5 Famous Domain Name Disputes

Domain name disputes seem to be all the rage these days. With some domain names selling for millions of dollars, it is no wonder that there are several very famous domain name disputes.

From entertainment to politics to the unfortunate high school teenager, domain name disputes do not fail to entertain.

Bruce Springsteen vs. BruceSpringsteen.com

In 2001, Bruce Springsteen, one of the most famous musicians of the past century, lost a domain name dispute against a man named Jeff Burgar.

Burgar owned a website named BruceSpringsteen.com, and claimed he only wanted to use the website as a fan page dedicated to Springsteen.

Whether or not that was truthful remains an interesting topic of discussion, because Burgar also owned over 1500 other domain names, several of which have been subject to legal action from big names such as Mariah Carey and Hewlett Packard.

Nonetheless, when Bruce Springsteen began this domain name dispute against Burgar, it was clear that Burgar knew legal action was headed his way. In the end, WIPO found in favor of Burgar after he presented evidence far above what is normally asked for to prove one’s case.

Specifically, Burgar was able to successfully argue that there was no evidence to support that Springsteen’s name was protected under common law and there was no evidence that the website harmed Springsteen’s reputation.

Surprisingly, Springsteen’s official website is now BruceSpringsteen.net.

Ron Paul vs. RonPaul.com

Ron Paul has been running for president since the 1980’s, and as a result has gained a lot of supporters. RonPaul.com is a website made by these supporters of Ron Paul; however, it is completely independent of Ron Paul.

In 2013, Ron Paul wanted the RonPaul.com domain name, but the fans that owned and operated the website did not want to simply hand it over free of charge.

Instead, they offered Ron Paul two options: either freely take RonPaul.org, which the fans also owned, or pay for RonPaul.com. For some strange reason, Ron Paul decided neither offer was good enough and sued the owners of RonPaul.com for both that domain name and for RonPaul.org.

To reiterate, Ron Paul sued his own supporters for operating a Ron Paul fan site that they created for his benefit. This just doesn’t seem like a smart thing for Ron Paul to do, and the WIPO panel that decided this case found similarly.

WIPO found in favor of the fans that operated RonPaul.com because they were using the domain name without intent for commercial gain, and the website provided a place for political speech, which is an important cornerstone of the First Amendment.

Interestingly, the WIPO panel found that Ron Paul was guilty of reverse domain name hijacking, meaning that he filed a complaint in bad faith against the rightful owners of the domain name in an effort to harass or intimidate them.

In hindsight, Ron Paul probably should have taken the free RonPaul.org.

City of Quebec vs. Quebec.com

In 1998, Anything.com strategically registered the domain name Quebec.com. Fifteen years later, Quebec decided to sue Anything.com in order to use the domain name for government purposes.

Quebec desperately argued that Quebec.com was confusing to people because they would believe the domain was run by the government of Quebec, and that Anything.com was committing copyright infringement and acting in bad faith.

In the end, WIPO found in favor of Anything.com because the City of Quebec had failed to prove all of the counts that it alleged.

The final nail in the coffin seemed to be that Quebec had waited 15 years to file a complaint against Anything.com, and thus had failed to pursue its remedies in a timely manner.

Interestingly, like Jeff Burgar in the above Bruce Springsteen debacle, Anything.com had also purchased a large number of domain name’s, which may be indicative of cybersquatting.

However, that did not help Quebec’s case.

Further, Anything.com alleged that Quebec was committing reverse domain name hijacking, using a similar argument like that in Ron Paul’s domain name dispute.

However, the WIPO panel found that Quebec’s motivation for their claim had nothing to do with intimidation or harassment, unlike that of Ron Paul’s domain name dispute.

Microsoft vs. MikeRoweSoft

Microsoft is a multibillion dollar electronics company run by the billionaire Bill Gates.

MikeRoweSoft.com was a web design business run by a high school teenager named Mike Rowe.

Mike Rowe thought it was funny that his name sounded a lot like the famous company’s, and decided to use that humor to help promote his business online so that he could save money for college.

Apparently, Microsoft did not find this a laughing matter, and decided to take legal action against the high school teenager in 2001. After first offering a settlement of $10, Mike Rowe flatly refused and countered with $10,000, an amount that he believed reflected the time and energy he had devoted to his website.

