SCL Thames Valley Group: Secure Domain Name Management

August 31, 2001

Ben Goodger reports on the Thames Valley Group meeting which took place on 13 June.

At a very well attended meeting at the offices of Morgan Cole in Reading, Nick Wood, President of Net Searchers presented what all agreed was a timely, detailed and informative introduction to the impending top-level domain names .biz and .info.

Nick’s talk commenced by outlining some of the issues involved in domain name management. The statistics he provided on domain name infringement make compelling reading – a survey of IP professionals showed that over 90% had experienced Internet infringement and 93% had suffered domain name infringement. The survey also showed that the UK ranked as the highest by incidence of domain name infringement – well above fellow European neighbours like Germany and the Netherlands.

Many of us have experienced the frustration and delays involved in completing a transaction on the Internet, and it seems this is echoed by the frustration involved in the acquisition of domain names. As Nick indicated, the complaints that are levelled range from poor speed of response from domain name registration companies, to (in extreme cases) transfer by registration companies of domain names from legitimate proprietors to infringers. Nick stressed that organisations must have an effective domain registration strategy which extends from determining which domains to register (eg home country, all gTLDs), to maintaining domains and their protection.

The talk then concentrated on what Nick termed the ‘Magnificent Seven’ of new TLDs – .biz .info .name .pro .coop .museum and .aero. Nick then set out in detail the timing and strategies for securing registration of the .biz and .info domains – which are expected to be oversubscribed.

The common thread discernible throughout Nick’s talk was that organisations should now treat and manage domains like the remainder of their intellectual property portfolios, rather than merely as another example of IT. Experience indicates that companies are beginning to do just that, and one feels that Nick would say that it’s about time.

The attendees were of one voice in their accolades for Nick’s presentation. Although the subject covered was procedurally complex (particularly the procedure for securing registration for the .biz and .info domains – with sun-rise periods, privileges for trade-mark owners and ‘rolling round robins’), the consensus was that the presentation gave the attendees a head-start on untangling the tangled Web of domains.

Ben Goodger is a Partner in the intellectual property law firm Willoughby & Partners and an Executive with its associated international intellectual property consultancy, Rouse & Co International.