Frager Factor

Friday, December 21, 2012

Domaining's Most Fascinating People in Domaining 2012: Howard Neu

Says Blogger Domain Shane: "Brilliant man,
perfect Robin to Rick's Batman with
 also being one of the best domain lawyers
and a family man. I only hope my marriage
continues on as well as his has."
Photo: DNJournal
This was not a good year to raise bogus trademark infringement claims in front of the usually trademark-friendly World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In the now-famous Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) action brought against Rick Schwartz’s, a Brazilian domainer who tried to portray himself as the victim of trademark infringement became instead the poster-boy for attempted reverse domain name hijacking.

His case backfired because of the clear and persuasive response written by Rick’s long-time business partner, Howard Neu, the renowned Internet attorney, co-founder of TRAFFIC and one of our Most Fascinating People in Domaining for 2012.

“I could not have done what I have done without Howard at my side,” says Schwartz. “He has the social skills I may lack and he has been able to guide me through a jungle of ignorance and help me to survive until ignorance was cured with knowledge. Besides Howard being my lawyer and partner in TRAFFIC, he is a friend and like a brother. Besides what he has done for me I can tell you he has given out valuable legal advice for free for over a decade. And has successfully defended me in case after case after case.”

Courtroom competitors envy Neu’s Midas Touch. Says Ari Goldberger: “Howard and I are veterans of the Three Amigos, when there were just a handful of us domain lawyers out there. He has been a major force in building this domain thing into an industry, having had the foresight to create a tradeshow for domainers with Rick Schwartz at a time when no one had even imagined such a thing.”

Former Mayor, musician and consummate family man Howard enjoys the fruits of his labors wih wife Barbara, son Ray Dillman and girl friend  Kimberly Ann  via DNJournal


If you’re not familiar with the case, you can get all the details by reading WIPO’s decision here. But here’s the gist of it. Rick hand-registered in 1996. In 2010, 14 years later, Márcio Mello Chaves began operating the daily deals website, which he branded as “Save Me.” After failing in his attempt to buy, Chavez filed his UDRP complaint against Rick’s company claiming the domain name infringed on his trademark and was registered in bad faith. Chief among the “fatal flaws” they cited in Chavez’s case, the three-member UDRP panel found that Chavez did not have either a registered or common law trademark in the name “SaveMe” and — more importantly —a domain registered 14 years before a similarly named business even exists could not possibly have been registered in bad faith. The panel found that it was Chavez’s business that was in fact acting in bad faith and was guilty of “a classic case of Reverse Domain Name Hijacking.”

“This was a huge victory and I can't put in words tonight what it really means,” Rick wrote on his blog after the decision came down in June. “I only know what a loss would have meant and that would have been a very dark day for all. Howard's response was masterful, ballsy and we won BIG!”

While Rick, in his unapologetically unabashed fashion, called the outcome “an important landmark win,” Howard is a bit more reserved in his opinion. “It’s not any more significant than any other reverse hijacking case,” he told us. “What’s significant is they chose the wrong guy to pick on.”

Howard says that one reason this case might not have an effect on keeping others from attempting reverse domain name hijacking in the future is that the attorneys hired by trademark owners to bring these actions typically are not familiar with UDRP. “They wouldn’t do research on other UDRP cases or reverse domain name hijacking,” he says. “And there have been cases since then.”

But in 2013, Howard and Rick are going to unleash a strategy that they hope will begin to serve notice to potential reverse hijackers. “Starting at the next TRAFFIC, we’re going  to highlight the most egregious offenders, and make that a regular part of TRAFFIC. Once it gets around that we’re calling these people out, we might begin to see them think twice about bringing these actions.”

The resurgence of TRAFFIC itself provided another of the reasons we chose Howard for our list of Most Fascinating People. To reach out to international domainer markets, Howard and Rick signed up a licensee in 2010 to put on shows in Dublin, Amsterdam, Milan and Vancouver. But as Howard says, “They did it with a different method and didn’t meet our standards. The licensee was giving things away, cutting corners to save costs. They weren’t true TRAFFIC shows. And attendance fell off. So we took it back.”

