GoDaddy Prevails in Lawsuit Over Oscar Trademarks

GoDaddy Inc prevailed in a cybersquatting lawsuit brought by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which accused the Internet domain registrar of illegally profiting off its trademarks, including for the Oscar telecasts.

In a 129-page decision on Thursday, U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte in Los Angeles said the Academy failed to show that GoDaddy acted in bad faith by letting customers purchase 293 domain names such as academyawards.net, oscarsredcarpet.com, billycrystal2012oscars.com and theoscargoestothehangover.com.

The Academy sued GoDaddy in 2010, accusing the Scottsdale, Arizona-based company of letting customers “park” their pages on the Internet and share in revenue collected from advertising on those pages.

It sought statutory damages of $100,000 per infringement, equal to more than $29 million (roughly Rs. 192 crores), court papers showed.

Birotte, however, said GoDaddy “reasonably relied” on its users’ representations that their domain registrations did not infringe any trademarks, including the Academy’s.

He also said GoDaddy always, and sometimes within a matter of minutes, reassigned domains to advertising-free templates after trademark holders filed takedown requests.

“Any inadvertent use by GoDaddy of domain names that are confusingly similar or identical to the AMPAS Marks via its automated processes was unintentional,” Birotte wrote. “AMPAS has failed to prove that GoDaddy had the required specific bad faith intent to profit from the AMPAS marks.”

Birotte ruled after a four-day, non-jury trial in early August.

“We are disappointed at the court’s decision,” an Academy spokeswoman said. “While we appreciate the court’s recognition of the strength of the Academy’s marks, we believe the court should have found that the GoDaddy Parked Pages program improperly uses those marks. We will evaluate our appellate options.”

Nima Kelly, GoDaddy’s general counsel, said the company “has always supported brand owners in protecting their intellectual property rights,” and that the decision supports its efforts to protect the legitimate interests of customers and brand owners.

GoDaddy went public five months ago, and generated $770.8 million (roughly Rs. 5,105 crores) of revenue from January to June.

The case is Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences v. GoDaddy.com Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, No. 10-03738.

Google, Twitter and Publishers Seek Faster Web

In a world where many people read everything on mobile phones, a few seconds of load time can mean the gain or loss of millions of readers and advertising dollars. Now Google wants to help publishers – and itself – by speeding things up.

Google is working with the social media service Twitter and major news publishers like The Guardian and The New York Times to create a new kind of Web link and article storage system that would load online news articles and digital magazine pieces in a few milliseconds, according to several people involved in the project. That is a fraction of the 5 to 10 seconds it can take to load a typical website.

The project is still in its early stages, and many details are still in flux, according to the people involved, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the partners had not yet made an announcement.

The goal is to develop a universal standard for publishers – one that could be used to load articles more quickly wherever they appear. But accomplishing that while retaining the look and feel of those pages has proved difficult.

The effort is also an attempt to protect the Web from the onslaught of mobile applications and steer publishers away from the closed, proprietary systems that are being built by companies like Facebook,Apple and Snapchat.

“Google and Twitter are rightly fearful that publishers are going to start doing something specific for Facebook and they will become an afterthought,” said Danny Sullivan, founding editor of Search Engine Land, an industry publication that closely tracks Google and the search industry.

The move is one of several Google initiatives meant to increase its influence with publishers. The company is also exploring ways to use its search engine to increase traffic to high-quality publisher content.

According to the people involved in the project, publishers would have to slightly alter their articles’ Web coding and make it available to be copied, or cached, so that it could be quickly loaded on Web browsers, Twitter or other services, even those that don’t participate. But articles would look and behave like anything else on the Web – complete with banner ads, photos and links to other articles.

Snapdeal Counters Flipkart With 1-Hour Refunds

Snapdeal announced the launch of its Instant Refunds facility, which would help its customers get refunds within an hour of Snapdeal receiving a returned product.

The announcement comes less than a fortnight after Flipkart announced the launch of its instant refund mechanism facility that will help its customers get refunds as early as within 24 hours of returning a product.

