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The Internet

Back-Ordering Domain Names 45

gunner800 writes: "CNN.com has a decently-researched story about SnapNames, which offers a service to monitor domain expiration. Working with several registrars, they can purchase a domain name on your behalf as soon as it becomes available. Future plans include watching for registration of typos and 'malicious derivatives' (yournamesucks.com). My first thought was 'What if someone competes with SnapNames and offers the same 'back-order' service?'"
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Back-Ordering Domain Names

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Hmm, not really i wouldn't think, because mainly due to the fact that most domain providers specify "You have 2 years" or whatnot. If the big time companies actually let their domain name expire...it is their fault, i feel
  • Oh yeah we really need that dont we, it would be a domain squatters heaven. Imagine being able to claim any number of domain names without using them and not having to renew every couple of years in case someone want to buy it off you.. Every single possible domain combination in the .com heirachy would be taken within a couple of years and NEVER released, except when forced off by legal action.
  • That's easy--just patent back-ordering domain names.

    My first thought was 'What if someone competes with SnapNames and offers the same 'back-order' service?'
  • that this happened.. [slashdot.org] and yes i agree it is their fault. the next person probably will not be so nice.

    use LaTeX? want an online reference manager that
  • I used to work for an Internet company where one of my tasks was to maintain a perl script that, once a day, pulled down whois reports on domains the NBA claimed they had legal right to.

    Copies of the daily report would go to me, my boss, and the NBA legal department, if any domains had become available or changed status. I was expected to register anything that became available, although on some they were dreaming: they had no more right to wizards.com for the Washington Wizards than does the Wizards of the Coast, and they are never likely to get it.

    Towards the end of my stint there, it became unwieldy to maintain the script, due to deliberate outages by NSI, and changing formats. However, it is notable that some mornings, domains that had become available were already snapped up, implying that there were others using a similar scheme to grab names.

    It will be impossible for SnapNames to make any promises about your ability to grab names, unless they have some sort of agreement with NSI.


    -- Chris Goldman
  • Your post is a very interesting analysis, and unfortunately it does reflect a lot of the common thinking and even legal practice that occurs at the present time. However, I find that it makes reference to a fundamental flaw in legal reasoning that I find particularly common and disturbing.

    Trademarks, service marks, and trade names have one particular reason for existing: to help to avoid customer confusion. We want consumers to be able to make informed market choices by having some assurance that if a product or service is labeled with an identifiable brand, then the same company that they expect from previous experiences is providing that product or service.

    However, the vital point is that more than one entity can hold trade name rights to the same sequence of characters. This can happen in a number of ways. For example, the entities could hold rights in separate and non-overlapping jurisdictions, such as one holder in the U.S. and another in Canada, or one holder of a mark in California and another in Florida. Additionally, and even more importantly, two or more entities can hold rights to a mark in the same jurisdiction if they are in sufficiently different businesses that their simultaneous use of the name in the market will not cause consumer confusion. (Remember, this is the only purpose for the legal standing of the marks in the first place.) The classic example here is the mark "United".

    Now, modern "intellectual property" lawyers are trying to convince everyone that we should suddenly change everything and ignore the above. Of course, they aren't presenting it that way publicly. What they say is that they are protecting the "intellectual property" and trademark rights of their clients in the new electronic sphere. However, in their actions they are making preposterous claims, and unfortunately many people seem to be accepting their position uncritically.

    When you suggest that International Business Machines, the current holder of the ibm.com domain name, has the right to sue for trademark infringement anyone who registers ibm.com, despite the availability caused by, say, a lapse in the domain registration by International Business Machines, you are falling for a line. Why exactly does that IBM have this right? If there's a company in France with the registered French trademark Immeuble Baisemain that puts on a show about selling real-estate, and it's convenient for their customers to call them by a three letter acronym, why shouldn't they have as much right to the domain name as, say, International Business Machines? Can you seriously imagine that their website will confuse people into thinking that they provide computer hardware, software, and consulting services from International Business Machines? And if it somehow does, can't IBM U.S. just sue them?

    Isn't it much more likely that the lawyers of the world are just stretching the law in this novel area as far as they think they can take it, simply because it is in their interest to provide their clients with the best possible outcome, justified or not?

