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"Domain Name Spying"-The Latest Technique In Domain Name Sabotage

Aug 23, 2007
If you are a new business owner, you likely have spent a good deal of time trying to determine what domain name will be best for your operations. To this end, you may have taken the steps necessary to determine the availability of a particular name. In fact, finding that it is available may have made you very pleased. Not registering the name upon your first visit, you return a couple of days later to find that someone else has registered the name you wanted in the interim.

Of course, this all could have been a coincidence. Nonetheless, in this day and age, a more likely possibility may be that another entity actually tracked your search for a particular domain name and intentionally registered that name itself. Those entities that are now engaging in this insidious practice are said to be domain name spying. In fact, there now appear to be operations that solely engage in this practice.

The reality is that there is nothing new about operators interfering with a bona fide business's attempts to register a domain name. Cybersquatting involves registering a name confusingly similar to a trademark and then offering to sell that name to the trademark's actual owner for a greatly inflated price. There are other practices that interfere with legitimate attempts to register domain names, including tasting and kiting.

Domain name tasting is a process that takes advantage of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) policy that allows a five day grace period in which a domain name can be returned. A taster registers numerous names in order to generate advertising income from short term ownership to determine which names might be most profitable over the long haul. If the registrant finds that certain names don't meet his or her goals, it is simply returned.

Domain kiting actually takes the tasting concept a step further. Through kiting the ICANN grace period is abused. As with tasting, the registrant will return a name at the end of the ICANN five day grace period. The difference between kiting and tasting is that when the registrant returns the domain name, the registrant will then quickly reacquire the same name all over again. Essentially, a registrant engaging in kiting will retain ownership of the name in question over an extended period of time and will never pay for that ownership.

By understanding tasting and kiting, a reader can appreciate how domain name spying is an outgrowth of these practices. The difference rests in the fact that spying is intended to target those names that someone else or another business enterprise has a specific interest in owning. At this juncture, it is not specifically known how a domain name spy gathers information relating to another business checking on the availability of a name.

Some victims of domain name spies may have at least some recourse through trademark and cybersquatting laws. However, if a domain name spy does not violate these laws, a business actually may have no remedy at this juncture.

If you find that you have been victimized while checking the availability of a name, you probably will end up with two choices:

1. select another domain name
2. pay the spy a premium for the name you actually want

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of domain name spying is to purchase immediately any name that you may have an interest in. Remember, if you elect not to use a certain name, you have five days to return that domain name with no charge to you.
About the Author
Robert Masud, Esq. is the principal of Masud & Company LLC, a law firm for the world of business, finance and the internet.Find out how our lawyers can help you at http://www.masudco.com.
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