Among the legions of legitimate domain holders on the internet are a band of squatters that make a living from holding corporate trademarks hostage. These folks look to snatch the identities of companies by registering domain names that use or mimic that corporations trademarks. Then they ransom these names back to the owner of that identity, sometimes for thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
That's what we thought had happened last week when we discovered that someone had claimed iotum.mobi. Because the domain was anonymously registered, Howard asked the .mobi registrar to send email to the owner, which they did. Shortly after, he got a reply.
The owner, it turns out, was a "wannabe geek" (in his own words) named Kevin Billingsly. An Indiana steel worker, he also runs several small businesses on the side, including a PC repair business and a promotional products company called ePowerServe, LLC that does embroidery, screen printing, vinyl prints, and other kinds of graphic arts products. Kevin had a vision for a mobile search engine — a small lightweight application which would be the single place for people to search from mobile devices. He thought iotum might be a good name for such an engine, and registered it… in October.
He could have held us hostage. He could have forced us to jump through hoops with the registrar, in hopes that the registrar might agree that we did, in fact, own the iotum name. He could have done a lot of things to make life difficult. Instead, he simply asked where he should transfer the name, and by way of explanation added that he didn't think he had any right to it given how long we had been in business. What an incredible act of honesty, integrity and generosity!
From the team at iotum: Thank you, Kevin Billingsly. And if we need any graphics work done, we'll be sure to give you a call.