At our September meeting,
Clue Computing, Inc.,
and Phil DuBois, attorney for
Clue Computing, addressed some of the legal issues surrounding
ownership of Internet domain names.
In the years before the advent of the World Wide Web, the topic of
domain names was not particularly controversial. Initial holders of
names were universities and governmental agencies, with a few large
corporations joining the game. Through the 1980's and early-1990's,
increasing numbers of businesses established an Internet presence through
descriptive domain names. Registration of domain names was an
first-come, first-served, process.
Almost overnight, however, the World Wide Web plunged the Internet into
world of big business, and created a whole new spotlight on Internet
name policies. Having an identity on the Web corresponding to the name of
your company or product suddenly became a critical issue. Bowing to the
forces of businesses who suddenly became interested in the Internet,
Solutions Inc., the organization contracted by the National Science
Foundation for maintaining domain registry services for the Internet
known as the InterNIC), changed the playing field. In July 1995, NSI
announced a new policy whereby one company's long-held domain name could
usurped by a company presenting them with a federal trademark
for the domain name. Given that a name can have only one domain
(with a high-level domain such as .com, .edu, .org, etc.) yet can be
by many businesses and trademarked by many organizations doing business
non-competing areas, this policy is quite contentious.
In early-1996, Longmont's Clue Computing was plunged into a legal battle
with giant Hasbro, Inc., and trademark holder for the board game "Clue,"
over ownership of the domain name clue.com. Clue Computing disagrees with
NSI's policy which turns over use of the clue.com domain name to Hasbro,
took NSI to court. On June 26, 1996, Clue Computing was granted a
preliminary injunction ordering NSI to leave their domain name active
all court actions are settled.
on the legal issues is available on their web site.
We learned in December that the
Internet International Ad-Hoc Committee
has been chartered to resolve the
domain name conflict issue,
with a schedule that includes presenting an initial recommendation in