    So, while I agree with you that the business method that SnapNames is providing is ridiculous and should be superseded by a true secondary market in domain names, I find the reasoning that you use along the way to be dangerously incorrect. What's worse is that, if enough people make the sort of mistakes that you have (and there are plenty who do, you do not need to feel any shame), then the lawyers might be able to successfully argue down the road that consumer confusion will inevitably result in the use of a trademarked term in a domain name by any entity that is not the one among the set of holders of a valid registration that provisions the largest legal department.

    ---

    Q: What is the concept of Fair Use, as you understand it?

    Jack Valenti: It means that libraries or schoolteachers can play movies in their classrooms for educational purposes.

  • And thats why you pay property taxes, so you DONT end up costing the government money, its just going a round-about way till it gets paid for those utilities and services

    just my $.02
  • sort of like two threads fighting for a resource without locking?
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • "My first thought was 'What if someone competes with SnapNames and offers the same 'back-order' service?'"

    They'll sue for patent infringement!

    Or maybe not, this service has the chance to be profitable, ergo, no need to make up revenue via lawsuits... Hm...
    --
    Peace,
    Lord Omlette
    ICQ# 77863057
  • This is just going to open the door for people to grab domains and sell them back at horribly inflated prices if the owner is late with payment.

    Remember when hotmail.com didn't get reregistered in time? A nice person bought it and pointed it towards the `correct' servers, maybe next time somebody will not be so lucky.
  • You're right. I recently just gave up on network solutions and went to register.com to get new domain names. The stupid network solutions system is unusable. You submit an email request and it never works. In my case, after 4 submissions it actually worked but I got an email back saying that my request had been denied....even though it went through.
  • This should be illegal. Waiting for some poor fool to forget to pay for their domain and lose it. I think any .com domain should not expire until that company says they don't need the name anymore.
  • sort of like two threads fighting for a resource without locking?

    Threads with lawyers.


    My mom is not a Karma whore!

  • This is nothing new. CNN just fell for a press release. Many companies have been doing this for a long time. However, it's really a crap shoot, as so many other domain speculators are out there looking to acquire any decent expired domain name. Hell, now Network Solutions hardly ever deletes domains that they have put on hold - no doubt holding out for the day when they can start auctioning them all off. 2 years ago, when the new TLDs were bring proposed, several companies started offering reservation services - for $25 you could have a first shot when the new top level domains became available. Personally, I wish I would have done this scam, imaging people paying you $25 so that you would "try" and register a name for them....
  • For starters, this could be a pretty valuable service for businesses. SnapNames will let you know if your domain gets screwed with or you accidentally let it slip, and for a few extra bucks they'll renew it for you. Nice way to keep your web-site connected to the rest of the internet, if your employees aren't bright enough to do it for you (cough *hotmail* cough).

    Monitoring domains to keep an eye on competitors and detractors isn't a big deal. The worst we'll see is an automated cease-and-desist system.

    I doubt it would be very effective as a way to steal domain names though. ICANN's rules, screwy though they may be, are still in effect. You can't buy a domain name just to hold it for ransom. And most companies have copyrights or trademarks protecting their domain name. Individuals may get screwed over, but this isn't really a new phenomenon, just a faster way to do it.

    I am a bit concerned by the collaboration with registrars. They give SnapNames "instant" access to registration. What do the rest of us get? If there is a substantial difference, is it fair for the registrars to sell preferencial access like that? Legal?

  • I think the idea of that comment was that two people might be waiting for the same domain to expire... that could cause a bit of trouble...
  • How long does it take for an expired domain to become available again? I've got my eye on one such domain that expired earlier in the month, but NetSol, et. al., say it's unavailable. The NS for the domain don't answer for it, so I can't even contact the owner (not that I necessarily would, but if I wanted to, I couldn't).
  • All of the other comments seem to say that this is a service to aid domain name squatters. After a quick look through their site, however, it appears that their main emphasis is on protecting your own domain or getting a domain from a squatter. I strongly doubt that any decent business would let their domain expire (except for hotmail [slashdot.org]). So, the only thing that this could be intended for is someone wanting a domain, and some domain squatter wants 10 grand for it. Instead of paying the cash, he nabs it when it expires, because chances are he wants it more than a domain squatter.

    I don't really think this is a bad service. Anyways, if someone does steal a business domain name, it could always be taken to the courts...

