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The Worldwide Domain Battle

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the translation-engines-reloaded dept.

The Internet 183

pledibus writes "The New York Times's Sunday magazine contains an interesting article, Get Out of My Namespace, about the spate of conflicts over website names. The author synthesizes ideas from computer technology, law, history, onomastics, cultural anthropology, and probably a few other areas, and does a pretty nice job of it."

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FP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628197)

I name this space my ass

Reg Free Link (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628200)

Reg Free link []

Re:Reg Free Link (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628592)

If you don't want to deal with NYT, the author, James Gleick, also has the article [] on his website.

Can we... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628201)

Can't we somehow blame this on Verisign?

Re:Can we... (1)

Tore S B (711705) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628238)

Yes, we'll start a special task force to Blame Verisign. Let's call it... Pegasus! No, taken... Gemini! Drat... International Business Machines!

Re:Can we... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628440)

Were you hoping that would come out funny?

Re:Can we... (1)

Tore S B (711705) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628464)

After a few cups of coffee, I realize the futility in that hope, yes. Sorry.

third post! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628202)

fuck you all, especially the gnaa (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628210)

how about .post ?

http://YOU-FAIL.IT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628280)

How about that, you stupid twat?

Re:http://YOU-FAIL.IT (2, Funny)

spiny (87740) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628877)

it's still available: ?d omain2[hostname]=you-fail&domain[tld]=it&check =1

linked []


Online Law (4, Funny)

neoform (551705) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628211)

What we need is a set of laws that govern the internet. When someone is punished they are disallowed access to the net for a given amount of time.

*reads what i just wrote, laughes*

No. (5, Insightful)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628233)

Impossible to police, impossible to control, and totally against everything the Net was designed to be. Sorry, but no country will govern the net and if one should try to, they will have a huge problem on their hands. What is needed is not more regulation, but more insightful systems design. That's all.

Read the fucking parent! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628444)

He already pointed out the laughability of such regulation, fuckwit!!!

Re:No. (2, Interesting)

man_ls (248470) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628499)

It shouldn't be a country governing the net -- it should have its own governing body, made up of its own aristocracy.

"Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant"

The Internet should be governed and run by technical people with demonstrated skill -- Programmers from both sides of the open-source divide, administrators and help-desk technicians, etc.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

big tex (15917) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628741)

Yeah, we got that.
It's called ICANN.

You can make up your own mind how well it's working.

Re:Online Law (1)

roryt (734173) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628255)

That's impossible to enforce.

Re:Online Law (1)

jbplou (732414) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628299)

It would be simple, whenever one person violates the law, we would turn off all the root name servers and backbone routers for a period of one week. That will effectively stop them from accessing the net.

Re:Online Law (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628336)

/kick ban neoform

Re:Online Law (1, Funny)

Stu Catz (728228) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628404)

thats not funny, the teacher in my grade 12 class banned me from the net for a week....

Link (1, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628212)

Courtesy of Google News [] , no subscription required.

Re:Link (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628690)

stupid karma whore

And I thought... (-1)

IchBinDasWalross (720916) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628216)

...they were talking about TLDs. I was looking to register an Eritrean domain, but I couldn't find anyone who'd do an .er domain, so I could be

To me... (5, Interesting)

dolo666 (195584) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628220)

If you get a website, it's yours. What's the conflict? Squatters are just playing on names, misspelling. So you type in wrong or something... and you see a stupid ad for domains. Big deal. Just type it in right next time. I find that too much resource is going towards fighting the natural expansion of the net; look at mikeroesoft... My thoughts are that the whole system does need real scrutiny, but even after all that, exploits to any system always come through. Pynchon always said you couldn't do away with anything more than %50 of waste because waste is always there... it's inherrent in everything. Make more law, you're still fighting a ghost.

Re:To me... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628359)

They're also playing on phase lags: if you are a small company and you blink, a squatter snatches up your domain name. If you're a big company, Verisign and their ilk will sit on the namespace for a while to give you extra chances to register it. So the rules about keeping a domain registered are unevenly applied. Also, they're poorly handled in terms of fraudulent registrants, such as spammers who provide fake names and squatters who lie about what business they're part of when they register the namespace.

So yes, you can blame Verisign for some of it.

Nice article (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628225)

Nothing really new for the slashdot crowd. Incidentally, the author of the article is Gleick who is known for two great books: Chaos, and Richard Feynman's biography.

Biggest Domain Name Injustice (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628227)

The NY Times did not mention the battle over!!!!

Suckers. (4, Interesting)

joeszilagyi (635484) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628239)

I'd like to see someone try and cease and desist MY extremely common place domain name: []

That said, some of the cases, especially the Bill Wyman one, are laughable.

