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


     
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    When Semantics Attack | Log in/Create an Account | Top | 19 comments | Search Discussion
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    Re: When Semantics Attack
    by Anonymous on Monday October 22 2001, @05:05PM (#3084)
    I'm not really sure what your point is. Although your question was, I think, rhetorical-- what you assume is an obvious answer is hardly obvious. If hrtide.com is offering info about Hampton Roads, there is no possibility for consumer confusion and little possiblity that the Tide mark is being diluted.

    If, however, hrtide.com was selling some kind of soap product (think Tom's of Maine) with the brand "Hampton Roads Tide," then you bet your sweet bippy they'd be sued and they'd probably lose.

    And since the makers of Tide cannot know, ahead of time, what the people who register names like hrtide.com will do with such sites, it is not necessarily idiotic to try to monopolize as many DNS names permuting or incorporating your marks as you possibly can.

    If your point was simply that trademark and the DNS mix like oil and water-- you're probably right. They certainly don't mesh well.

    But if your point is that the "flattening" of the DNS by companies with trademarks is necessarily irrational, you're wrong. There's probably a game theoretical argument against flattening the name space since vigorous defense of trademarks on the web drives up the transaction costs of that defense by artifically driving up demand for domain names-- but it's a tenuous argument at best.

    Instead of criticizing companies for "abusing" the DNS by flattening it in apparent ignorance of how it "should" be used, would it not perhaps be fairer to criticize the architects of the DNS for their disregard and/or apparent ignorance of intellectual property rights when they devised the system?

    Rhetorical question-- the point is, neither criticism is altogether fair.

    As much as I admire Mr. Tobias's input to this site and the great site he's put together describing some of the more technical aspects of the DNS, I think his advice for CNN and other companies doesn't adequately account for how IP laws influence corporate decisions regarding the DNS.

    In fact, the most rational action may be to hoard the most obvious permutations of your trademarks, vigorously prosecute infringement and dilution with respect to any names you can't hoard, but use only one site with extensive sub-domaining so that you train your users to expect all CNN-authorized info to fall within the CNN 2LD.

    Eventually, the number of sites that have the ability to weaken your trademarks will decrease because consumer expectation will increasingly map to the reality of the web. Fewer and fewer people will be confused by imposter sites and the less consumer confusion, the stronger the mark. In the meantime, nobody will go to something like sportsillustratedswimsuits.com and mistakenly assume that Sports Illustrated has entered the hard core business to offset a disappointing advertising market...





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