    -mdek.net [mdek.net]
  • lets try whois next time

    $ whois slashdotsucks.org

    BW whois 2.1 by Bill Weinman
    Copyright 1999-2000 William E. Weinman
    connecting to whois.internic.net [198.41.0.6] ...
    connecting to whois.corenic.net [194.245.103.107] ...
    Registrar: whois.corenic.net
    Slashdotsucks.org (template COCO-17668)
    cjoh@home.com
    5 Spring Brook Road
    Narraganset, RI 02882 US

    Domain Name: slashdotsucks.org
    Status: production

    Admin Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    Clay Johnson (COCO-17668) cjoh@clayjohnson.org
    617 555 6687

    CORE Registrar: CORE-11

    Record last modified: 2000-07-16 20:44:36 UTC by CORE-11
    Record created: 1999-10-14 01:15:37 UTC by CORE-11
    Record expires: 2001-10-13 00:00:00 UTC

    Domain servers in listed order:

    ns.clayjohnson.org 209.6.192.116
    descartes.knowpost.com 64.14.93.134

    Database last updated on 2000-12-24 18:54:35 UTC
  • How long will it wait? If it snaps it up the instant it becomes availible does that really give the owner a fair chance at getting it? This service is kind of intresting though, but it's also a litle scary, I think I'm going to go review when my bills are due
  • Hmm. Other than failed dot-coms giving up their domain names, that'd leave the big-name companies who might accidentally forget to renew their domain name. Wouldn't we see a lot more lawsuits then?
  • I went looking for a connection to NSI (which would definitely be a worst case scenario), and didn't find one (though their info is sparse on the topic of existing partnerships and affiliations) For those who are curious:

    Per the SnapNames website [snapnames.com]:

    Ron Wiener [snapnames.com] Co-Founder - Chairman & CEO
    Raymond King [snapnames.com] Co-Founder - Executive Vice President & Director
    (Click above names for photo and brief bio. See website link above for info on the other major execs)

    Bill Lewis Chief Operating Officer
    Len A. Bayles Vice President, Domain Name Industry Relations
    Nelson Brady Vice President, Engineering
    Jack Williamson, Jr. Chief Financial Officer
    Roy Anderson, Jr. Vice President, Branding Industry Relations

    More on Ron Weiner:
    (from a speaker list [state.or.us] at a plenary session on aviation in Oregon.

    Ron Wiener has twelve years of experience as a founder and CEO of high-tech and aviation-tech start-up companies. Currently he is "Chief Mechanic" at Venture Mechanics, LLC (Portland), a venture catalyst/incubator investing in early-stage technology companies. Previously, he was the founder and CEO of PrintBid.com, which he successfully sold to ImageX.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: IMGX) in December, 1999. PrintBid.com is a B2B e-commerce site for the commercial printing industry and commands an 80% market share in its arena. Combined, ImageX.com now employs 500 people as the industry leader. Prior to founding PrintBid, Wiener was founder and CEO of Distribution Sciences Corp./JetStream Catalog(Hillsboro, OR), a leading software publisher and catalog/internet distributor of over 1,000 products to the aviation industry.

    Before moving to Oregon in 1991, Wiener was founder, Chairman and Sr. VP of Marketing of Azure Technology (San Jose, CA), a venture-backed manufacturer of avionics and flight simulation products, and catalog publisher in the aviation industry. Earlier he had served in sales, marketing, product management and product development roles with Central Point Software (Symantec), ICOT (American Airlines' SABRE), Orchid Technology, Eagle Computer and The Computer Factory retail chain.

    Wiener was founding president in 1992 of the Oregon Young Entrepreneurs Assoc. (merged with OEF), and author of over 150 published technical, business and aviation articles, and the book Computers and Software in General Aviation (1987). He studied Electrical Engineering/Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University, and serves on the Advisory Board of several other Internet companies. He has been an active pilot since 1985 and operates his B36TC Bonanza out of Hillsboro, OR.
  • Oddly, under Internet Exploiter, http://slashdotsucks.org [slashdotsucks.org] resolves to this site [clayjohnson.org]. I doubt this means it is registered (www.slashdotsucks.org doesn't do this), probably just another bug^H^H^Hfeature of the browser.
  • Really, this would be good if they released expired domain names promptly. Really, as it is now, this isn't much use. All it will do is hurt individuals and small businesses who are late in payment by making it easier to steal their domains. It won't be easier to get domains from squatters, and it won't protect your domains at all.