Microsoft rejected Mike’s counteroffer, and instead sent him a 25-page cease and desist letter which claimed he was cybersquatting.

While both sides had valid arguments if they had gone to court, Mike Rowe eventually went to the press and gave Microsoft one of its worst public relations nightmares.

Eventually, Mike Rowe and Microsoft reached an out of court settlement, where Mike received an Xbox, amongst several other things.

The Curious Case of Whitehouse.com

This isn’t necessarily a domain name dispute, but it is still very relevant to this topic. Back in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, many history and government teachers in the United States told their students to look up information on the White House website, which subsequently led a lot of young students to type “whitehouse.com” into their search engines.

Surprisingly, the .com address led to an adult website, and many teachers found themselves having to explain to many angry parents that they actually wanted their students to visit “whitehouse.gov.”

While this didn’t lead to a domain name dispute specifically, the Clinton administration sent the owner of whitehouse.com a cease and desist letter that challenged the website’s right to use the domain name as a marketing device.

However, the cease and desist letter had no effect, and the only reason that the website stopped being an adult website was because the owner’s son was entering kindergarten at the time.

Interestingly, in response to the calamity caused by the website, the US Government enacted the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Conclusion

Legal issues surrounding domain names are tricky.

While the internet has been around for a while now, in the legal world it’s like the internet just happened yesterday. Courts and legal standards haven’t really caught up.

Do you have any good domain name stories? Let me know in the comments.

Would You Take Neil Patel’s $100,000 Challenge?

If you’re in to online marketing at all, someone you should be following–if you’re not already–is Neil Patel.

I learn a lot from Neil and by applying the strategies he recommends.

About 8 or 9 months ago, Neil posted to his blog at Quicksprout that anyone could make a million dollar business within one year. To show you how you too can build a $1,000,000 business within one year, Neil offered to launch a new business, make $1,000,000, and post monthly updates on his progress and how he got there.

Well, it’s been an interesting experiment–he’s not quite done with it, but it’s been fascinating to watch.

One thing that has been lacking–for me at least–has been a place to look up all the posts about this project so that I can go back and reference them when it’s convenient for me. I’ll also sometimes refer existing web marketing clients to the project, and I didn’t have a clear and easy page to find that maps out all the progress Neil is making.

So, here goes, a simple page with links to every article on this project, in chronological order:

How to Make $100,000 a Month Within 1 Year

How to Generate $100,000 a Month from a Brand New Blog

A Setback on the $100k a Month Challenge

How I’m Going to Achieve the $100k a Month Challenge without Using My Name

How to Generate $1,000,000 from Your Blog

The $100,000 Challenge: May Update

The $100,000 Challenge: June Update

The $100,000 Challenge: July Update

The $100,000 Challenge: August Update

The $100,000 Challenge: September Update

The $100,000 Challenge: October Update

The $100,000 Challenge: November Update

The $100,000 Challenge: December Update

The $100,000 Challenge: January Update

The $100,000 Challenge: February Update

The $100,000 Challenge: March Update

I’ll be adding the new posts as they come out. This is a fascinating project, as I’m sure you’ll agree once you get to reading the posts above.

And it’s also inspiring.

So if you’ve wanted to start a new business and make $1,000,000 after a year, there’s no better time to get started than now.

Solving WordPress CPU and RAM Spikes

Working with WordPress over the years I’ve become familiar with the software, its bugs, and the quirks you encounter hosting WordPress in different server environments.

When I first started with WordPress, I had it installed for me using a one-click installation on DreamHost. Later, as my hosting needs grew and my sites started to load slow on a shared-hosting environment, I ended up getting my own Virtual Private Server (VPS).

My hosting provider assured me that getting a VPS would improve my site load times. For a little while, the switch to a VPS improved things. But then, my sites began to load slowly again and I started to look into different hosting options.

Digital Ocean

One of my brothers told me about Digital Ocean, a high-quality hosting provider that has VPS packages starting from $5/month.

While this article isn’t about Digital Ocean–it’s about WordPress–the switch to Digital Ocean, and the graphing and data tools they provide, helped me diagnose and solve the CPU and RAM spikes I was seeing on my WordPress installations.

