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Cybersquatting: New potential problems, and possible solutions
It's hard to believe that almost five years have passed since I posted on this blog about cybersquatting, or typo-squatting. You can read that older post to get the basic ideas; but the examples I gave there no longer work. (I foresaw at the time that my post might prompt action by the broker I used as an example; I'm glad I was right.) As I noted in that older post: A common problem in the industry is that large brokerage firms are great targets for cybersquatters. According to the Anti-cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (15 U.S.C. 1125(d)) or ACPA, cybersquatting, or cyberpiracy, is registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name identical to or confusingly similar to someone else's trade- or service mark in bad faith. The most common form in our industry results in folks registering a domain name that is a slight variation of a broker's firm name (also called "typosquatting"), putting up a page on the resulting domain, and selling real-estate-related links on the page. In most cases, this violates the trade- or service marks of the broker and may violate the ACPA. You should be prepared for a whole new wave of problems associated with cybersquatting in the coming couple years, as ICANN (the international regulator of Internet domain names) has received nearly two thousand applications for new top-level domains (TLDs), the part of a domain to the right of the last dot: e.g., .COM, .NET, .ORG.
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Midyear Wrap-up: Portal War?
Like many of you in this industry, we typically spend the last weeks of April preparing for Midyear. This year, we estimated that our time in DC would be a lot busier given that Spring had been delivered to the Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® the week before – and we were right. It seems that some key industry people had their eyes on that event and had noticed a few things that we hoped they would: Brian Boero of 1000Watt Consulting wrote, "I would be overstating things only slightly by saying that The Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS® just might have the best home search site in the industry." Mike Audet of WAV Group wrote, "...agents have outstanding vision into client behavior on Spring in terms of their preferences and search behavior creating a truly interactive agent/client experience." Greg Robertson of VendorAlley.com wrote, "Looks like Solid Earth is swinging for the fences here. It acts as both and public and private portal, responsive design, the works. Congrats to Solid Earth." With that kind of exposure, the week in DC went very well. Lots of meetings with clients, potential clients and the industry intelligentsia. Then something happened. The NAR political machine whirred to life.
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Is the MLS In Danger?
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Conversations About the MLS Industry, Creating Software, and Employee Ownership
I'm at the MLS Cloud conference in Houston, where Bob Hale did not propose creation of a National Association of MLSs, but I think the idea is pretty interesting. The topic has been raised because the NAR has been creating some pretty crazy policies related to MLS lately, leaving many to wonder if MLSs themselves should be more in charge of their own destiny.  
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