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    VeriSign Sued Over SiteFinder "Service" | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 10 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re:Troubled By Inconsistency...
    by jberryhill on Sunday September 21 2003, @09:59AM (#12270)
    User #3013 Info
    Where is it written? Numerous places, fnord. UDRP panels have repeatedly considered "lapsed name" cases:


    http://www.arbforum.com/domains/decisions/98441.ht m
    [arbforum.com]

    The Panel holds that a domain registrant who knows a domain name has been abandoned should be more confident, not less so, that there is no competing trademark claim relating to the domain name; a person in the position of Respondent should be more confident than a registrant who selects a previously unregistered name.

    There is an element of “finders keepers, losers weepers” in this decision. We believe that is as it should be



    http://www.arbforum.com/domains/decisions/96320.ht m
    [arbforum.com]

    The most that Complainant asserts is that Respondent has a pattern of registering domain names that once belonged to other parties and this is not an actionable offense under the UDRP.



    http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/200 2/d2002-0189.html
    [wipo.int]

    The Respondent is entitled to conduct a business of capturing generic trademark names which become available in the marketplace – often through failure to renew registration.


    You'll notice in that last case, not only did the Panel note that parties are "entitled" to register abandoned domain names, but they made a finding of reverse domain name hi-jacking against the complainant who was angry that they had abandoned it.

    It is interesting how some people think different rules should apply in cyberspace than the rules we have accepted for years in other contexts. Take a trademark registration, for example. If you don't renew it, it lapses, and other people can use it. The same is true for patent maintenance fees, rent on your business space or any other business asset that you fail to maintain properly. If you own or lease something, you have a responsibility to take care of it and to pay to renew it when payment is due. If you don't, you might lose it, and other people may take advantage of your failure to be responsible. That is the way the world works, and has always worked. Domain names do not introduce some new consideration into that principle.

    Maintaining your rights in a variety of legal contexts requires diligence on your part. That may sound unduly harsh, but it is no more harsh than the text of the "No Trespassing" signs you might post around your rental property. I guess it depends which side of that sign you are used to looking at. Don't pay your rent, and you'll be the one looking at the business end of that sign.

    What some people have realized is that the "dot-com" bust eventually made available the domain names from numerous online ventures which failed. The residual traffic from those domain names has value in excess of their registration cost. It is fundamentally no different from taking a lease in a shopping center after a store has gone belly-up, because the space still gets decent traffic.

    What Sitefinder does is to leverage NSI's position as the maintainer of the .com zone to compete in the traffic business without the cost or risk of actually registering the domain names. Two ancillary effects will be a reduction in the value of traffic, and a way of avoiding the ICANN fee assessment based on the number of domains registered in a TLD zone - NSI gets the value of having the domain names, while ICANN doesn't get a dime.

    Look at the big picture here. Verisign has noticed two things. First, there is a market in capturing abandoned domain names. Second, there is a market in search traffic for expired or otherwise inactive domain names. Their monopoly position in one area - the .com registry and .com zone - permits them to get a lock on both markets. So, if a domain name lapses, the WLS and Sitefinder are a one-two punch that ensures they will make a premium either way, and at the expense of others who do not have the advantage of running a registry. That only seems fair if one is of the mindset that there are "the right kind of people" in this world who somehow deserve to make money, while other entrepreneurs trying to make a living the same way are "pirates" and "profiteers". Interestingly, these abandoned domain name "pirates" permit anyone to advertise in the space that the former owner used to use exclusively for their own business. Now, you tell me what is a more "fair" use of generic words - giving someone a monopoly on the use of that word or opening it up to use on a non-discriminatory basis to anyone who wants to use it?

    [ Reply to This | Parent ]
    Re:Troubled By Inconsistency... by jberryhill
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