(Quick note: I do recommend Digital Ocean, and so if you do decide to use their service, please use this affiliate link.)

Now, on to the solution to a slow loading WordPress site with CPU and RAM spikes.

WordPress CPU and RAM Usage

Digital Ocean provides a few useful graphs for each website (they call them “droplets”) that you host with them. It was after moving a WordPress site to Digital Ocean that I noticed a spike in CPU usage when the sites were loading slowly.

After investigating further I learned that it wasn’t just the CPU that spiked, but the RAM usage as well.

Digital Ocean has a one-click WordPress installation option and that is what I had originally used. To solve my problem, and to solve yours if you’re reading this, you’ll need to learn how to install WordPress yourself.

You’ll also need to learn a little about the NGINX web server.

Apache, NGINX, and RAM Management

WordPress is traditionally installed on a LAMP stack. LAMP stands for Linux (the operating system), Apache (the web server), MySQL (the database), and PHP (the programming language).

To solve your problem you’re going to need to install WordPress on a LEMP stack. LEMP stands for Linux, a web server called NGINX (pronounced Engine-X), MySQL, and PHP.

Apache is the world’s most common web server and it does a lot of things really well. Unfortunately, even though Apache is traditionally used as the web server for WordPress, and because of how Apache and WordPress interact, the combination tends to eat up a lot of RAM.

Once the RAM is overloaded, Linux attempts to use memory swapping. Essentially, it tries to use your hard drive to perform functions that should be taken care of by RAM.

This is why your CPU spikes.

The NGINX web server does a much better job at managing RAM in the WordPress context than Apache does. There are a number of speed tests online comparing a LAMP and LEMP WordPress configuration, and all of them demonstrate that NGINX manages WordPress resources significantly better than Apache does.

However, because the LAMP stack is the traditional setup for WordPress you can’t find a shared hosting or one-click installation for NGINX and WordPress anywhere. What that means is that you’ll have to install it yourself.

Lucky for you, Digital Ocean provides a guide that you can follow to install WordPress on a LEMP stack.

Getting Started with Digital Ocean

The instructions I’m posting are for installing WordPress on a LEMP stack on Digital Ocean, but you should be able to adapt the instructions to any hosting provider that will give you shell access to your own VPS.

I’m also not going to be posting detailed instructions. Instead, I’ll be directing you with links to resources and instructions that have already been written out at Digital Ocean.

What’s amazing about all this is that you’re going to get a faster WordPress website, with no CPU or RAM spikes, for only $5/month.

As an interesting note, the $5/month VPS gives you 512 MB of RAM. With a LEMP + WordPress configuration, you can host a website on a $5/month VPS.

On Digital Ocean’s one-click install of WordPress using the Apache web server, they no longer allow you to use the $5 droplet–you must begin with the $10/month droplet which provides 1GB of RAM.

That’s not really a statement about whether Apache does a bad job, as it is an indicator of how great NGINX works with WordPress.

Back to the droplet.

Creating Your Droplet on Digital Ocean

After clicking “Create Droplet,” click “One-click Apps” and select the option to install the LEMP stack.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.40.26 AM

Scroll down and choose the $5/month VPS.

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As you keep scrolling you’ll see the option to choose a datacenter region–just pick what makes sense for your situation.

Under “Select Additional Options” I always select Backups. It costs 20% extra of the price of your droplet (So $6/month total for a $5/month VPS), but it’s totally worth it. The peace of mind that comes from having an affordable and automatic weekly backup is impossible to state. Not to mention the fact that I’ve had to use their backups and the process is completely seamless.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 2.45.07 AM

Finally, be sure to use an SSH key and type a hostname.

For the hostname, I typically use the URL or web address of the site I’m creating, but it could be anything you want.

Click the “Create” button and you’ll be on your way.

Now comes the fun part–installing WordPress.

Installing WordPress with NGINX

Like I said, Digital Ocean provides useful guides for installing WordPress on NGINX. Here is the page you want to visit:

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-wordpress-with-nginx-on-ubuntu-14-04

If you’ve never done anything from the command line before there is definitely a learning curve. Give this a try–spend a couple of hours learning how this works and you won’t regret it.

