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Verisign has a new term for dropcatchers: scavengers

XYZ/Verisign dispute goes on as “scavengers” snap up expired domains.

Verisign has filed a reply (pdf) to XYZ’s brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals over the .com giant’s false advertising charges.

As you may recall, Verisign says XYZ falsely inflated its success and disparaged .com.

Verisign’s reply brief mainly rehashes old arguments that the two adversaries obviously disagree about.

For example, Verisign claims 70% of .com availability searches succeed. XYZ claims 99% fail.

The difference is that XYZ is including drop catching services hammering Verisign’s servers to try to get domains when they drop.

Verisign argues these shouldn’t count. In an amusing statement, its lawyers call people buying dropping domain names “professional domain name scavengers.”

So the case goes on.

I’m not a lawyer, and Verisign might have some arguments that the lower court erred. But some things still make me scratch my head. I’m still confused as to how Verisign is arguing that XYZ’s disparagement of .com hurt sales of .net.

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  1. Nuno says

    On web hosting and parking we have unique visitors, so if the person returns multiple times it only counts as one. Shouldn’t the same principle apply to availability searches? Only the first attempt within a certain period should count, otherwise you just need to bombard the system and get that success percentage to 0.000001. I am no lawyer, I am a computer science expert.

  2. Ryan says

    .com is a brand, just like anyone else, make up crap, and they will defend their brand in court, this is what is happening, you really think everything xyz does is kosher?

    • Rob says

      Agreed but their use, in this case, is clearly disparaging of the people in the ecosystem who keep their quarterly numbers up.

      • Joseph Peterson says

        @Rob,

        Is it? I’d happily describe myself as a scavenger. That’s what I’m doing when I pour over lists of expired domains to buy.

        I agree with you that “scavenger” can have negative connotations. Vultures aren’t as admired as eagles, although it’s those majestic eagles who are the serial killers.

        Verisign might have anticipated that the word “scavenger” could seem disparaging to drop catchers and some domainers. But I don’t think it was meant that way.

        Keep in mind, Verisign is addressing the U.S. Court of Appeals – not us. Their goal is explain to an industry outsider what a “drop catcher” is. Drop catchers (and the rest of us) scavenge dropping domains; it’s just what we do. Better to use an intuitive term than something technical and unfamiliar.

        Also, Verisign would want to persuade a judge that the high number of .COM lookups coming from drop catchers ought to be dismissed. Using a slightly pejorative term like “scavengers” does the job. It’s good from a rhetoricical standpoint, since it helps someone outside the domain industry understand the point they’re making – that drop catchers create unwanted noise when it comes to domain lookup statistics.

        That doesn’t mean Verisign doesn’t want the drop catchers. It just means they don’t want all those drop catchers’ lookups to confuse a judge.

  3. jennifer says

    Verisign has a very good chance on appeal against XYZ.
    I was seriously surprised by the first ruling, but this time
    sanity and honesty may likely prevail. and if it does, I would
    expect the previous ruling to be overturned and .XYZ’s
    dishonest number fudging days gig will be up.

    Just as an example, I did exactly 10 domain name searches
    today thru the whois database, all for domain names that I am
    considering registering this week and 8 of 10 were by no
    surprise to me AVAILABLE.

    Drop services, (the lowest form of human life in the domain business)
    ping the database over and over — for the same domain name –
    thousands of times in an attempt to charge 10x -100x times more
    than a domain registration would cost normally, and is usually worth
    in most cases thereby driving up prices and making ridicuious profits.
    It seems ridiculious and intentionally misleading to include that kind
    of data in claimed average search results.

    The results could easily be skewed intentionally to create whatever
    number .XYZ wanted to throw out otherwise true or not if drop service
    numbers are included.

    Plus something to think about .. since the original ruling, I think .XYZ
    has become well known in the DOMAIN COMMUNITY for exagerration.
    As many new GTLD’S that have come out in the last couple of years
    I dont remember any other company’s making those sorts of claims
    against verisign or .com

  4. Sansa says

    I agree that the .crappolas did hurt the .net extension, but only temporarily until the entire gtld system crashes in a collective fail.

  5. Jared Cohen says

    One interesting point that neither side mentions is that the vast majority of actual domain name availability checks coming from registrars do not come from either of the two methods mentioned by Verisign and XYZ. I’m not the best expert on this, but from what I can tell there are many ways registrars check if a domain name is available. They can do EPP availability checks. They can attempt to do an EPP add and see if it works or fails. They can download the zone files locally on a regular basis and use that information for faster results. They can refer to their own internal databases. They can see if a domain name resolves. Same goes for consumers. Most don’t see if a name is available by going to GoDaddy and looking it up. They just type ‘example.com’ into their browser.

    When you look at the entire universe of ways that these checks happen, Verisign’s 70% number is ridiculous since they do not consider the vast majority of attempts to check if a name is available. Textbook example of cherry-picking data. I see their point that XYZ’s statistic may be misleading, but theirs is significantly more misleading. In fact, I’m surprised XYZ did not bring most of this up in their argument. I’m guessing they don’t really understand how these checks happen.

    Would love to hear a registrar’s perspective on this. They’re the ones who have the actual relevant data.

    • Andrew Allemann says

      Good points, Jared. I suspect XYZ didn’t bring this up because they want to stick to their 99% number and don’t want to muddy the waters.

      The real answer is somewhere between 70% and 99%.

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