Sun Makes Claims on Domain Names By SUSAN STELLIN in
the New York Times reported today.
Opening a new debate over the process
to expand the pool of Internet names, Sun Microsystems has moved to prevent others
from registering dozens of names for which the company says it has trademark claims.
A law firm representing Sun sent letters last week to companies that register
Internet addresses demanding that they refuse applications for addresses ending in
the new .biz extension corresponding to over three dozen names like www.sun.biz.
But among the names on the list are generic terms like "enterprise" and "ultra"
and for that matter, "sun" that could be claimed by other businesses. Indeed, a main
reason for introducing new extensions, referred to as top-level domains, is to increase
the pool of names available to individuals and businesses and to relieve crowding
in the .com domain.
The introduction of .biz, and another domain, .info, has involved
complicated processes intended to protect the rights of intellectual property owners.
In the case of .biz, companies were given the opportunity to register intellectual
property claims for addresses that correspond to registered or common-law trademarks.
these claims do not give intellectual property owners the right to a particular address,
they do enable a business to challenge whoever obtains the address through the application
process, which involves a random selection procedure if there are multiple applications
for the same address.
Mark Partridge, a lawyer for the firm that sent the letter
on behalf of Sun, Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson, said Sun
had filed intellectual property claims for the names on the list, but did not feel
that that was adequate to protect their interests. "In representing our client, we
do what we can to assert their trademark rights," Mr. Partridge said.
may, however, also have trademark rights to some of the names on Sun's list. Enterprise
Rent-A-Car, for example, uses the domain name www.enterprise.com, and a trademark
search for "cobalt," another term on Sun's list, turns up several companies that
appear to have trademark interests.
Such overlapping interests in similar names
are at the heart of the debate over how to allocate additional Internet addresses.
least one registrar who received the letter from Sun's lawyers sees the tactic as
"Are they doing it to intimidate registrars?" said Larry Erlich,
president of DomainRegistry.com Inc., "Or do they really have a basis for thinking
they can protect these rights?"
The letter, which is signed by Mr. Partridge, states,
"On behalf of Sun we demand that you respect its trademark, trade name, common law
and domain name rights by refusing domain name registration to other parties of domain
names that are identical or similar to Sun's trademarks, trade name, common law and
Jeff Neuman, the director of policy and intellectual property for
NeuLevel Inc., the company that manages .biz, said that although NeuLevel had not
received a copy of this particular letter from Sun, the company had been in contact
about its concerns. "We have explained to them that we have an intellectual-property
claim service and that is the most fair and equitable way to deal with intellectual
property concerns," Mr. Neuman said. "It seems like they're trying to do an end-run
around our channel, almost as a scare tactic."