(TIP: Try googling for resources, but since you’re working with Digital Ocean and they provide so much information, just tag on “digital ocean” to the end of your search terms to get applicable resources)

Ever since I switched my WordPress installations from a LAMP stack to a LEMP stack I haven’t had any problems with excessive RAM usage or CPU spikes. What’s even better is that people who know more about server configurations and traffic tests than I do have confirmed that WordPress on a LEMP stack and a $5 VPS can handle millions of website visits each day

Extra Steps

There are a couple of other final steps you might want to keep in mind. After installing WordPress on NGINX using the steps listed above, some installations, mine included, have trouble sending email from the WordPress installation.

Just type the following into the command line interface.

sudo apt-get install sendmail

sudo sendmailconfig

Select “y” for all the following configuration options. Then type this next bit.

sudo service sendmail restart

Varnish Page-caching

Another thing you might want to do is install Varnish. Varnish is a super-charged page-caching software that you can install by following the instructions here:

https://www.digitalocean.com/community/tutorials/how-to-install-wordpress-nginx-php-and-varnish-on-ubuntu-12-04

When I install Varnish on one of my websites after following the instructions listed above, I can get my sites to load in less than 300ms. That’s blazing fast.

So by switching your installation from Apache to NGINX, you’re not just avoiding your slow-loading CPU-spiking WordPress issues, you’re actually gearing up for a faster-loading website than you’ve ever experienced before. Varnish just makes the experience even better.

One warning about Varnish–it’s complex stuff. WordPress uses a lot of cookies and configuring Varnish to work properly with a WordPress site more complicated than a regular blog can be difficult.

Varnish also doesn’t work on sites loaded over an SSL connection, so it may not be a great page-caching option for websites that collect sensitive user-information like online stores.

Conclusion

Moving from Apache to NGINX vastly improved my WordPress websites. My sites no longer load slowly, and I have no issues with RAM or CPU spikes. Taking the time to learn how to configure my own web server gave me power to improve the website experience for my end users–my site visitors.

Most of what you read online about speeding up WordPress has to do with page-caching and optimizing Apache. But I recommend making the change from Apache to NGINX. Page-caching options, such as Varnish or a WordPress cache plugin, should be considered if you need things to move even faster.

What strategies do you recommend for managing server resources on your WordPress installation?

About Me

When I graduated from law school in 2012 and couldn’t find the job I was hoping for, I decided to take matters into my own hands. That’s the short version of how I found myself operating both a successful web design company and a growing legal practice.

Even though I actively practice law, I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than a lawyer. But I didn’t always think I would end up where I am today.

Pivotal Moments

I majored in music as an undergraduate. That’s right, my main ambition through most of highschool and part of college was to become a band director. I graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, and I can play a mean trombone solo.

But my desire for a career in music changed after I spent two years in Argentina on a full-time mission for my church. It’s hard to place my finger on exactly what changed, but I knew when it was time for me to come home that band directing wouldn’t cut it any more.

Entrepreneurship

When I got back to BYU I got a job through a friend who was an entrepreneur. He and his partner ran a technology company that provided services to Fortune 500 companies. In addition to the tech company, they also dabbled in other money-making pursuits—everything from app creation and design to large-scale international business deals.

Because I spoke Spanish they even let me setup an international business deal between a U.S. client and several Mexican companies on one project.

This work experience was huge for me—I learned a ton about how to develop web sites, how to work with Fortune 500 clients, and how to structure international business deals. But more than that, it was the first time I had even conceived of the idea of making money on my own. I had always thought and planned to work for someone else.

Working in an office with a couple of entrepreneurs opened my eyes to all the possibilities, to all the different roads that I could take to forge my own future.

Virginia

Law school had been in my plans when I came back from Argentina, and working that job with the entrepreneurs didn’t slow down my momentum. I got married in 2008 when I was applying to law schools, and my wife and I wanted to leave everything we knew behind and go off on an adventure. So instead of applying to schools near family, we talked about cool places we had visited where we would like to live.

We chose Virginia.

I applied to all the law schools in Virginia, and I accepted an offer to attend law school at the University of Richmond in 2009.

