Search | Contents | Special Features | News | Order | Glossary | Opinions | Acknowledgments | Contacts




Lawyers eat nails for breakfast. Rap is Etch-a-Sketch™ set to music. The nation is governed by the Law of Unintended Consequences. These beliefs are part of a canon of urban folklore that we spread as truth among our friends. Applicants for domain names have developed their own myths. Some have been repeated so often, they sound true. Here are our picks for the most oft-repeated myths, when NSI was the sole registrar for .COM, .NET and .ORG.

10. I can pick any name I want for my domain.

Sorry, but the selection of a domain name is limited by three factors:
  • Domain names are generally assigned under a top or second level domain that identifies a general category of activity or affiliation.
  • The total name in front of the dot cannot exceed 22 characters (although some registrars have begun accepting registrations for 63-character names in front of the dot) . The only acceptable characters are letters, numbers, and the dash. The dash must be embedded within the name, not at the beginning or the end.
  • Most important, every domain name must be unique. Names are generally registered on a first-come, first served basis.

9. I can reserve a domain name until I am ready to use it.

NSI's Domain Registration Policy requires that an applicant have operational name service from at least two Internet servers at the time the registration is submitted. However, NSI and many other registrars offer a "parking" for an additional fee or bundled with other hosting and registration services.

8. I can register as many domain names as I wish.

Some people have done so, but the Internet community frowns on the speculative registration of many domain names. The registries of many other countries have policies to prohibit or discourage this practice.

7. If I get the name first, I get to keep it forever.

Not necessarily. A domain name registrant may lose rights to a name by:

  • Failure to pay the registration or renewal fee within 30 days of receipt of the invoice.
  • Registering a domain name which is identical to a federal trademark; Under circumstances described as bad faith registrations, a trademark owner may initiatie a challenge to have domain registration rescinded or transferred. Both the U.S. Trademark Cyberpiracy Act and ICANN's Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy address this issue. See Trademarks R Us for a comparison between these two key policies.

6. Domain names can be registered as trademarks or service marks.

A domain name cannot be registered as a trademark if it is being used solely as an Internet address. The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office currently does not consider the advertising an applicant's own goods at an Internet site as a service that qualifies for service mark protection.

5. The Internet registry screens domain names for trademark infringement.

No, the applicant bears the burden of ensuring that no trademark infringement will occur by applicant's use of the name.

4. If I hold the domain registration, I automatically obtain trademark rights to the name.

Registering a domain name does not confer any trademark rights to that name, Also, any disputes over the rights to use a particular name must be settled between the contending parties using normal legal methods.

3. If I have a federal trademark, I automatically obtain registration rights to the domain.

Incorporation or operation under a name or registered mark does not automatically convey to you its use as a domain name. Trademarks are context-sensitive and geographically specific. While trademark law accommodates identical marks used in different classes of goods or services, on the Internet, every domain name must be unique worldwide. The Trademark Cyberpiracy Act establishes the circumstances under which a civil action may be initiated for a bad faith domain name registration.

2. Domain names outside the U.S. must indicate point of origin.

Every country has its own name code. However, companies and individuals outside the U.S. can register for the top level domains .COM, .NET., and .ORG offered by InterNIC.

1. It is easy to modify an existing domain name.

A modification may set in motion a number of other changes and concurrent expenses. The Internet provider must alter server information. Home page listings must be changed on web search sites and other links. Add to these disruptions the costs of revising the web page and reprinting new business cards, stationery, ads and other marketing collateral.

I need an Internet Service Provider to register my domain. I cannot do it myself.

Domains may be registered by a standard application template availble on-line. While some Internet service providers include domain registration in their initial set-up costs, others may charge an additional fee for completing this template. See Registrars for a complete list of registrars for .COM, .NET and .ORG domain names

The Domain Name Handbook: High Stakes and Strategies in Cyberspace
Copyright© 1998, 1999, 2000 Ellen Rony and Peter Rony. All Rights Reserved.