(Photo by Flickr user Prayitno, used under a Creative Commons license)
Until recently, the company, which sells software that can turn any Windows computer into a WiFi hotspot, had been using Connectify.me as its main website. It had tried to acquire Connectify.com, but once Connectify put the money into escrow, Connectify.com’s owners backed out, Connectify president Bhana Grover said in an email.
Even without Connectify.com, Connectify’s software has been downloaded 65 million times, with its hotspots being used more than 500 million times, Grover said. Still, the company was worried about how much incoming traffic they were missing without having a .com domain.
So, Connectify decided to try filing a complaint with ICANN, the organization that oversees website names, since Connectify owned the trademark for its company name. ICANN has the power to decide who has the legal rights to a domain name.
After Connectify filed the ICANN complaint, Connectify.com’s owners came back and asked for more money.
“Our lawyers advised us not to give more money for the domain, but to spend our money on the legal system!” Grover wrote.
Then, out of nowhere, Cisco’s lawyers send Connectify’s lawyers a letter saying they would transfer the domain to them — for free.
Turns out that the owners of Connectify.com — a Seattle-based company called Pure Networks, according to Cisco spokeswoman Robyn Blum — sold their company to Cisco in 2008, making Cisco the legal owners of the site. Blum confirmed that Cisco handed over the domain.
How did Cisco catch wind of the domain dispute? Blum wouldn’t say.
Connectify’s Grover offered this theory: “We believe that Cisco must be monitoring ICANN complaints to see if they have anything to do with their interests.” As a thank you, Connectify is offering a free one-year license of its software to Cisco employees.