    Avoid this. This company is trying to rip off both you and the person who has the domain now.

  • Right, but the flaw with your analogy is that once the signpost is up telling everyone where you live, there's no additional cost to keeping the signpost there.

    Squatting on a real-life piece of land isn't without its costs to society: the government must defend your land against invasion, must likely keep it connected to public utilities, and must otherwise patrol it from tresspassers and fires. If you're not conducting any commerce with your land, you're actually *costing* the government money. It's the same with domain-name services.
  • Property taxes don't cover it all, or necessarily any of it. That's why you see so much hoopla about how a new project is supposed to generate more commerce or increase jobs or bring in buyers from out of state. If property taxes were enough, then you wouldn't need any of that. But what people in government already know and what you have yet to learn, it seems, is that you can't squeeze blood from a turnip, and you can't squeeze cash out of a vacant plot of land. What are you going to do, tax the squirrels for their right to drag their bums across the dirt and up the trees? It's a losing proposition.
  • Imagine if another company did this. They would both fill out the forms, and reply send in the template, and would not really know if they got it until they recieved the last email. Whoever didn't get it would think that the system was pending forever.
  • I think all domains should be first come first serve.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Is http://slashdotsucks.org registered?
  • The registrar keeps the domain on hold for a period, in which it is unavailable for purchase. Network Solutions have been criticised for doing a Sony Bono on the duration of this period.
  • y'know - i have a few domains that are about to be up for renewal, and have moved since i last had my nic handle address updated. been trying to get the address changes and it won't take. when i try to modify via the email form i get a response about 'consolidating multiple' handles for domains' when all i'm trying to alter is changes the address on one handle so the invoice doesn't fall through the cracks. it'd been a while since i dealt with network solutions - i'm surprised it's become more of a hassle than before now that there's competition. bozos.
  • This may be a bit of nit picking but, "SnapNames receives a copy of that change and maintains its own comprehensive database of domain name registrations called Whois."


    so their database called 'whois' is unique?

  • Snapnames.com have their own "Lawyers Area".

    Seriously, I suspect that this is all either

    • About suing Network Solutions for not releasing expired domains

    • OR
    • About Network Solutions making some good money off expiring domains
    I just can't be arsed to trawl through their sites to try and fugure out if NS and Snapnames are connected.
  • . .

    Trademarks, service marks, and trade names have one particular reason for existing: to help to avoid customer confusion

    I think that you will find that your perspective is a byproduct of the development in law, not such perspectives the cause of it.

    In fact, if you think about it, your statement / opinion is tortological. You have to think of the sequence causal actions involved in creating a product : It is rather the vendor who decides a name for a product than a consumer who asks for a product of a certain type to be named such and such.

    As I already mentioned, the legal form of trademark, derived in case law from the tort of deceipt.

    US civil code, Title 15, Section 1125 cites, and its wording echoes this:

    False designations of origin, false descriptions, and dilution forbidden.
    (a) Civil Action

    (1)Any person who Any person who, on or in connection with any goods or services, or any container for goods, uses in commerce any word, term, name, symbol, or device, or any combination thereof, or any false designation of origin, false or misleading description of fact, or false or misleading representation of fact, which -

    (A) is likely to cause confusion, or to cause mistake, or to deceive as to the affiliation, connection, or association of such person with another person, or as to the origin, sponsorship, or approval of his or her goods, services, or commercial activities by another person, or

    (B) in commercial advertising or promotion, misrepresents the nature, characteristics, qualities, or geographic origin of his or her or another person's goods, services, or commercial activities, shall be liable in a civil action by any person who believes that he or she is or is likely to be damaged by such act.

    . .

    When you say "When you suggest that International Business Machines, the current holder of the ibm.com domain name, has the right to sue for trademark infringement anyone who registers ibm.com, despite the availability caused by, say, a lapse in the domain registration by International Business Machines, you are falling for a line. I most assure you I am not.