Re:Suckers. (2, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628793)

I have a numbered name incorporation. Not only is it unique inside Canada, but the name is inherently part of Canadian namespace. If I did get a domain name for it, I can't see how anyone else could trump my rights to it.

Of course, the best protection is that who the hell would want (Even me, sheesh! :)

Blame Verislime! (0, Troll)

tcgwebs (737923) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628250) Let's blame VeriSlime. Everyone sign the petition! :P

The biggest example of abuse of this (4, Interesting)

Operating Thetan (754308) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628252)

Is by easyGroup, notorious for suing any business with "easy" in their title. There's a page about it here []

Are TLD's part of it? (2, Interesting)

Tore S B (711705) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628261)

If a person is named John, would be eligible for a lawsuit from the company Johncom? What about Would they (well, if Worldcom had existed, anyway,) be eligible? May be a dumb question, but it struck my mind, anyway.

Re:Are TLD's part of it? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628842)

Though domain naming has become more relaxed, in the case of, the COMMERCIAL usage of john should override for .com addresses.

different regulation, not looser (4, Interesting)

astivers (764081) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628270)

The article on increasing congestion in namespace ends by suggesting that ``perhaps the law just needs to relax...[a] system based on property rights in names may be the wrong approach.'' While it may be true that we want the current implementation of property rights in names to be relaxed, it is also generally true that as common resources --- highways, clean air, fisheries --- become congested we need stronger rules for allocating those resources, not weaker ones. The congestion of the namespace, together with modern commercialism, means that the market use of language increasingly intersects with non-market use. This means that the context of speech which, as Gleick notes, had served to differentiate one private meaning of a word from another commercial one is breaking down. (In order to stay in character, I must say...) On the one hand, this supports Gleick's conclusion: the control of commercial language increasingly infringes on non-market use. This point is expressed particularly well by Rosemary Coombe in ``The cultural life of intellectual property.'' The book argues that the creation of meaning and value in a name is more a function of consumer use of the product than of corporate construction and therefore control of a name should not be exclusive to the originating company. However the real picture is not so clear. In the case of ``famous'' marks, tightly controlled language is just what buyers of a name want. The value of the good that they buy, ``Nike'' for example, is at least as much caught up in the name as in the product. While some extra-corporate uses of the name are positive (and certainly companies and courts need to be more discerning in their attempts to suppress these) consumers of the goods, as much as the company, have an interest in blocking negative associations with the mark. If I have invested several hundred dollars in Nike paraphernalia, and by association invested that money in my image as a Nike-wearing-guy, the last thing I want is to have to reinvest in a new label because the Nike name has been devalued. At the same time, it is true that property rights have been used to suppress relevant consumer information. Even more troubling, this right to control meaning has been extended in some states to generic names --- witness the (failed) product disparagement lawsuit brought against Oprah for her derogatory comments about beef --- surely a sign that the laws on names need loosening, not tightening. But again, there are complications. In addition to increasingly rival uses of language, we have accelerating change in technology and trade. This means that both in owned (trademarks) and unowned (descriptive) language, the attributes of the goods underlying a particular name might be shifting more rapidly than consumers' understanding of the name --- consider the debate on whether ``food'' includes genetically modified products. The potential distance between use of a name and consumer understanding of the name suggest the need for greater scrutiny of use, not less. Saying that control of a name should not be exclusive to a particular corporate entity or entities is not the same thing as saying that control of language should be loosened overall. We are coming to a point in crisis in market language analogous to the crisis in natural resource commons. Gleick's article illustrates this, but points toward a need for new solutions, not necessarily just loosening the old ones.

Re:different regulation, not looser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628365)

Oh for fucks sake Preview your comments!

And what the hell is up with /., I have to reload the page all the time to make it render right?!?

Re:different regulation, not looser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628429)

And learning basic HTML, like at least the <br> for paragraph break, might actually make the comment readable instead of sending everyone past it.

Re:different regulation, not looser (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628503)

It's not his fault. If you look at the HTML source, it clearly shows his intent was to have paragraphs. It even looks like he typed it in a separate editor and pasted it in. Don't forget Slashdot's preferences automatically default to "HTML Formatted". It would be better if it defaulted to "Plain Old Text".

Another NYT astroturf. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628273)

Geez, if the NYT submits so many article summaries, you'd think they'd at least start using a real name and email address, not some fake random joe sounding name.

Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (5, Interesting)

amigoro (761348) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628275)

Well this war has been fought over before. Remember Adidas and the three stripes?

The only difference now is the Arena. In a time where branding is everything, the value of one's name, and its association with one's web presence is tremendous.

