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    Highlights of the ICANNWatch Archive
    (June 1999 - March 2001)

    The Big Picture The Patents Are Coming
    posted by michael on Monday May 12 2003, @07:01PM

    jberryhill writes "I've often said that if you liked the trademark people, then you will love the patent people. U.S. Patent No. 6,560,634, which issued to Verisign on May 6, 2003, may be the first of several patents which promise to make life interesting for everyone.

    The patent, entitled "Method of determining unavailability of an internet domain name", was filed as an application on August 13, 1998, and has now finally found its way to issue through the bowels of the US Patent Office. The Abstract is simple enough:"

    Methods, systems, and articles of manufacture consistent with the present invention provide an improved query server that overcomes the shortcomings of existing domain name searching techniques by performing a multitude of searches simultaneously, transparent to the user. Specifically, the improved query server searches for existing domain name records in various domains and then displays the results in a formatted manner, thus eliminating the need for a user to perform individual searches.
    In other words, the patent relates to the now-familiar feature of domain registration sites, whereby you may enter a term and are shown a list of candidate domain names in various TLDs which are available for registration. A sample claim of the patent ("claims" of a patent are those portions which define the invention and, perforce, define an infringing act) reads as follows:
    1. A method in a data processing system with DNS servers, each responsible for maintaining registration records of domain names for an associated domain, comprising:
    receiving user input containing a domain name, a plurality of domains and at least one search criterion corresponding to the plurality of domains;
    transmitting a request for a search of the domain name to each of the DNS servers associated with the plurality of domains;
    receiving search results from each of the DNS servers associated with the plurality of domains indicating, for each of the specified domains, whether a domain name record exists for the domain name in the specified domain; and
    displaying the search results.
    That's it. Verisign now has the ability to shut down any registrar that conducts and displays the results of multiple TLD availability queries for a domain name. And, of course, any registrar who reads this article is now on notice of that fact.

    If you like this one, then you'll really love the pending SnapNames patent applications on the subject of registering expiring domain names...

    [Editor's note: OK, I am not a patent lawyer and John Berryhill is, but isn't this technique VeriSign has patented...obvious...in which case (after much hassle and expense) the patent could be invalidated?]

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  • VeriSign/NSI
  • U.S. Patent No. 6,560,634
  • More on The Big Picture
  • Also by michael
    This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
    The Patents Are Coming | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 37 comments | Search Discussion
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    by jberryhill on Monday May 12 2003, @07:39PM (#11604)
    User #3013 Info
    Obviousness is a question of fact under 35 U.S.C. 103. Nothing is obvious in a vacuum. In this instance, you are going to have to produce a piece of prior art, such as a printed publication or evidence of use or sale from one year prior to the application date, which shows the invention substantially as claimed. Then, you are going to have to show that any differences between the prior art and the claimed method are modifications that would be made by one of ordinary skill in the pertinent art, in accordance with a known motivation to make such modifications. Proving obviousness is more than a matter of having two parties asserting "tis" and "tis not".
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Prior Art
    by CapnB on Tuesday May 13 2003, @02:25AM (#11605)
    User #3567 Info | http://www.joel.co.uk/
    There's *shedloads* of prior art for this. I mean, just take a look at CentralNic's 'Ferret' application which we've had since late 1999 (see here [centralnic.com]).

    CTO, CentralNic Ltd. [centralnic.com]

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Intellectual Property People
    by dtobias (dan@tobias.name) on Tuesday May 13 2003, @06:15AM (#11609)
    User #2967 Info | http://domains.dan.info/
    Personally, I'm getting pretty much fed up with intellectual-property people of all sorts... they've all taken enormous liberties with the scope of their claimed property rights, to the detriment of freedom and true innovation.

    * COPYRIGHTS: Congress has steadily extended their duration (recently upheld by the Supreme Court), so that works created in the 1920s and later might never go into the public domain. This is being done largely to protect Disney characters (some of which were created in the '20s and would be public domain by now under the laws in effect at that time), though, ironically, Disney has benefited greatly from the availability of public domain stories from earlier centuries which they can adapt into movies (e.g., Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid). Meanwhile, laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act criminalize reverse-engineering around protection measures, even when it's done to enable fair use protected by law.

    * TRADEMARKS: Originally intended to protect consumers from marketplace confusion and deception, they have been expanded to the point where companies can claim to own common English words in all of their possible uses, and gain a pre-emptive right to grab them in any new namespace that is devised.

    * PATENTS: The USPTO has been granting patents to the most mind-numbingly obvious concepts, as long as they involve computers or the Internet. The true innovators of the Internet have mostly let their inventions be used freely without attempts at claiming IP rights to them; now a whole swarm of parasites has descended to try to profit from gaining proprietary rights to things that ought to be free for all, and the government has gone along with them.

    Is there any solution to all of this, other than lining up all IP lawyers against a wall and shooting them?
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    DNS resolvers have been doing this for years+
    by KarlAuerbach on Tuesday May 13 2003, @12:35PM (#11618)
    User #3243 Info | http://www.cavebear.com/
    DNS resolvers have been doing what this claim claims for a long, long time (since at least the mid 1980's.)

    If one looks in the Unix/Linux/BSD configuration file /etc/resolv.conf one will often see a list of possible suffixes. If you try to do something that uses a non-fully-qualified domain name (FQDN), for example you say "ping foo", then the resolver will try out the various suffixes to see if it can find a domain name lookup that works. To my eye, that mechanism does what the claim claims. (The patent claim makes no statement about whether the search is in parallal or serial.)

    (By-the-way, it is this search mechanism that new.net used.)
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Patent has a loophole...
    by ChrisPhoenix ({cphoenix} {at} {best.com}) on Thursday May 15 2003, @11:02PM (#11657)
    User #3769 Info | http://xenophilia.org/
    If I read the claims correctly, each one of them involves the user specifying not only a domain name, but a list of domains. If the user doesn't specify a list of domains, it's not covered by the patent. IANAL, but it looks to me like any web site that does not ask the user for a list of preferred domains (or maybe countries) is not covered by the patent at all. Looking up the domain name in all TLDs is the loophole.

    Chrischeck out Center for Responsible Nanotechnology http://CRNano.org
    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
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