    The Federal Trademarks Act of 1995 cited the likelihood of consumer confusion as a means to protect _famous_ marques, in particular it introduced the effect of a larger legal footprint for such marques, such as IBM. Because the collateral value of being able to trade as IBM (and the cost of attaining such wide recognition) is so high , they have been afforded, along with, say Apple Computer, additional protection, against similar or confusing marques _in _any _line of business, and against anyone who seeks to represent a famous marque for their own benefit. Yes, you _could_ try to start a non - profit organisation called, shall we say Imbecilic Burocratic Morons, but obtaining someone else's means to their business would be an infringement and would create a liability for damages. By your argument you could imply that Gary Kremen, the original owner of sex.com should not have it returned. (see Wired's coverage [hotwired.com].)

    In the next section of your argument, you propose some things which are easily answered : "Why exactly does that IBM have this right? If there's a company in France with the registered French trademark Immeuble Baisemain that puts on a show about selling real-estate, and it's convenient for their customers to call them by a three letter acronym, why shouldn't they have as much right to the domain name as, say, International Business Machines? Can you seriously imagine that their website will confuse people into thinking that they provide computer hardware, software, and consulting services from International Business Machines? And if it somehow does, can't IBM U.S. just sue them?"

    First up, IBM has that right because they used a marque to designate products which they maintained in the marketplace. With a high degree of certainty they began using the name when _no-one _else _ did. So we have a designator for a company. By using the marque, they made it distinct _of_their_own actions. To suggest that they should not benefit from this strikes me as unfair on any business.

    Now for Immeuble Baisemain (ugh), as a registered marque, you have to ask the question : who has superior rights? For this you would look at the First Use in Commerce rules, and these would, in fact apply internationally, under, originally Treaty of Paris 1846, and - more up to date, US Code Title 15, Chapter 22, SubCh III, Sec 1126, (a).

    Because you have not established precedence, or first use in commerce for your example, it is moot.

    In so far as you imply that no confusion would exist if I tapped in www.ibm.com and got a French realtor and could not easily find IBM's site or any of my bookmarks to that (or neither could any of IBM's customers or intranet users), I suggest that that would in fact cause a *lot* of confusion. The effect would be tantamount to a stranger taking over your shop-front on main street. Customers would still come, but for all that advertising and promotion, money and goodwill you spent over the years saying "come to 1055 Main and Second for the best firkins in town", you'd have to redo, and *still* you'd loose some business, whatever you did.

    "And if it somehow does, can't IBM U.S. just sue them?" - That's the whole point, I was merely showing the basis under which they rightly could.

    "Now, modern "intellectual property" lawyers are trying to convince everyone that we should suddenly change everything and ignore the above. Of course, they aren't presenting it that way publicly. What they say is that they are protecting the "intellectual property" and trademark rights of their clients in the new electronic sphere. However, in their actions they are making preposterous claims, and unfortunately many people seem to be accepting their position uncritically

    I've taken your paragraph out of sequence, because you were making unsupported and unrelated assertions in aid of your surrounding argument. There is no way that current lawers could easily overturn a history of case law and precedent. That does not preclude the possibility of political lobbying for interpretations, which is a separate and contentious topic. Now, if you are a lawyer employed by a company with a tenuous claim, it may be thought expediant to put out a little propoganda, the sort of which might give rise to the formation of opinions such as yours. However, that alone does not a case make (nor a rebuttal by logical reverse of the said lawyers' corporate polemic). Preposterous claims aside (which are common in times of rapid gain or exchange of wealth (think back to Vanderbilt's day)), the best response is to learn, know and practise the known law. If that doesn't work, you can _base _ on _ that a political response. That may appear to be the course of action you want to take, and whilst I may not endorse the specifics of what you say, debate is *sorely* needed and is one major reason for my long response.

    Isn't it much more likely that the lawyers of the world are just stretching the law in this novel area as far as they think they can take it, simply because it is in their interest to provide their clients with the best possible outcome, justified or not?

    I'm not so sure there is any "novel idea" involved, except money making. And, dammit, if I employ someone to work for me I sure as heck want them to support my interests. (although I should hope that my interests are properly justifiable before promulgating them).

    Finally, I am pleased you agree that SnapNames may not be the best thing under the sun. But I am concerned that you baldly claim I have made such elementary and potentially damaging mistakes in my previous post. Your aside "(and there are plenty who do, you do not need to feel any shame)" is a very smart rhetorical device to imply I should admit (or imply I should admit this, to readers) that I am in fact elementarily mistaken. I don't think so.

  • Not all lawyers assume it's bad faith. Some companies use the threat of litigation to try to get what they want, though they have no right to it.

