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No, you DON'T own .travel!

  • To: stld-rfp-travel@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: No, you DON'T own [anything].travel!
  • From: "Daniel R. Tobias" <dan@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 18 Apr 2004 00:28:09 -0400
  • User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US; rv:1.7b) Gecko/20040328

Several commenters in the .TRAVEL (and .XXX) sections make claims of owning names in those TLDs already, and ask (or demand) that their "ownership" rights be respected by the prospective registry, with (sometimes) threats of lawsuits if they are not. However, since .TRAVEL and .XXX have, up until now, not existed in the namespace of the Internet, nobody owns them. Just because some proprietary systems exist that make use of namespaces that contain such strings, accessible by users with the right plugin or who point their DNS resolution at root servers other than the standard ones for the Internet, doesn't mean that they exist as part of the standard Internet DNS and need be respected in any manner by anybody else, any more than any other proprietary namespace, like AOL keywords. If you owned the AOL keyword "tourism.travel", this wouldn't give you any inherent right to the corresponding domain name when it was created.

If you actually own a trademark to a particular name, it might give you rights (depending on complex factors like the field of use for yourself and any other registrant you're fighting against), but something like "tourism" sounds too generic to be likely to be trademarkable, and the USPTO has stated that top level domains themselves have no source-identifying significance (so a trademark to "tourism.travel" or "tourism.com" would be equivalent to a trademark on "tourism", and would be invalid if the word is generic for its field of use). (But I'm not a lawyer, so don't take any of this as legal advice.)

If somebody could gain ownership of not-yet-existent domain names by "registering" them at some unofficial, self-appointed registry, then people could cybersquat on every domain in every TLD that will ever be created. I can put whatever names I want in a "HOSTS" file in Windows, and they'll work for me; does that give me intellectual property rights to them if they're ever added as real domains?

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