more obvious ones had been registered after the .ae liberalisation last year.

 

Read more on The National

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Google – one of the world’s most popular Internet search engines – has launched four new country-specific domains – one of which is the ‘ae’ domain of the UAE. The three others include Singapore, Greece and Finland.

When a UAE-based surfer clicks for Google, its advanced software recognises the origin of the request as coming from the UAE. It instantly produces its ‘ae’ webpage which is in Arabic.

To access the English language page, a Net surfer needs to click on the ‘Google in English’ option or go to the master Web site of Google.com.

“We are delighted to announce that as part of Google’s ongoing effort to make its search services available to people throughout the world, the company launched four new country-specific domains including: Finland, Greece, Singapore and the UAE.

“These new sites offer a localised interface and enable users to restrict searches to pages from their respective countries,” said Debbie Frost, Google spokesperson.

 

Read more at: Gulf News

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Even though Arabic language is booming and is one of the fastest-growing languages globally, it is still facing access challenges online.

In 2013, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) rolled out domain names in Arabic, Chinese, German, Russian and Cyrillic scripts.

When Russian and Chinese Top-Level Domain names have grown in leaps and bounds, Arabic domain names and country code top-level domain (ccTLD) of UAE (.emarat), Arabic equivalent of .AE domain extension, .Al Saudia for Saudia Arabia and .Misr for Egypt did not grow correspondingly and did not close the gap between the Arabic content and the Arabic user.

Top-Level Domains are letters after the final dot of a domain name like .com, .ae and .net while “.Shabaka” (in Arabic means .web) was the world’s first Arabic new Top-Level Domain (TLD).

Top industry experts said that the key reason is due to the lack of Arabic content online despite the growth in Arabic speaking population.

“The other reason is universal acceptance. Most of the e-commerce and online banking platforms accept emails in ASCII or Latin characters and does not recognise Arabic or Chinese email ID address. People go and register for domain names in Arabic but there is a limitation in how they could use the domain names because domain application of a domain name is email and if you want to use your email ID in your local language and if you are not able to do that, then it is a problem,” Baher Esmat, ICANN’s vice-president for stakeholder engagement in the Middle East, told TechRadar Middle East.

Despite great efforts from the ICANN and the domain managers in the countries to spread awareness on these domains, Munir Badr, Founder and CEO of AEServer, one of the accredited domain name registrars under the TRA for .ae, said that the general public and businesses, in general, prefer to use the common domain extensions in the English language as they are by far more popular, easy to type and use by everyone and in some cases cost less to register compared to the IDNs.

Esmat said that some Gulf Cooperation Council countries, apart from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia have a large Arabic-only speaking population and they use mostly Arabic language on their mobile phones and social media.

From an ICANN’s point of view, he said that the organisation’s role is to ensure that domain names work securely and stably.

icann

 

Internet penetration rate in Middle East

“When communities around the world ask ICANN to make domain names in different languages, ICANN has to respond to their needs. Whether the domain names are working or not is ICANN’s business or our responsibility,” Esmatsaid.

According to ICANN, the largest country-level domain names, in terms of registrations, are China and Russia.

“When we have millions of domain names in China and Russia, we have less than 1,000 TLDs in Arabic in Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries. This may change as our region is the fastest-growing region on internet usage globally,” he said.

According to Internet World Stats, the Middle East had a population of 258.37m as of April last year and out of this, 175.50m are internet users, which translates to 4% of the total internet users globally.

The internet penetration rate in the Middle East stands at 67.2%, higher than the rest of the world at 56.5% and higher than the global average of 56.8%.

According to Ethnologue, Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world in 2019 with 319m after Chinese, Spanish, English and Hindi.

Badr said the low usage is mainly due to lack of interest from the registrants.

“If we look at Dubai in general, the language of business is English and with a high ex-pat population, many of the business decision-makers are well aware of the domains and had prior experience by using a generic domain name such as .com or .net or country-level domains (ccTLD) so they will opt for a .ae name and a .com name as a bundle and both in Roman script,” he said.

On the other hand, he said that .ae is one of the best performing domains in the Mena region with over 230,000 domain names registered and is extremely popular within the UAE and it is also cost-effective and easy to register.

However, he said that there is lack of awareness and no big or well-known brands or government agencies are using such domains.

 

Read more on Tech Radar.

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The meeting of the Asia Pacific Top Level Domain Association (APTLD) and the Middle East DNS Forum (MEDNSF), organized by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and hosted by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), were launched today at Media Rotana – Dubai The meeting gathers a group of experts, specialists, and stakeholders, who will discuss over two days the most important issues related to Internet domain names in terms of policies, privacy, security and others.

H.E. Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori, TRA Director-General, said in the event opening speech: ‘Your meeting today derives its importance from the diversity of representation within the internet, telecom, digital media, entrepreneurship, intellectual property, and other sectors. Accordingly, we must focus on the importance of cooperation with the logic partnership to achieve our common goals of building a prosperous world based on the digital economy.’

H.E. Al Mansoori added: ‘We believe that the next phase burdens should not fall on one sector and not the other, but rather we should all work together as government, private sector, and individuals. As we rapidly enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, we see the urgent need for advanced infrastructure, legislation on data, the internet of things and others. Therefore, your meeting today is an important forum to discuss the prospects for the future, which we hope will bring good results for the people worldwide.’

Al Mansoori added: ‘TRA is hosting these two important events based on its commitment to supporting and sponsoring all activities and initiatives that serve the ICT sector. A group of top experts, interested and investors in the field of internet domains from Asia and the world will meet in Dubai to discuss the most important issues related to this sector, such as domain names and their protection as well as protection of personal information of users, and promotions of investment in domain names.’

Al Mansoori called on registrars, distributors, web hosting companies, Internet service providers, network operators, brand managers, digital marketers, entrepreneurs, and IP professionals to attend these two important activities: “Participants from across the Middle East and the world are leading the discussions, highlighting the most important investment opportunities in the field of domain names in Asia and the Middle East and exploring new ways to enhance the digital presence in the region. It is expected to come out with decisions and results that serve the field of Internet domains globally “.

The APTLD meeting, which is held twice a year, will address a range of issues related to domain names in Asia as well as activating investment in this field. The meeting will also discuss the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation on the sector, in addition to discussing the laws of international cyberspace, top-level domains (TLDs) and protection of trade names.

Moreover, the 6th Middle East DNS Forum will review the new policies of TLDs, which will allow new names. The forum will discuss in a separate session the universal acceptance of internationalized domain names, especially Arabic names, the challenges that face the use of Arabic domain names and email addresses, and ways to encourage their global acceptance across various platforms and applications.

The forum will also address domain names infrastructure, DNS security processes and protection. It will also provide an overview of the Domain Abuse Activity Reporting (DAAR) Project, which is a system for studying and reporting on domain name registration and security threat (domain abuse) behavior across top-level domain (TLD) registries and registrars.

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