  • aww, They won't let my snap up snapnames.com when it comes up for renewal.
  • It won't stand up in court. If you grab a domain name with that sort of bad faith goal, you can't win in court.

    I think it will come in handy for the people or organizations that wish to compete for a name but both have good faith reasons for doing so.

  • by MousePotato ( 124958 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @08:19AM (#1418162) Homepage Journal
    What if this was available when Microsoft had forgotten to renew the hotmail domain? I mean could someone just have snagged it instead of renewing it (out of frustration for not getting thier own email) and stopped the millions of spams that hit our email boxen?Not sure if this is a good thing or not. The potential for abuse could be kind of high considering how many people are way too busy to moniter the status of expirations and the amount of expirations that occur daily at over 10,000 or so. It has been my experience that NSI holds on to domain names just to prevent this type of 'legitamate' domain hijacking.

  • by new500 ( 128819 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @09:30AM (#1418163)

    . .

    Its going to be interesting to guess where the bulk of SnapNames' busines is going to come from.

    Now if you think that they are going to have lots of lucrative business from big corporations, I ask you this : just how many large outfits with a big web presence (yeah, Hotmail aside) are *not* on the ball wrt their domain properties and the intellectual property and trademark rights which may apply to them?

    Now whilst there have been a number of instances of _registered_ trademark owners expanding their name spaces over innocent registrants of similar names, for _registered_ trademarks which are _famous_ , action against confusingly similar names by those with an established presence is an intelligable component of the law.

    Registered, Federal or national trademark or not, if you have a business name or domain through which you conduct trade, you will likely have acquired common law trademark rights thru use.

    Now both the Federal type registrations as well as the common law aspects of trademark have basis in "passing off" (imitating to obtain a competitor's business) and these laws themselves derive from the tort of deceit.

    If a party willingly and knowingly assists another party in infringing actions, the infringed party is able to bring suit against the body or agency who made this "assist" on the basis they have made a contributory infringement.

    This works in much the same way as if you send me a warez copy of Office2000 and I publish it on my website, I am also responsible by my actions to infringe the copyright of the owner. (this is a very blunt analogy, but the specific differences are a very long post).

    I see some difficulties with SnapNames' modus operandi :

    Firstly, the "Snap-shot" monitoring service, for which the first 20 monitored names are free (therafter $20 per 100). Now, if I am Big Corp A and I have say a few important domains, exactly how does this benefit me? This many is easy to monitor, and in any case it is no hardship to ensure renewals happen well in advance of expiry, and for long periods. SnapNames makes no money here. In fact SnapNames makes nothing out of this monitoring service until someone wants 120 names watched for status. How many people have legitimate rights over 120 names? I know some porn redirector operators own thousands, but seriously, is that really SnapNames target market? And for anyone else, is a random sample of 120 names not going to have residual rights in trademark, common law or registered, remaining with previous owners. It may be that SnapNames are making a statistical play, and I have not the data to see their justifications.

    Now to their "SnapBack" service, for which I'll quote their FAQ :

    7. How do I use Snap-Back to "back order" a domain name? You can use the Snap-Back service to give yourself a second chance to acquire a domain name that you would like to own but is currently registered to someone else. Please note that our service does not and never will take a domain name away from a current registrant. However, you can still sign up for Snap-Back on that name and if it ever becomes available, it gives you the best available assurance of being the first one to acquire it. In effect, you have back ordered the name in case it ever becomes available

    I am not too sure the disclaimer : ". Please note that our service does not and never will take a domain name away from a current registrant. " is really adequate.

    The idea is that a desirable domain falls off a registry and becomes available (other posters have already covered whether this will actually happen or not), and then SnapNames will run an automatic registration of that domain for you.

    What this does not take into account, where say there are trademark rights applicable to the "fallen" domain, is that abandonment of a domain registration does not constitute abandonment of a marque. It *is* possible for large companies to slip up, but that by no means suggests that IBM would have given up any associated rights to www.IBM.com because the trademark laws say that you abandon a marque only when you stop using it, or when you stop policing it, if it is a Federal registered trademark. Now for IBM to somehow simultaneously stop using its marque on all products as it "drops" its domain, _as well_ as to choose not to file suit for return of its domain citing trademark law, isto be far fetched.