However, the current domain name registration system is haphazard to say the least. On the one hand you get the country specific top level domains, which applies to all the countries except US (Thought the .US does exist). There's .com and .org to differentiate between commercial and non-commercial organisations, but nobody takes that distinction seriously. .net (not the MS platfrom) is yet another completely different story.

I think the first task of the day is to get this anarchical hierarchy into some order. We must get US to use it's TLD, and get rid of .com, .org, .net etc completely.

Then, there should be clear guidelines as to who gets .com.?? and .net.?? etc. PEople have made these disticntions for tax purpose, why not do it for domain name purposes?

Then there should be a new second level domain, such as .ind.?? for individuals to register their names. It should follow the first name surname pattern. Of course is going to be a problem, and a resolution scheme must be found.

The first-come first-server free for all messy domain registration system does not bode well for making the internet any less complicated.

Moderate this comment
Positive: Offtopic [] Flamebait [] Troll [] Redundant []
Negative: Insightful [] Interesting [] Informative [] Funny []

Can I see the results? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628340)

After I vote once, I can't see the result. Can you fix you dumb script?

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628341)

Why are you and myownkidney [] spamming Slashdot with your lame website? [] What is your motive? And which one of you is:
Rezel, Rohana

6625246492 Fax -- 6625162125

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628350)

I think it is the same person....

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628678)

They're trying to score some cash via Googles Adwords ads on their lame site.

Their lame humor makes for a very weak site. "The Onion" they are not.

Flamebait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628366)

Offtopic 4 12%
Flamebait 15 46%
Troll 1 3%
Redundant 1 3%
Insightful 4 12%
Interesting 3 9%
Informative 2 6%
Funny 2 6%
Total 32
Score (+|-) -10

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (2, Informative)

mrfrostee (30198) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628393)

The first-come first-server free for all messy domain registration system does not bode well for making the internet any less complicated.

Maybe the time has come to replace it with something better. The current Domain Name Registration, DNS, and PKI architecture all rely on some trusted central authority. It is possible to design a new distributed mechanism for these services that does not require trust, and is therefore less likely to be abused:

See especially "Why use YURLS?":

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (4, Interesting)

betelgeuse-4 (745816) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628418)

It would be great if all the blogs and personal homepages had and used only one TLD (.ind). Then Google could have an option to block all these websites. That would increase the relevancy of their search results.

Now, if only we could convince the spammers to use .spam ...

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (2, Insightful)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628576)

That would be silly. A lot of the interesting technical info I have found is on individuals' home pages, not on the pages of corporations (many of whom are only interested in putting up annoying content-free flash animations).

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (1)

betelgeuse-4 (745816) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628594)

I didn't say Google should block personal websites entirely, just it would be nice if there was an option to do so. However, it's unlikely the .ind TLD will be adopted anyway.

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628845)

How is that going to be enforced? An individual can own a company. (With a sole proprietorship, the individual is the company.) In Ontario, a registered business name costs $100, which still could be owned by an individual. A Canadian incorporation cost $200.

If a privately held corporation (that I happen to own) wants to run a blog and homepage with cute cat pictures on it in TLD .com, what are you going to do about it?

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (2, Interesting)

ingenuus (628810) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628437)

I don't see how segmenting names geographically is going to help much. At the very least, there would still be these battles within each country. At some level, a central registry is needed.

Organizations or companies might even try to register their name in every country they *might* do business in, for PR and to make it easier (and less confusing) for potential customers to find them.

Suing over similar names seems (mostly) ridiculous to me. Maybe it would be better to "force" domain names to be shared (using the next domain level to distinguish) in the case of a legitimate conflict?

Though I don't like using "force" to share, this solution is already voluntarily in effect in some cases... e.g. when you go to a site and at the top they say "if you are looking for X, go here."

The other downside with sharing domains is that businesses with shorter unique names (not requiring re-routing) might have an advantage.

Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (2, Interesting)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628542)

On the contrary, first-come-first-served is the simplest way of allocating domains and much preferable to any carefully regulated system in which the most expensive lawyer wins. Other systems you propose, such as domains only for companies or only for individuals, can be built on top of FCFS.

Multinational Companies (2, Insightful)

Detritus (11846) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628616)

The problem is that many corporations and brands are multinational. A corporation may be legally registered and operating in dozens of countries, not to mention many more countries where their products are sold. The company's headquarters may be in the United States, but the majority of its employees and facilities may be overseas.

Re:Multinational Companies (1)

amigoro (761348) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628634)

A corporation may be legally registered and operating in dozens of countries

Exactly my point.

