Some Marketing Execs Have Explaining to Do

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-06-14 Print this article Print

While ICANN has a time stamp process that€™s supposed to give priority, it€™s unclear exactly how that€™s going to work out.

But for those fairly generic domain applicants for things like .home, it would seem that the only solution that will ultimately decide who gets what will be a trip to the courts, and that will be an interesting challenge indeed. For one thing, it€™ll be hard to prove which of the various domain trolls has a better claim than another. Adding to the complexity is that these companies are from all over the world, so it€™s not like a trip to the federal courts will solve the problem.

One company, Top Level Domain Holdings, is based in London, and its stated purpose is to invest in domain names so it can sell them at a profit. On the other hand, some well-known ISPs and Internet companies, such as, have applied for a variety of TLDs, which one can assume will be used to offer hosting to customers.

It would be unfair of me to cast all of these companies as domain trolls, because in many cases they are simply companies who plan to control these fairly generic names and sell them for what the market will bear. It€™s a simple business transaction.

But then there are the companies that are applying for another company€™s trademark as a domain name, such as .homedepot, where it€™s obvious that the plan is to hold the Home Depot TLD hostage.

There is a process in which trademark holders can challenge an assignment of their trademark as a domain name to someone who doesn€™t have rights to the trademark. But, again, it€™s not clear how long this could take or how much it is likely to cost.

But it could be worse. Most of the major companies with significant value in their trademarks applied for their own TLDs, and they don€™t have anyone else trying to do the same. In a situation like that, there will be no contest.

But for a few, the contest may go on for what seems like forever. You have to wonder how the Travel Channel let the TLD .travelchannel go to a likely domain troll, just as Food Network did. Clearly, a marketing officer somewhere is going to have a lot of explaining to do. But in the long run, it€™s going to be the lawyers who spend the rest of their careers making the biggest profit of all.

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Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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