    Essentially I think, even without recourse to the inner workings of trademarks, domains and related law, that SnapNames is an incitement to infringe, and the company may find itself embroiled in the middle of some nasty disputes in the future. Obviously I hope otherwise, just as I would hope that people would look and think before claiming rights on trademarks (interestingly there is very onerous code requiring possible trademark registrants to look under every stone for possible superior rights, but that is another story altogether). Having thought of that, would not making a standing application to buy a trademarked domain actually be a form of claim in itself?

    It's nice that SnapNames makes a thing of being useful to lawers. If I were entrusted with maintaining a client's domain, I'd be pretty sure to make it so I *don't* need SnapNames' services. The very lack of legal actual substance on their site, together with promised "ongoing education" (like it doesn't take a few years to learn the subject, and any professional will have an eye the case law databases almost continuously) leads me to think that angle is just a smokescreen.

  • by dodecahedron ( 231077 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @08:12AM (#1418164)
    In light of Network Solution's recent behaviour in not releasing domain names after they expire, I can't see how this service is going to work too well. Looks to me like it'll be a big flag to NetSol that here's a bunch of popular names that people are queuing up for. I made the mistake of letting an old domain 'expire' so that I could switch it to a new registrar. Big mistake. After dealing with the slack-jawed morons that answer NetSol's email ("That domain is still unavailable." Well no shit, Sherlock. It hasn't been paid for in months. FIX YOUR RECORDS), it took 6 months before it finally was released. How's SnapNames going to hop on an 'expired' name that remains unavailable for months? And are they going to refund my money if someone else manages to beat them to it?
  • by Chuck Flynn ( 265247 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @06:53AM (#1418165)
    That's what I think is missing in the current debate about domain expiration: why can't we question the whole enterprise altogether? If you own a plot of land in the real world, then that plot of land is yours forever, no matter what you do to it and no matter what others may want to do with it instead, until you sell it. Why shouldn't it be the same with domain names? It's not as though Coca Cola is going to disappear overnight any time soon, and whoever buys them out if they do would want to keep both the trademarks and the domain names.

    What we need is not a system of forced-expiration but a system of monitored and centralized *sales* of unwanted domains. If people no longer want their old domains, then they could put them up for sale to the highest bidder, and people *would* do it, since they're not deriving much benefit from their unused domains any more than people derive benefit from vacant plots of land. And a system of *voluntary* conferral of deeds to domain names would be much more consistent with the libertarian ideals of property that our nation was founded on. It'd be a shame to turn our backs on the founding fathers and their universal and perpetual principles of government now, just because we happen to be in the "new millennium" -- their ideas apply now as much as ever.
  • by JimDabell ( 42870 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @07:01AM (#1418166) Homepage

    There is a flaw with your analogy: you aren't actually buying the domain name. You are paying a company to tell people where you want the domain to point to, over and over again.

    A better analogy would be: it's like paying somebody who owns a plot of land on the corner of a street to put up a signpost telling everyone where you live.

  • by new500 ( 128819 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @09:53AM (#1418167)
    you aren't actually buying the domain name

    In a sense you are, and you are not. What makes this confusing is you are buying an exclusive use of a domain on renewable terms with a period of contract defined therein. Actual ownership of a domain is subject to interpretaion of what a domain constitutes. IMO, absolute ownership would not be clear until you have rights such that neither a registrar nor any root server owner nor anyone else may alter or interfere with the domain name you registered and corresponding DNS entries, in perpetuity.

    If you would like to register a domain wherein the contract with the registrar confers you explicit title in ownership (albeit, once again the derivative rights from that are unclear and subject to interpretation) take a look at Gandi.net [gandi.net] who have Terms and conditions in contract [gandi.net] which appear very favourable to the registrant.

    A more philosophical way to look at this is ask yourself, if you are a home owner, whether you own that house outright, or if, as is usual, the deeds are owned by your mortgage lender and you will be paying them interest on a loan for any number of years to come. Many aspects of control derive from lend or lease variations, see Marx for some good rants.

  • by slashdoter ( 151641 ) on Sunday December 24, 2000 @06:53AM (#1418168) Homepage
    I think I'll sign up for Slashdot.org, maybe taco will get a little cought up in a game of TF2, Diablo III or whatevers out when the domain expires. muhhahahhha let the ransom money roll in! If not I rederect to goatse.cx, that would be the best Troll ever, I can hardly contain myself.


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