Minds + Machines: layoffs, plan for cash and more

Big updates from one of the biggest new top level domain name companies.

Publicly traded Minds + Machines (London AIM: MMX) released a corporate update today, and it’s big.

The company has close to $50 million in cash in the bank, which gives it plenty of time to wait out the hoped-for surge in acceptance of new top level domain names. But it’s not going to sit back and watch its cash position dwindle each quarter. Instead, it’s taking action to become profitable soon and find a way to return the cash to shareholders. I think these are smart moves that should please shareholders.

Here are key items from the update.

1. Minds + Machines had layoffs last month, for the right reasons. The company says this will save the company $1.3 million per year and it is hunting for more ways to save money. It’s also moving from technical expertise to a sales organization.

Most importantly, it targets becoming profitable next year.

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Vox Populi wants trademark for .Sucks

Controversial new top level domain name registry wants to trademark “.sucks”.

.SucksVox Populi, the domain name registry for .Sucks, has applied for the trademark “.Sucks” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

The goods and services for the mark are “Domain name registration services; registration of domain names for identification of users on a global computer network.”

The USPTO does not grant trademarks for top level domain names, so I’m not sure what Vox Populi hopes to accomplish with this application.

Vox Populi also recently applied for a trademark for “How Do You Really Feel?”

Scripps Networks Interactive, through its top level domain name company Lifestyle Domain Holdings, recently applied for three trademarks related to its new top level domains: Living, Lifesytle and Vana.

Are IDN .com owners about to get screwed?

Verisign finds way to sign ICANN contract, but it might come at the expense of IDN investors.

[Update: see comment from Verisign at end.]

It’s been a long, long wait for owners of internationalized domain names under .com.

The idea was that they’d get rights to IDN.IDN-as-transliteration domain names to match their IDN.com names when they came out. So they registered IDN.com domain names and held on to them for a decade, waiting for their investment to pay off.

Given that the IDN-as-transliteration sounds like “com”, it will create a lot of confusion if two different parties owned IDN.com and IDN.IDN-as-transliteration.

Verisign ran into a bit of trouble executing this plan when it came to contracting with ICANN. Registries can’t hold back a bunch of domains in perpetuity, as ICM Registry discovered.

On yesterday’s Q2 conference call, Verisign CEO James Bidzos announced: Click to continue reading…

Scripps files trademark applications for new top level domains

Trademarking Living and Lifestyle.

Scripps Networks Interactive, through its top level domain name company Lifestyle Domain Holdings, has filed for U.S. trademarks matching a number of the top level domain names it will run.

The company filed multiple trademark applications for “Living”, “Lifestyle” and “Vana”, which all match new top level domain names.

There are four intent-to-use trademarks for each word, the only difference being the goods and services descriptions. One description reads: Click here to continue reading…

Google reiterates how new TLDs are handled in search results

Google issues details on how new top level domain names affect search engine results. (In short, they don’t.)

Google has posted to its Webmaster Central Blog about how it handles new top level domain names in search. Because of the importance of this issue to the industry, I have republished the questions answered in the post along with my commentary.

Q: How will new gTLDs affect search? Is Google changing the search algorithm to favor these TLDs? How important are they really in search?
A: Overall, our systems treat new gTLDs like other gTLDs (like .com & .org). Keywords in a TLD do not give any advantage or disadvantage in search.

DNW: This answer leaves a lot open. Google highlights the keywords searched that are in the domain name, and it will highlight the top level domain name if there’s a match. I think what Google is saying is that, as of right now, it doesn’t matter if “photography” is to the left or right of the dot in the domain name.

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