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September, 1996: Domain Name Issues

At our September meeting, Eric Robison, President of 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 Internet domain names was not particularly controversial. Initial holders of domain 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 egalitarian, first-come, first-served, process.

Almost overnight, however, the World Wide Web plunged the Internet into the world of big business, and created a whole new spotlight on Internet domain 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, Network Solutions Inc., the organization contracted by the National Science Foundation for maintaining domain registry services for the Internet (also 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 be usurped by a company presenting them with a federal trademark registration for the domain name. Given that a name can have only one domain registration (with a high-level domain such as .com, .edu, .org, etc.) yet can be owned by many businesses and trademarked by many organizations doing business in 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 Computing disagrees with NSI's policy which turns over use of the domain name to Hasbro, and took NSI to court. On June 26, 1996, Clue Computing was granted a preliminary injunction ordering NSI to leave their domain name active until all court actions are settled. Clue's position 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 January, 1997.

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February 15, 2009

February 2008: FRUUG Enters Quiescent Phase
After 27 years running, we're suspending operations.

Future Meetings:
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