Law School

When I started law school I planned to make a career out of international business law because my international work experiences had gone so well. While I still dabble in international business law—lately I’ve been working on an interesting EB-5 foreign investment project—I ended up taking a lot of classes in the law and technology arena.

International business projects are fun; technology is addictive.

During my law school years, my wife and I decided to start our family. My first daughter was born during finals of the spring semester of my second year of law school. Because my wife left her job to take care of our newborn full-time, I had to jump in and figure out a way to go to law school and support my family at the same time.

Web Design

Coming from a web and technology background I quickly became aware of the poor state of the web among the legal profession. I found a large number of low-quality web design and maintenance services directed to attorneys at a very high cost.

Ultimately, I saw opportunity and decided to launch my first company, Pixel Pro Quo, LLC, to make websites for lawyers and other professionals. While I didn’t have the overnight success I naively expected, it did the trick and helped me support my family through the last half of law school and beyond. Pixel Pro Quo is still active today and provides web sites to a growing clientele.

Sometimes I’ll blog here about new features we offer at Pixel Pro Quo.

Graduating Into a Recession

Eventually (Finally!) I graduated law school and passed the bar exam. I had made attempts to find full-time work as an attorney, but couldn’t find anything locally—turns out we like it here in Virginia and we didn’t want to leave just yet.

I thought I would try doing some document review work on an e-discovery project at one firm, but it was disappointing.

I had published a paper about using advanced search technologies to improve the reviewing process in electronic discovery requests, so I knew a ton about the technical side of the legal work I was doing. The problem was, the firm I worked at didn’t seem to use any of the new technologies I had studied and the project was bogged down in constant technological glitches that, frankly, I probably could have fixed if it had been in my job description.

To make matters worse it didn’t take me long to realize that to them I was just another temporary worker who wouldn’t have a job once the project I was working on had ended.

That’s when I finally decided I would start working on my own and get some valuable real-world legal experience.

Starting a Law Practice

I reviewed documents during the day, came home and put kids to bed in the afternoon, and stayed up nights doing web design projects to make ends meet. In the little time that remained I started prepping to launch my own law firm.

My first efforts were overly ambitious. I posted on my website that I would practically do everything—I was going to host a Legal Q&A forum to answer questions across a wide range of practice areas, I was going to provide free legal documents online, and I was going to publish regular e-books on various topics.

I quit document review in mid February, 2013 and officially established my law firm, Tingen & Williams, PLLC. Since I still didn’t have any clients I actually had time to write up some contracts that I made available on docracy.com and I published an e-book on Trademark Law at amazon.com. My first clients came from those two projects.

I was still having trouble getting enough clients to make any money, so I reached out to a local nonprofit and asked if I could help with some pro bono immigration cases to get my name out. I remember thinking, “I’m fluent in Spanish. How hard could it be?”

Shortly after I reached out, the attorney in charge of the pro bono work called me back and told me that he was changing firms and wouldn’t be able to manage the pro bono work moving forward. He asked if I would be willing to take on his caseload and he told me that if I did I could switch some of the cases over to a fee-paying basis.

And that’s how I went from about 10 clients to 180 clients in one day.

Managing Clients Through Technology

I became very busy and I had to figure out how to juggle a giant caseload while learning about immigration law and learning to be a lawyer. Because of my technology expertise I was able to setup an online client and document management system that helped me make a smooth transition from ten clients to hundreds of clients. I used the same tools I had developed for my users at Pixel Pro Quo; it was exciting for me to use tools I had created for other attorneys and see how well they worked for me personally.

Without the technology that I use, there’s no way that I would have been able to do what I did. After a year I had resolved more than half of the 180 matters. And now, after having served more than a thousand clients, I still use the same tools to manage my caseload today.

Where I’m at Now

Even though I’ve spent a lot of time with immigration law, I’ve continued to grow and develop my client base for trademark law, internet law, web development and practice management. Because of my multidisciplinary interests and skill set, I’ve started to reach out to see how I can help other business owners achieve success by leveraging technology in their business.

And that’s what this blog is about.

My hope is that by sharing my story and my experiences I can help people like you start your own business (or grow your existing business) and be successful by building a strong brand with the help of both law and technology.

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