Snapdeal said that the system was based on an API-based, real-time secure instant refund transfer system based on IMPS (Inter-Bank Mobile Payments Service) technology used by one of largest private banks of India. According to the company, the system adheres to all banking regulations and security mechanisms, and has a failover mechanism that auto-switches to NEFT transfers in cases where the customer’s bank doesn’t support IMPS.

In an emailed statement, Anand Chandrasekaran, Chief Product Officer, Snapdeal, said that the firm had over 85 percent of the refunds taking place within 30 minutes, and close to a hundred percent of the refunds took place within an hour.

“We hope that customers never want a refund, but we respect that it is a crucial part of the customer return experience,” he said.

Snapdeal and Flipkart, two of the largest-funded startups in India have had a history of countering each other on public forums.

Flipkart seems to be steadfast in its vision of pursuing a mobile-only approach going forward – “If you win on mobile, you win everything; If you lose on mobile, you lose everything!” Sachin Bansal said at the GMIC Bangalore on Thursday. Snapdeal has been outspoken about its string of pearls strategy, and believes in inconveniencing itself over the customer.

Study Finds How Hashtags Affect Language on Twitter

When tweeters use hashtags – a practice that can enable messages to reach more people – they tend to be more formal and drop the use of abbreviations and emoticons, finds a new study conducted by a team that includes an Indian American researcher.

But when Twitter users use the @ symbol to address smaller audiences, they are more likely to use non-standard words such as “nah,” “cuz” and “smh,” said the team from Georgia Institute of Technology.

They also found when people write to someone from the same city, they are even more likely to use non-standard language – often language that is specific to that geographical area.

“Since social media facilitates conversations between people all over the world, we were curious why we still see such a remarkable degree of geographical differentiation in online language,” explainedlead researcher Jacob Eisenstein, assistant professor in Georgia Tech’s school of interactive computing.

The findings show that the most geographically differentiated language is more likely to be used in messages that will reach only a local audience, and therefore, will be less likely to spread to other locations.

For this, Eisenstein’s team sifted through three years of tweets that included 114 million geotagged messages from 2.77 million users.

“People want to show their regional identity or their tech savviness, using Twitter-specific terms, to their close social network ties,” added Umashanthi Pavalanathan, Georgia Tech graduate research scientist.

This research shows that for many people on Twitter, non-standard English is not a question of ability, but of reserving standard English for the right social situations.

“In this sense, heavy social media users have an especially nuanced understanding of language, since they maintain multiple linguistic systems. They know to use each system when it’s socially appropriate,” the authors noted in a paper appeared in the journal American Speech.

Rich People Have Less Facebook Friends From Abroad: Study

If you think people from higher social classes have more friends abroad, you are probably wrong. According to Facebook data, wealthy people globally have less Facebook friends from other countries and more friends from their home countries.

The study by University of Cambridge, conducted in collaboration with Facebook, shows a correlation between people’s social and financial status and the levels of internationalism in their friendship networks.

“The findings point to the possibility that the wealthy stay more in their own social bubble but this is unlikely to be ultimately beneficial. If you are not engaging internationally then you will miss out on that international resource that flow of new ideas and information,” explained study co-author Dr Aleksandr Spectre from Cambridge.

According to researchers, the results are in line with what’s known as the “restricting social class” hypothesis.

It means that high-social class individuals have greater resources and, therefore, depend less on others with the wealthy tending to be less socially engaged, particularly with those from groups other than their own, as a result.

To understand this, the research team conducted two studies – one local and one global.

The global study used a dataset of billions of Facebook friendships.

For the first study, the team recruited 857 people and asked them to self-report their perceived social status.

The volunteers also provided researchers access to their Facebook networks.

The results indicated that low-social class people have nearly 50 percent more international friends than high-social class people.

For the second global study, the team approached Facebook directly who provided data on every friendship formed over the network in every country in the world at the national aggregate level for 2011.

The dataset included over 57 billion friendships.

The team again found a negative correlation between social class – this time on a national level – and the percentage of Facebook friends from other countries.

“For people from low-social class countries, 35 percent of their friendships on average were international, compared to 28 percent average in high-social class countries,” the authors noted.

The findings provide support for the “restricting social class” hypothesis at both local and global level.

The results also highlight how those from lower social classes are taking advantage of platforms like Facebook to increase their social capital beyond national borders.

The results were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.