If domain names are any indication of Microsoft’s plans for its biggest Xbox franchise, the company may be opening some type of new store with the launch of Halo 4.
On October 17, Microsoft registered the names HaloExchange.com (Whois), HaloExchange.net (Whois), HaloWaypointStore.com (Whois), HaloWaypointstore.net (Whois), UNSCExchange.com (Whois), and UNSCExchange.net (Whois) through the brand protection company MarkMonitor.
While it could be nothing more than Microsoft protecting its Halo brand, the registration of both the dotcom and dotnet may signal bigger plans.
Microsoft hints at future of Halo franchise with Halo 7-9 domain names
Halo5.com, Halo9.com domains acquired by Microsoft in Feb/March 2012
Halo4.com acquired in 2011 for undisclosed amount after E3 unveiling
Halo.com does not belong to Microsoft, belongs to product distributor
With all the Microsoft video game talk about Halo 4 that is scheduled to be released on November 6, 2012, Microsoft is looking to the future and working to protect its Halo brand online.
This week, the company acquired several more domain names centering around its cash cow Halo, hinting that the franchise will be around for years to come.
Through the internet brand protection company MarkMonitor, Microsoft has apparently acquired the domains halo7.net (Whois), halo7.org (Whois), halo8.org (Whois), halo9.net (Whois) and halo9.org (Whois).
It’s unknown whether Microsoft opened its checkbook to get the names and it’ll likely remain that way. History has shown that the terms of agreement between Microsoft and private domain sellers is not disclosed publicly.
Each of the newly acquired names is registered to DNStination Inc, a Whois privacy service administered by MarkMonitor. The change in ownership took place within the last 48 hours.
Microsoft has had a busy twelve months acquiring Halo-related domain names.
So, what does Microsoft’s Halo dotcom scorecard look like?
Here’s a look.
Halo.com – active website owned by HALO Brand Solutions, not Microsoft.
Halo1.com – active website owned by HALO ONE, not Microsoft.
Halo2.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation.
Halo3.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation.
Halo4.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation.
Halo5.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation. Privately registered.
Halo6.com – parked by Colby Thiesen, not owned by Microsoft.
Halo7.com – active website, not owned by Microsoft.
Halo8.com – active website owned by Halo 8 Productions, not Microsoft.
Halo9.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation. Privately registered.
Halo10.com – owned by Microsoft Corporation.
As buzz picks up about Halo 4, Microsoft has won another domain dispute (Claim Number: FA1203001432610) this past week against a fake Halo 4 beta website, this time Halo4Beta.biz.
On April 11, 2012, a single member panel with the National Arbitration Forum ordered that the Halo4Beta.biz domain name be transferred to Microsoft Corporation after having established all three elements required under the ICANN policy.
The three elements included:
(1) the domain name is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark in which the complainant has rights (2) the owner has no rights or legitimate interests in respect of the domain name and; (3) the domain name has been registered and is being used in bad faith.
Some of the highlights noted in the decision included that the respondent in the case, “Gerardo Torres / JerryG”, generated revenue from affiliate fees collected when each internet user signed up to receive one of the offers and that the domain was registered less than 10 days after Microsoft officially introduced Halo 4 through a global press release.
In early March, Microsoft Corporation won the rights to Halo4Beta.net, the first Halo 4 beta website to gain notoriety for tricking users into getting a bogus beta code.
343 Industries announced in March that it had no plans for a Halo 4 beta, but scam artists have still been able to cash in.
The full details of the ruling have been released and can be read online here.
Updated May 8, 2012:. Microsoft has taken official control of the domain name Halo4beta.biz (Whois) and now redirects visitors to Bing.
Gamers looking to sign up for Halo 4 Beta, will soon have one less website to be tricked by after Microsoft Corporation won the rights to Halo4Beta.net.
A complaint (Case No. 1426106) was officially filed with the National Arbitration Forum back in late January, shortly after David Ellis of 343 Industries warned Halo fans through Twitter to avoid fake Halo 4 Beta sites.
On March 6, 2012, a single-member panel concluded that all three elements required to be proven under the ICANN Policy were established, and that the name is ordered transferred from Edward Lee (the respondent) to Microsoft (the complainant).
On the subject of registration and use in bad faith:
The <halo4beta.net> domain name is confusingly similar to Complainant’s HALO trademark. Respondent registered and uses the domain name in bad faith under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) in that Respondent attempts to benefit commercially from Internet users’ confusion as to the possibility of Complainant’s affiliation with the domain name. See Perot Sys. Corp. v. Perot.net, FA 95312 (Nat. Arb. Forum Aug. 29, 2000) (finding bad faith registration and use where the domain name there in question was obviously connected with a complainant’s marks, thus creating a likelihood of confusion for a respondent’s commercial gain); see also Victoria’s Secret Stores Brand Mgmt., Inc. v. Privacy Protect, FA 1404667 (Nat. Arb. Forum Sept. 30, 2011) (finding bad faith registration and use under Policy ¶ 4(b)(iv) where a disputed domain name resolved to a website offering visitors gift cards in exchange for completing surveys and providing personal information).
It is also significant that Respondent registered the <halo4beta.net> domain name on June 15, 2011, only days after Complainant had publicly announced that it would be releasing HALO 4. This strongly suggests that Respondent’s registration and use of the domain name has been done in bad faith within the contemplation of Policy ¶ 4(a)(iii). See Sota v. Waldron, D2001-0351 (WIPO June 18, 2001) (finding that a respondent’s registration of the domain name <seveballesterostrophy.com> at the time of the announcement of the Seve Ballesteros Trophy golf tournament “strongly indicates an opportunistic registration”); see also Thermo Electron Corp. v. Xu, FA 713851 (Nat. Arb. Forum July 12, 2006) (“If there had been any doubt as to bad faith, the fact that registration was on the same day the news leaked about the merger, which was put in evidence, is a compelling indication of bad faith that respondent has to refute and which he has failed to do. The panel finds a negative inference from this.”).
The full details of the ruling have been released and can be read online here.
For Microsoft Corporation, it’s officially one down, one to go. Unofficially, it’s likely many more.
As I reported yesterday, Microsoft is going after another phony Halo 4 Beta site. A complaint was filed (Case Number: 1432610) with the National Arbitration Forum over Halo4Beta.biz (screenshot). The domain name is owned by a resident of Illinois according to Whois records.
[Update 2 on March 7, 2012:. Microsoft Corporation won the rights to Halo4Beta.net. On March 6, 2012, a single-member panel ordered the domain name transferred from Edward Lee (the respondent) to Microsoft (the complainant).]
[Update 1 on March 5, 2012:. Microsoft is going after another phony Halo 4 Beta site. A complaint has now been filed (Case Number: 1432610) with the National Arbitration Forum over Halo4Beta.biz (screenshot) The domain name is owned by a resident of Illinois according to Whois records. I’ve reached out the owner for more information and will update this post if I hear back.]
Original story on January 28, 2012:. Nearly two weeks ago, David Ellis of 343 Industries, the company that is developing Halo 4, warned Halo fans through Twitter that if you see a site claiming to allow you to sign up for a Halo 4 beta it’s a fake.
The site in question was hosted at Halo4beta.net (pictured above), and now Microsoft’s legal team is taking action by going after the domain name.
Apparently wanting to avoid legal troubles after gaming sites went abuzz with David Ellis’ warning, the operator of Halo4beta.net took the website down, but that’s not going to be enough for Microsoft.
Microsoft can fully expect to have the National Arbitration Panel order the name be transferred, in what should be an open-and-shut case.
Stay tuned as I’ll be posting the details of the decision as soon as they’re available, likely no more than a few weeks from now.
Halo 4 has a holiday season 2012 release date.
Last June, Microsoft acquired the domain name Halo4.com for an undisclosed amount of cash, rather than filing a domain dispute. When I asked the seller about the selling price/negotiations with Microsoft, the seller told me via e-mail, “The only term of the agreement that I can disclose is that I can’t disclose any terms of the agreement.”