Using Trade Mark Rights To Counter Domain Snatchers In France And Elsewhere

Author:Mr Mark Bell
Profession:Marks & Clerk

Commercial practices in the domain name business can lead to small web entities losing their domain names. Here, we consider some of the options that such entities may consider to recover the domain name at issue, and offer recommendations for avoiding such issues, in particular based on trade mark registrations.

In the economy of the 21st century, domain names can be vastly valuable, representing much of the goodwill and brand recognition that many businesses are built on. It is not readily apparent to all domain name registrants that they do not, in fact own the domain names they have registered, and this can easily lead to disaster.

Domain names registrations are recorded in one of the top level domain registry run by IANA (Internet Assigned Numbers Authority), a department of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) a US-based nonprofit organisation. The management of some registries such as country code top-level domains or is delegated to local trustees such as AFNIC (Association Française pour le Nommage Internet en Coopération) in France or Nominet in the UK. Domain names are usually registered with the domain name registry on behalf of a registrant by a registrar corporation. Registrar corporations register a domain name at a registrant's request for a periodic fee and if this fee is not paid in any given period, the registrar will allow the registration to expire. Typically, registrars will allow the registrant a grace period in which the registration can be recovered for a number of days after the payment was due, followed by a further redemption period during which recovery is still possible with a penalty fee. Finally, there is a short period during which the original registrant have definitively forfeited the domain name, but the name remains unavailable to third parties, until at last the domain name is finally deleted from the registry and available for registration by the first comer.

Regularly domain names are abandoned that may be attractive to third parties, and at the moment such names become available, there may be a race to grab the name. Indeed, the residual value in expired domain names is the basis of a business in its own right known as "domain tasting", domains are registered for a the five-day trial period during which registration fees can be refunded, on the basis that advertising revenue from visitors looking for the old site will generate sufficient income to justify the...

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