If one can be legally registered in dozens of countries, they should get a domain name on a per country basis. The only exception I see are the UN and similar organisations.

Moderate this comment
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Re:Brand Name War.... Taken to the Net (1)

dizzyduck (659517) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628898)

Then there should be a new second level domain, such as .ind.?? for individuals to register their names. It should follow the first name surname pattern. Of course is going to be a problem, and a resolution scheme must be found.

There's already a second level domain [] . It's not in a firstname.lastname format and it is on a first come first served basis, but it's a start. I don't really see a way that a resolution scheme could be found for name collisions without adding extra unique identifiers to the domain. Which sort of negates the benefit of having these types of domains anyway.

My Chinese girlfriend's purple labia (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628278)


Bleh (2, Informative)

Spazzz (577014) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628284)

I wish the lameness would stop. The WIPO has proven themselves to be about as ineffective and "unbiased" as ICANN. Does anybody remember if there was a trademark war between the makers of the VAX [] and the VAX [] ? Apple Records and Apple Computers have been able to coexist peacefully since the late 70s, as well.

I can see the WIPO and lawyers going after domain squatters who are attempting to profit from another company or individual's fame or reputation, but the disputes nowadays are insane, and take away from the value of the Internet as a whole.

OTOH, maybe I should sue the people that own [] Since I have probably been around much longer than this site, plus, people might go to this site, thinking that it is my own, and get the wrong impression that I'm a Christian!

-J (Trying to call his lawyer on a Sunday)

Re:Bleh (3, Informative)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628385)

Apple Records and Apple Computers have been able to coexist peacefully since the late 70s, as well.
Apart from two lawsuits [] .

Re:Bleh (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628882)

By the same logic, North and South Korea have been coexisting peacefully since the 1950's. :^)

The Apple border is also heavily armed. I wonder what will happen when Apple Records sells music via a computer?

Whatever the rules are... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628296)

...they should be unambiguous and consistent. It shouldn't be based on who has the biggest lawyers.

Re:Whatever the rules are... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628395)

And you live in Happy-Land, in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!?

Re:Whatever the rules are... (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628889)

D.C. Comics sued to make them change the name of Lollipop Lane. It was too close to their trademark of Lois Lane.

Re:Whatever the rules are... (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628649)

So, you're suggesting that Company A should hire less competent, cheaper lwayers simply because the person or comany they are going against in a dispute can't afford better, more expensive lawyers? Lawyers can't trade based on their skills and abilities?

Re:Whatever the rules are... (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628676)

Lawyers try very hard to be unambiguous and consistent. They produce pages and pages of prose full of technical terms trying to narrow down exactly who owns what.

(I'm talking about lawyers working in good faith, which is most of them. It's the creeps that make the news, but most lawyers are just trying to be clear.)

Unfortunately, the additional verbiage causes problems of its own. First, the technical terms aren't always accessible until you've had background. You do the same thing as a computer programmer; just because you know the difference between an "icon" and an "operating system" without thinking doesn't mean the difference is readily apparent to somebody who has unfamiliar with computers.

Second, the additional verbiage makes inconsitencies more likely. As a programmer you know perfectly well that adding code to a program makes it buggier. Same thing: the more lawyers try to clarify your rights, the more likely it is that they're accidentally creating loopholes.

(Again, remember that I'm talking about the good ones, not the assholes. Actually, the assholes create a whole new difficulty, because everybody has to assume everybody else is an asshole and fight tooth and nail for their rights, so you end up acting like an asshole yourself. But that's a different point; I'm going for the point that it's hard even without the assholes.)

Unlike software, people are difficult. Who really knows if Apple Computer should be prevented from going into music by Apple Records? The number of "corner cases" is extraordinary. I wish it were always possible to make rules that were simple, unambiguous, consistent, and _fair_ (something you left out, but which is crucial). But often it simply isn't.

I once found that hard to take. In computers, there's always a solution. It's not always practical (you can't really rewrite the operating system because you found a bug in it), but it's at least possible, or you can show why it's impossible. In managing people there's an ugly gray area that's always bigger than you want it to be. Lawyers attack the problem with words. I wish I had a better solution.

Is the internet too big for humanity? (4, Insightful)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628298)

Perhaps the problem is that the internet is too massively large for the human mind, social systems, and trademark laws to handle. Everyone thinks they are coming up with a unique, non-overlapping, name from everyone else. But once the system becomes too larger, very few names are unique. In reality, all the "good" names are taken and even all the easy variants of the good names are taken. Its a case of too many people and too few names.

The case of confusing/typoed near-names ( is also a human scalability problem. If one only interacted within a tribe or small group (say 100 individuals), a typo or near-name would still be unambiguous.

