Domain Name System shows signs of stress from financial maneuverings: Cybersquatting, speculation hurt trademark owners and sow confusion online
by Patrick Thibodeau
April 16, 2007 -(Computerworld)- Cybersquatting — the practice of registering Internet domain names that poach well-known trademarks — is profitable for just about everybody involved. Money is made off of registration fees and advertising, and even the regulator of the Domain Name System gets a piece of the action.
But it’s not so lucrative for corporate officials like Lynn Goodendorf, who heads global privacy at InterContinental Hotels Group PLC.
The Windsor, England-based company owns seven hotel chains, including Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza, with more than 3,700 properties worldwide. Each day, Goodendorf gets about 100 e-mail alerts concerning potential trademark infringements from three different domain monitoring services.
Goodendorf said that in most of those cases, she doesn’t know the identities of the potentially infringing domain holders. Their registrations often are private, and when identifying information is available, it may be inaccurate. Subpoenas are sometimes needed to uncover the identities of individuals, she said.
Defensive measures, such as registering domain names that cybersquatters might target, can help, but only to a point. “We have tried to register common misspellings or to have letters transposed,” Goodendorf said. But it’s impossible to anticipate every name combination, she added, citing the cybersquatting site capitolholidayinn.com as an example.
As Goodendorf’s experiences illustrate, the Domain Name System is showing signs of being out of control. Speculators now use automated software systems to re-register large batches of expired domain names. They’re also helped by a loophole in the registration process that lets domains be tested for their potential profitability as pay-per-click advertising sites during a free five-day “tasting” period.
How Internet Domains Are Used49% are "parked" on other Web sites, such as pay-per-click ad portals.
31% have been developed as functional Web sites by their owners.
5% are used to manage affiliate marketing and advertising services.
5% are set up to redirect traffic to other Web sites.
10% are used for unspecified “other” purposes.
Read the whole story on Computerworld here.