During this period, imitators flooded the market with their own shows. It seemed as if there was a show every month, in just about every corner of the world. The audience, who was already split among domain shows, SEO shows and Wordpress camps, couldn’t sustain that volume of events. Sponsors and press couldn’t keep up, either. But true to the song “only the strong survive,” the last TRAFFIC three shows in Florida were back-to-back home runs. The most recent sold-out gem at the Ritz not only hit one out of the park, but had the excited audience calling for a return to Las Vegas. The May 2013 TRAFFIC at the Bellagio in Vegas promises to be fantastic. The current plan is for future shows to alternate between South Florida and Las Vegas.

Says Danny Pryor, who provides promotional support for TRAFFIC and Howard’s other projects, “In my personal and professional relationship with him, Howard has been a stalwart. I think the resurgence of TRAFFIC shows his open mindedness, resilience and perseverance.”


Says fellow counsel Karen Bernstein,  
"Howard was defending domainers 

in the early days of the UDRP and the

 Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. 

 I first read about Howard while I was still in law school.

  His good-natured approach to issues 

affecting the domain name industry 

should be highly commended!"
While expecting domain investors to expand into the new generic top level domains (gTLDs) once they begin coming online, Howard says the U.S. and worldwide economies will be more important factors in domain investment. And, he says, “.com will still be king.”

Providing one reason for the continued value of .com, Howard points out that “the last couple of years, there’s been a trend for mainstream businesses to use domains for their marketing campaigns. (Editor’s Note: These are the “call to action” domain names we’ve been advocating and writing about for years.) As that trend continues, the domain investment community will thrive. Right now it’s depressed because of the economy. But it will come back.”

Ron Jackson's daughter Brittany and fiancé David chose Howard Neu as their officiant and they worked closely with Howard to plan a unique ceremony (including Howard singing!) that everyone LOVED. We heard nothing but effusive praise from guests about how original and moving the ceremony was.  Photo: DNJournal
And let’s not forget consummate family man.

Barbara & Howard Neu in Tomorrowland via DNJournal

“While this is about Howard, I can not say enough about Barbara's indefatigable 
efforts as a wife, mother and the de facto official photographer of the TRAFFIC show,” says Danny Pryor. (Barbara was one of our first nominees for Domaining's Most Fascinating Person of 2010)

“Howard is incredibly lucky to have a woman like Barbara always at his side.  She and Howard define what it is share a relationship, not just to be in one. One will never be able to separate the two, and for that they have my envy.”

So, for his success in beating back a would-be reverse domain name hijacker, bringing back to its full strength the industry’s important TRAFFIC shows, for leading a rich and varied life, and inspiring us with his integrity, loyalty and devotion, Howard Neu is one of our Most Fascinating People in Domaining for 2012.

Note: All Photos via DNJournal unless otherwise noted

Catch up with Past Nominees for Domaining's Most Fascinating People: Those who forged imagination, diligence, and discipline into bottom-line success, and who has gone far beyond domaining to leverage their success to help others in need.

Barbara Dillman Neu
Teen Domainer
Ryan Colby
Patrick Ruddell
Mike Sullivan & Fusible
Jeff Gabriel
Rob Grant
Rob Monster
Warren Royal
Bill Kara
Jeff Tinsley
Lori Anne Wardi
Mike Fiol
Monte Cahn
Jeff Bennett
Adam Matuzich
Colin Pape
Francois Carrillo / Ron Josephs 

Adam Dicker
Merlin Kauffman
Andrew Rosener
John Ferber
Scott Cleland
Mike Mann
Michael Cyger

Andee Hill
Phil Corwin
Danno (in Memoriam)
Howard Neu
Colin Pape (coming Christmas day- the story of scrooge (aka Google) defeated)

About The Author: Owen Frager is an Internet marketing expert ready to help take your company to the next level.

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