People (and their social/legal systems) weren't designed to connect directly to millions or billions of others.

Re:Is the internet too big for humanity? (2, Insightful)

Dark Lord Seth (584963) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628376)

People (and their social/legal systems) weren't designed to connect directly to millions or billions of others.

Nope. But back in the 50s and 60s the US social system wasn't designed for a non-segregated soceity. Trust me, humanity will adept over time. That, or we'll nuke ourselves into oblivion before we adept. So far so good though...

Re:Is the internet too big for humanity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628561)

"adapt" is the word you're looking for. "adept" is an adjetive.

Re:Is the internet too big for humanity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628492)

That's the beauty of the Internet:

Global Reach,
Local Liability (in every possible jurisdiction).

Odd vision (2, Funny)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628309)

Does the international community really want to take on disputes for things like ? No wonder they begged Bush for more participation in Iraq decisions.

Mikr..owe (3, Funny)

Hello this is Linus (757336) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628314)

Re:Mikr..owe (1)

bill_doors (757981) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628386)

Hello Linus... nice to see you around :)
and what is the big trouble around this guy Mike? can not anybody use their own name as domain?
The lawyers world is a really mess :S

Re:Mikr..owe (1)

zedmelon (583487) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628394)

Hey, that's a clear and blatant infringement on MY name,!

I'll see you in court, buddy!

Shinola Awards (5, Funny)

YetAnotherGeekGuy (715152) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628325)

The desperation of company founders and marketing departments to find new names sometimes brings ludicrous results. To single out some of the worst, a California naming company has created the Shinola Awards; recent "winners" -- futuristic, forgettable, pseudo-Latinate, barely pronounceable -- include ACHIEVA, ALTRIA and CRUEX.

WOW, now I have something more to live for than the Darwin Awards. The name is very apt, and its about time.

Re:Shinola Awards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628400)

recent "winners" -- futuristic, forgettable, pseudo-Latinate, barely pronounceable -- include ACHIEVA, ALTRIA and CRUEX.

Too bad this started so late, 'cause Pentium, Celeron, Athlon, and Duron need to be nominees (just to name a few). (Goring everyone's ox is just an added bonus).

Q: What do you get when you put a stalk of celery in a particle accellerator?
A: Celeron

Having read the entire article, (4, Informative)

way2trivial (601132) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628326)

I'm amazed that they missed

this guy fought a hell of a battle with Nissan motors, and I think he should have outright won, and the final decision was- he may not use his domain for commercial purposes.. what kind of stupid ruling was/is that? if it's his, (and it should be) then he should be able to use it for ANYTHING that does not have to do with NISSAN or cars.

(which he never did....)

Uzi Nissan vs. Nissan Motors (1)

chiph (523845) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628414)

Uzi used to be my Internet provider, back when I had ISDN service. Great guy, sorry that the courts screwed him over.

It *is* his family name, and he should have a right to use it, especially if he got to it first.

Chip H.

Re:Having read the entire article, (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628431)

Right -- notice how a big company needs to be engaged in commerce to hold the trademark, and the ICCAN / WIPO Nazis then turn around and use any commercial activity by a little guy as evidence of bad faith.

Use hierarchical names (4, Interesting)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628338)

When DNS was defined, this problem was catered for by having a hierarchical name system.
The same name could exist under different toplevel labels.
In fact, once trademarked names started to be registered, the registries should have created obligatory subdomains corresponding to the categories of trademarks, so that a trademark for computers could not collide with a trademark for household appliances.

Now, the exact opposite is happening. Everyone is registering their name under all possible toplevel labels, thus further polluting the system.

Probably a new hierarchy should be created where everyone can register only names in appropriate categories. I.e. the classical trademark registering process has to be completed first.

Re:Use hierarchical names (2, Interesting)

ticklemeozmo (595926) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628502)

Probably a new hierarchy should be created While I would like to agree with you, I fear that having such an effect will be catastrophic to the community.

The majority of people think that .com is the only domain extention. This came about during the ".com revolution".

For such a change to be made to be "organized", it would cause its own problems. Even if we did follow rules for internationalization. What qualifies as a world organization? Do you need to be the only organization with that name? Do you need to have offices in more than 1 country? Who decides? etc.

So, we abondon the .com/.org./.net and tell everyone they now have to use .(country-code). In the case of DOMINO, it might be a little clearer. Dominos is the pizza company, Domino is the sugar company, and DominoServer is the IBM product (losing spaces).

I may be a fan of for names (e.g. DodgeViper, ChevyLumina) rather than However, I am MORE in favor of and, if we want to stick with heirarchy. 1 Company, 1 domain. Unlimited subdomains.

