Since it was first reported Saturday that Microsoft had been obtaining “Xbox Gold” domains, the company has gone on the offensive registering a slew of “Xbox Gold” domains on Monday, including several international names.
These latest names are just a sampling of what Microsoft has been buying up, at a time when rumors of the next-generation Xbox being officially announced to the public within the next several weeks.
The newest registrations all took place on February 25, two days after news broke that the company had been taking an interest in “Xbox Gold” domains.
Microsoft has yet to confirm the name of its next-gen Xbox, but it’s widely speculated possible names include the Xbox 720, Xbox Infinity, Xbox 8, Xbox Durango, and Xbox Next.
Despite the unusual amount of “Xbox Gold” activity, last week and this week, it’s unknown where “Xbox Gold” ultimately fits in.
Is “Xbox LIVE Gold” being rebranded? Is “Xbox Gold” a new service? The speculation is swirling.
“Xbox Gold & Entertainment” was mentioned in an internal event agenda over the weekend, that was originally posted on the NeoGAF forum.
As promised, I did reach out to the previous owner of XboxGold.com (which Microsoft acquired last week) to find out more details about the transaction and find out if Microsoft opened up their checkbook, but have not received a response.
According to WHOIS records, Microsoft also took ownership of FreeXbox.net from the same Australian resident, so it’s possible lawyers were involved and not cash. Considering the company has won dozens of domain disputes dating back to 2003 that involved names like HackingXbox.com, it would be hard to imagine that it paid a large sum of money, unless of course, they were looking to expedite the transaction.
Disputes can often takes weeks, if not months, to decide. And it’s possible, Microsoft wants to position itself with the matching domain — something neither Sony nor Nintendo were able to do. Nintendo finally did file a complaint over Wiiu.com last week on the same day the name was to head to private auction.
As we get closer to Microsoft revealing its next-generation Xbox console, there will be a lot more talk about the name. Over the years, people have been suggesting possible names like the Xbox 720, Xbox Infinity, Xbox 8, Xbox Next, and the list goes on and on.
Given all the information already known about the next-gen console, here’s another name to throw into the ring: Xbox Gold.
Now before you say to yourself, “No way it will be called this”, this speculation isn’t entirely from left field, as Microsoft has left a new trail of domain bread crumbs recently involving the name “Xbox Gold”.
Trail of domain clues
The first clue that Microsoft may have plans to use “Xbox Gold” came two weeks ago when the company filed a complaint (Case Number: 1483759) with the National Arbitration Forum over the domain XboxGold.org. A day later, Microsoft followed up that complaint, with another over Xbox-Gold.com (Case Number: 1484502).
Then, this week, the company acquired the name XboxGold.com from its previous owner, according to WHOIS records.
Since Microsoft first filed its domain disputes earlier this month, I’ve been doing quite a bit of monitoring of Xbox Gold domains and have tracked the activity, which has led me to speculate on the next-gen console’s name.
Protecting IP or aligning next-gen console’s name with an already existing service?
You could argue Microsoft is doing nothing more than protecting its intellectual property, particularly its Xbox LIVE Gold subscription service.
It’s a possibility the company is simply defending its IP, but it’s also a possibility that the console could be named “identically to one of already existing services”, as was one of many rumors last October.
Users often refer to Xbox LIVE Gold as Xbox Gold, and if Microsoft decides to couple the next-gen console’s name with one of its already existing services, what better name than “Xbox Gold”?
While “Xbox Gold” hasn’t been one of the next-gen console names being tossed around the internet before, with all the recent steps the company has been taking to secure domain names this month, it’s a candidate.
Xbox LIVE Gold has been around for a number of years, so why start “defensively” acquiring and purchasing related names to the service a month before the rumored big reveal of the next-gen Xbox? Microsoft could have gone after the names a long time ago.
Microsoft’s report card on matching Xbox next-gen domains
The company’s report card on owning matching Xbox next-gen domain names is mixed.
Which name Microsoft goes with, may depend on what they already own.
XboxInfinity.com (WHOIS) – Microsoft does not own the domain. It is currently owned by a resident of China who registered the name after it expired in late 2012. The domain points a parked web page monetized with ads.
