Cyber Ramblings - Aug 22, 2000

22 August 2000
WIPO on the Attack
Thanks to a recent decision by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Arbitration and Media Center, Internet entrepreneurs might want to think twice before choosing a place-name for a URL. The domain was registered in 1996 by Concepcio Riera and was used for her company to provide news and tourism information about the Spanish city. WIPO has taken the domain name away from Riera because an arbitrator deemed that she used it in bad faith. The arbitrator said that the domain was registered and held only to "commercially exploit information about the city of Barcelona in Spain and its province, particularly, using the information prepared and provided by (the city) as part of its public service." The arbitrator added that most Internet users would expect to reach a government site when entering

Germany Passes E-Signature Bill
Germany has joined the list of countries to pass e-signature legislation. "With the new signature law, we are setting the decisive course for a European single market for e-commerce," Economic Minister Werner Mueller said. "I am confident that electronic signatures will soon become a normality of daily life." The new law, which should be passed by the Parliament this fall, brings the nation in line with European Union e-commerce laws.

The Name Bank
Israel-based Goldnames is trying to create an investment bank for website names. The company has purchased more than 35,000 names for resell and plans to develop a market making service for the names. According to Financial Times, the company wants to develop a secondary market for the URLs, offer market making and trading on its own account and advise companies that want a valuable Web address. The company has raised $2.25 million and is attempting to raise another $10 million.

MasterCard and Visa Add Take a Stab at Curbing Fraud
Thanks to rising credit card fraud, both MasterCard and Visa have begun requiring consumers to supply the three-digit numbers listed on credit card signatures strips for transactions made over the telephone, Internet or by mail. The new rules effect worldwide users for MasterCard and U.K. Visa users. Additionally, U.K. credit card holders will need to supply both their house numbers and postal codes. Last year, MasterCard reported $703 million in fraudulent transactions globally, while Visa was hit by $1.2 billion in fraudulent charges.

Sony, Liberty Digital to Develop Interactive TV Gaming Network
A deal between Liberty Digital, Inc. and Sony Pictures Entertainment could yield the world's first 24-hour fully interactive, game-based television network. The agreement will turn SPE's Game Show Network into a premier TV programming service dedicated exclusively to games, game playing and game shows. Under terms of the agreement, Liberty Digital, a leading player in emerging interactive television, will acquire a 50 percent stake in Game Show Network for $225 million in cash and $50 million in Liberty Digital stock. The transaction is subject to execution of definitive agreements, as well as other customary conditions to closing and is anticipated to close in the fourth quarter of 2000.

Vibrations Good?
For those who refuse to back off in their relentless pursuit of an even more interactive computing experience, AVB introduces the vibrating mouse. Using a sound card connection, AVB's VMouse "listens" to sound effects emitted by games, multimedia software or websites. Synchronized vibrations accompany each sound, thus enhancing the user's computing experience dramatically. Ordinary word processing becomes more stimulating, Internet gaming a more thrilling experience. As a result, users can "feel" the excitement, instead of only hearing it. Makers of the vibrating mouse say its sure to "shake up the competition."