All-in-all, this is just a duct-tape and glue solution to a BIGGER problem of trademarking and copywriting which need to be handled first.

Re:Use hierarchical names (1)

stubear (130454) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628564)

It's COPYRIGHT, not copywrite. Copyrights are rights granted to creators of intellectual property, specifically the expression of an idea in a fixed medium. Copywiting is a career field devoted to writing text for ads and other public material sich as press releases.

Re:Use hierarchical names (5, Interesting)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628684)

>I may be a fan of for names (e.g. DodgeViper, ChevyLumina) rather than However, I am MORE in favor of and, if we want to stick with heirarchy.

One bad decision in the design of DNS was that the toplevel name appears to the right.
It should have been instead of the other way around.
The UK computer scientists tried to set it up that way, but they lost.
This is a bit strange, because most hierarchical directory systems already operated left-to-right instead of right-to-left.

The consequence is that there is a break between the hostname and directory path in a URL, where the direction changes. Most people don't understand that.
So instead of having or as alternatives, they want to register the composite name because otherwise nobody would be able to find it.

Re:Use hierarchical names (1)

Mister Proper (567223) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628859)

The majority of people think that .com is the only domain extention. This came about during the ".com revolution".
Give me a break. Everyone outside the US is at least also familiar with their country's TLD.

Re:Use hierarchical names (1)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628835)

Close, but you're just pushing back the problem from a naming of sites to a naming of categories.

By all means have the (US) trademark registry as a subdomain as you suggest, then allow one or more top level domains (i.e. administrations) to incorporate it as they see fit. In the UK we have our own trademark registry where "Budweiser", for example, can refer to beer as well as to a similar beverage made from fermented rice.

I'd expect more from Gleick (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628349)

"A few of the words and phrases trademarked in the most recent batch this month were DRIVE HARDER, RELAXED LUXURY, MYASSISTANT, A COFFEE SHOP IN YOUR OFFICE, FLEXIBLE THINKER (a Canadian motivational speaker), RINGWRAITH (the Tolkien moviemakers still going strong) and DOING HIS TIME (for ''transportation of families of prison inmates''). Are any of these so special, creative or individual that ownership rights ought to be assigned?"

Trademarks are not assigned to promote the creation of interesting individual names. Otherwise, they would fall under the "promote the useful arts and sciences" clause of the constitution, and thus would have limited duration.

Trademarks exist forever, as long as they are actively used -- because their enforcement puts MORE information at the public's finger tips, not LESS. The purpose of trademarks is not to defend some "property" of the long-dead guy who named Colt firearms, but to defend YOUR right to know who made the products you buy, right here, today.

As such, they can be as ugly or common place as you want. The point is to stop other people from confusingly marketing a similar product under a similar mark. Trademarks are actually a consumer-protection issue, not an "intellectual property" issue. It is the confusion of lumping very different aspects of law into one vague name that leads to mistakes such as this.

I don't think I am nit-picking here. This is a serious mistake. The misuse of trademarks for the purpose of censorship or harassment would be much less common if the general public had a sense that trademarks "belonged" to THE PUBLIC, as a truth-in-labeling concept.

Generic Drug Names (4, Interesting)

bnavarro (172692) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628380)

This is indeed a timely article. I have been thinking about registering a generic drug name -- not the brand name -- for a personal web site, because the name sounds interesting, it is an online pseudonym that I use, and I have a personal history with the drug in question. Would/could a pharmaceutical company come after me for using the generic name? What about someone else, like the FDA, saying that it was in the "public interest" that the generic name be used exclusively in connection with information about the actual drug?

I hate to break it to you (1)

MoreDruid (584251) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628795)

but you're too late... [] is already taken.

Good article, but has a couple of myths in it (4, Informative)

eggboard (315140) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628382)

Gleick knows his technology, but he's spreading a couple of myths in the middle of a really interesting discussion on namespace and trademarks.

"...a computer that happens to be situated in Reston, Va. -- a computer known as the primary root server or, less affectionately, the Black Box..."

Paul Vixie posted this message [] on the IP list a few months ago to dispute that. There are many root nameservers, not just Network Solutions'.

"The mapping of a domain name to a particular address can be changed in a matter of moments; the necessary instructions propagate automatically across the network..."

Actually, the root nameservers communicate their mappings to each other for start of authority (SOA), but they don't propagate address changes.

I've had to explain this to many, many fellow reporters. DNS is a retrieve and cache on demand system. Browser says: what's Resolver climbs the chain of authority and back down, retrieves the address information, provides it to the browser, and caches it locally for a period of time (or not, depending on the OS).