Xbox8.com (WHOIS) -Microsoft does not own the domain. It is also owned by a resident of China. The domain name does not resolve to a web site at the time of this story being published.
XboxDurango.com (WHOIS) – Microsoft does not own the domain. It’s parked at Go Daddy and registered to a resident of California.
XboxNext.com (WHOIS) – Microsoft does own this domain, which it uses to redirect visitors to Bing. The company has owned the domain for more than 10 years, but has never put it to use.
XboxGold.com (WHOIS) – You already know the story. Microsoft acquired the name earlier this week, but it’s unknown whether the company opened up its wallet to acquire the name, or if it threatened legal action in order to obtain it.
The next generation of console wars between Nintendo, Sony, and Microsoft is set to begin as all three manufacturers are due to release a new console in the near future. Nintendo plans to release the Wii U in 2012, while the PlayStation 4 and Xbox 720 are expected in 2013. Adding to the “war of consoles”, Sony Pictures has registered several domain names this week like ConsoleWarmovie.com (Whois) and TheConsoleWarmovie.com (Whois).
Could ‘Console War’ actually be a movie or just a creative marketing video promoting the Playstation 4?
What hints that this is more than just a video, is the names were all registered by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the television and film production/distribution unit of Sony. The names weren’t registered by Sony Computer Entertainment, the video game company.
Either way, there doesn’t appear to be any news coming out of Sony on the subject, but Sony Pictures Entertainment has picked up well over a dozen names.
Each domain was registered on August 23, 2012, through the brand protection company MarkMonitor.
Microsoft Corporation has won two disputes filed in May with the National Arbitration Forum over a batch of Xbox-related domains owned by a resident of China who goes by the name “Cheng Juan”.
The disputed names include XboxPhone.com, XboxTablet.com, XboxLiveTV.com, XboxCompanion.com, Xbox8.us and Xbox8.org.
While Microsoft’s interest in securing names like XboxLiveTV.com and XboxTablet.com is understandable, the “Xbox 8” names are a little more puzzling. That is, unless of course, Microsoft has plans for the names beyond just defensively protecting its intellectual property.
In late June, the domains listed in the disputes were ordered transferred after two separate panels found the names were identical to the XBOX marks, that the respondent had no rights or legitimate interests in the domains, and that the domains had been registered and are being used in bad faith.
Microsoft has been busy filing complaints and has a number of pending cases against the owners of Xboxliverewards.com, Xboxsports.com, Xboxsmartglass.com, and Xboxmusic.com.
As of today, no complaint has been filed against the owner of Xbox8.com, which also appears to be registered to a resident of China according to Whois.
Full details of the decisions handed down are available online.
UPDATE 2: Microsoft has unveiled Xbox SmartGlass. Engadget writes, “SmartGlass brings Airplay-style wireless technology to Xbox and Windows 8 by letting you send video from your tablet or phone to your TV. It then turns that second screen into an information window giving you data of the content you’re watching.”
UPDATE 1: Microsoft also registered microsoftsmartglass.at, microsoftsmartglass.ch, microsoftsmartglass.mx, microsoftsmartglass.in, microsoftsmartglass.pl, microsoftsmartglass.tw, smartglass.ch, smartglass.tw, xboxsmartglass.at, xboxsmartglass.in, xboxsmartglass.jp, xboxsmartglass.mx, xboxsmartglass.pl, and xboxsmartglass.tw.
ORIGINAL STORY: According to the Examiner in a story that appeared on Friday, June 1, Microsoft is rumored to be revealing its “Xbox Smart Glass” tablet at the E3 convention in Los Angeles this coming week.
With all the news swirling around the alleged “reveal”, Microsoft Corporation has registered a slew of domains with “Smart Glass” in the name like MicrosoftSmartGlass.com (Whois) and XboxSmartGlass.net (Whois). The registrations took place on the same day as the big news began to spread, but not before a resident of China beat Microsoft to XboxSmartGlass.com (Whois).
Microsoft registered many more names through the brand protection company MarkMonitor. Here’s a sample of the domains: