Registrars Lawsuits and Judicial Decisions
The "Name Spinner" Patents
posted by michael on Thursday September 25 2003, @08:01PM

jberryhill writes "A question that sometimes comes up as the DNS-related patent landscape evolves is why don't we see more assertions of these patents. It is sort of like asking why countries build nuclear weapons, but don't use them very often.

Having covered Verisign's multi-TLD domain look-up patent, the pending WLS applications, and the Sitefinder patent, today's tale is about an interesting little patent owned by an outspoken WLS opponent."




United States Patent No. 6,519,589, issued earlier this year to Raredomains.com, a part of Michael Mann's Buydomains.com empire. The aptly-titled "System and method for generating domain names and for facilitating registration and transfer of the same" is directed to the feature of many registrar's systems by which they generate a list of alternative domain names that a prospective registrant may wish to register. For example, if you go to networksolutions.com and attempt to register "networksolutions.com", then they will tell you the domain name is not available, but will helpfully suggest such variations as "intranetssolutions.com".

This recent patent is the second in a chain of related applications from which an earlier patent had issued in 2001. The base application was filed Sep. 22, 1999 and issued as U.S. Pat. No. 6,298,341, on Oct. 2, 2001. What this adds up to is that Mr. Mann is receiving a substantial licensing revenue stream, or he is an unusually patient person. Given his recent vocal opposition to the WLS, perhaps he may be building steam. Only time will tell.

A typical claim from these patents reads as follows:
3. A method for generating a domain name and for facilitating registration of the same, comprising the steps of:

storing a plurality of adjunct terms for use in generating an available domain name;

permitting a user to access a server facility via an electronic data network;

receiving a root term from said user via said electronic data network;

retrieving from storage an adjunct term;

concatenating said adjunct term with said root term and a top level domain identifier to generate a candidate domain name;

querying a data source to determine if said candidate domain name is available for registration; notifying said user of said candidate domain name when said candidate domain name is available for registration; and

permitting said user to engage in an online electronic commerce transaction related to use of said candidate domain name when said candidate domain name is available for registration.

Sound familiar?

Now, there are more claims than just this one, as the object of the game is to capture the essential features of the invention from as many angles as is reasonable.

What makes this patent particularly charming is a citation that appears in the list of references considered by the USPTO during consideration of the application:

Oppenheimer, Judith, "What Will NSI Do Next . . . ?,"

Indeed.

VeriSign's SiteFinder & ICANN Contracts--A Second Opinion

 
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