The next query after the cache expires retrieves fresh information. Updates to DNS records don't propagate: they only take affect on the next query after no cached information is found.

Re:Good article, but has a couple of myths in it (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628523)

There are many root servers, but there is only one primary database of domain data. It is in Reston. All root servers get their information from Reston.

Domains are mapped to nameservers in their domain record, not in DNS queries. This data is in the root servers (for the TLD, not for '.'), and changes do, in fact, propagate out to the other root servers when they ask the master for updates.

DNS data itself can be seen to propagate out, when you include the concept of TTL (time-to-live) for the data. You don't always query authoritative nameservers for an address -- it would overload them (and where would you stop? you'd have to go all the way up to the root servers to be sure you were getting good info). You ask your local cacheing nameserver, run by your ISP, who checks its cache to see if it already "knows" the answer, and whether the answer is "older" than its TTL. If it is older, it usually queries the authoritative nameserver for the domain. If it is younger, it just returns the same value as before.

So the data doesn't propagate per se, but the awareness of it does, and not instantly. Sometimes not even quickly.

And yes, your browser caches the response too, but that has nothing to do with DNS or TTL.

Names aren't absolute (3, Interesting)

alext (29323) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628441)

If "computer science has the useful concept of namespaces", it of course also has the concept of name administrations to go with them.

Faced with the problem of different interpretations of "" and "", formally there is no realistic way of managing them under a single administration to the satisfaction of all.

The article is confused about what it is proposing, suggesting both to "loosen the cords" and to enforce "truthfulness and authenticity". This is nonsense.

What the Internet needs is a way of setting up trust relationships between users and naming administrations (and between naming administrations themselves). This could be bolted onto the current system by having a wide variety of top-level names that denote the administrations, just as with the country names. Administrations would then be free to borrow name information from each other so the name domains would not really be exclusive.

There were a couple of annoying companies that attempted to introduce a system like this by modifying the browser's name lookup mechanism (Real Names was one). These were annoying because they attempted to hide what was going on (appropriating the regular DNS system) but the underlying principle is sound, and indeed inevitable.

(Useful semi-formal papers on naming are hard to come by - I've been using this 1993 one [] by Rob van der Linden, which despite being surprisingly prescient must have been superseded by something more web-age by now).

Must be a slow news day (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628495)

Domain names are a nonissue at this point. The number of registered domains peaked two years ago. The number of domain name disputes [] is down. The "domain broker" business is essentially dead.

Article didn't mention it... (1)

Lord Haha (753617) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628510)

Don't forget all the Mike Rowe's Softs of the world, and other closely sounding names and how larger corporations can force their way into getting the domain name without even going through any Internet Registery/Courts....

Re:Article didn't mention it... (2)

bill_doors (757981) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628753)

Well... maybe they can try to buy some other people... but not me... _not_ me! :P


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628511)

Why is it seem like you guys purposely put registration required links?

Its not at all difficult to go onto Google News and get a Partners link to NYTimes, yet you seem like you want to make it harder for us readers (i.e. those of us who may be considering a subscription to Slashdot) to read the articles. It also seems hypocritical because you all claim to support privacy but you keep on giving us these registration required links when you could easily have given a link without the registration page.

Creativity (2, Interesting)

freejung (624389) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628520)

It seems to me that all this hoopla is a good thing, in a sense, as it will encourage greater creativity. There are lots of combinations of letters that we don't use, and lots of interesting word combinations not commonly used in commerce. The only possible outcome of all this is to expand our available namespace to include lots of new words and word combinations, so as to accomodate everyone. This expands the language and the general memespace, and leads to positive development of our culture.

So it may seem silly now, but I think in the long run it will just make our language more interesting.

Strong signatures would be nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#8628521)

If web pages were signed with something like PGP, then it would be trivial to associate a list of keys with pages by way of your bookmarks. If you screw up and go to the wrong page (misspelling, wrong TLD, whatever), or it gets hijacked, the signatures won't match, and your browser could throw an error on the screen.

This can work without the web of trust, since it's one way of saying "this is probably the same guy who signed the page the last time you were here", and that's good enough for most people.

It would also let people move personal web pages around without any confusion about who they really are. You could say "I'm going to be at some new URL soon", and when your signature appeared on pages at that location, your friends would know it was really you.

Someone, please steal this idea and do something with it. I'm tired of being at the mercy of things like DNS and domain registrations that can be taken for a ride by evil types far too easily. Put the signing in the hands of the people who create the content.

Trademark Troubles for Open Source Projects (4, Informative)

wehe (135130) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628546)

Besides domain name conflicts, there are many trademark conflicts, too. I have collected a list of trademark cases related to Open Source projects [] . Currently there are 18 cases known. But there are more, which are not made known public.

Is it really a problem? (4, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628595)

I'd argue that companies with famous brands should get the least amount of protection possible. This is simply because;

1) if their brand is so valuable, why don't they pay the schmoe who registered their domain what it's worth?

2) BigCorp can blast its URL over many communications, like commercials, logoes, branding, etc.; obviously, having an easy-to-remember URL is more important for those less fortunate.

3) Do you even type in a company's name and append .com anymore? You either look on their products for their URL, or you google for it. We all learnt to do this the hard way (

4) If a website is actually confusing consumers, or commiting libel; sue em. Don't need no UDRP. If it's too cosrly to sue some-one operating in alaska, well, then your brand isn't famous enough, get yourself a country (ccTLD) domain name.

The whole ICANN/UDRP/WIPO trademark circus is a big joke. Especially when they took away the possibility to register domain names (for free..) in the nice hierarchical state (sub)domains.

Domain Names (2, Interesting)

VoidEngineer (633446) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628677)

So Jeff Burgar, accused cybersquatter, speaks for many Internet users when he views Icann and WIPO as defenders of the corporate trademark establishment. ''It's a business,'' he said. ''The arbitration process is geared to take domain names from one party and give them to another'' -- from the have-nots, he means, to the haves. ''The arbitrators are almost all of them attorneys who have a vested interest in looking out for big business or celebrities.''

After having actually read the entire 6 pages of the article, I would point out that most all of this article is about .COM names and companies litigating to gain all of the major variations of some trademark. Now, if a company exists named "Example", it seems fair that they should get the domain name EXAMPLE.COM. What doesn't necessarily follow and seem fair is that they should also get EXAMPLE.ORG or EXAMPLE.INFO.

Conversely, individuals who cybersquat names of corporations in the .COM domain isn't fair either. Individuals should stay out of the .COM domain as owners in all circumstances, because an individual is not a corporations... (Even sole-proporietership doesn't count in my opinion, although it is a point which could be argued, I suppose).

Anyhow... moral of the story? Better enforcement of the top level domains (com, org, net, info, edu) and expansion thereof. We are definately going to need more.

In fact, I predict that, eventually, society will need to open up every top level domain for usage to meet the demand for names.

Local Names (3, Interesting)

LionKimbro (200000) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628698)

In the Wiki world, we've been thinking about ideas such as having Local Names. []

In Wiki, you can name a page just by putting "[[ ]]" marks around it, and it links to the page. Recent advances such as the NearLink [] have made it so that you can refer to pages on "nearby" wiki, even without naming the wiki. If the word you are linking to isn't defined on the immediate wiki, but it is defined on a near wiki, then the word links to it's definition on that nearby wiki.

But we're carrying the concept even further. With Local Names, we want to be able to link not just to wiki pages, but any sort of page. For example, you could bind [[Slashdot]] to .

But wait! There's more! We want to store these bindings in a "Local Names Server" [] , which you could then tell people about, or store in your person preferences server, or a FOAF file. [] Then, when you post to a website, or slashdot, or whatever, and refer to something that it doesn't know about, it can look it up in your personal local names server. Of course, Slashdot would have to know what local name servers are, and would have to know to look at them.

At the end of the day, what you effectively have, is a world without URL's- just lots of local names. You'd have a mechanism for "picking up" and "giving away" local names. So, for example, if someone refers to something by a name, and you like it, you can "pick it up" into your own local names server. There are all sorts of possibilities here.

Apple & Apple peacefully co-exist? (1)

fname (199759) | more than 9 years ago | (#8628883)

From page 6 of the article--in other words, further than 90% of the posters will read :) .
''Consider the word apple,'' Pulgram wrote. To the horticulturalist or expert grocer, it hardly occurs: instead we have ''Pippins, Codlins, Reinettes, Baldwins, McIntosh Reds, Biffins, Rome Beauties.'' Now, of course, an Apple is a computer. It's also a record label and holding company for the Beatles. Apple Computer and Apple Corps managed to co-exist for a quarter-century, but now Apple Computer has a music store, and the Beatles' representatives have filed suit.
Hmmm, nice article, but this is at least the 3rd lawsuit between the 2 Apples. I don't know why Apple Records keeps winning, although they seem to have a better case now than ever before. I'm also curious as to why Apple Records has never sued Bad Apple Records or Big Apple Records. Doesn't seem like they're doing a very good job of protecting their trademarks! And c'mon, has anyone ever confused the 2 Apples? Coming from a big Apple Computer fan, but an even bigger Beatles fan.
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