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Corporate Trademarks and the Future of Domain Disputes

November 11, 2003 

What's in a name? Not much, according to Shakespeare. But today, the answer is "plenty" -- especially when you're talking about the intersection of domain names with trademarks. 

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers -- most commonly known as ICANN -- is a nonprofit corporation that was set up in California to administer several core Internet structures, including the first round of top-level domains (TLDs) like .com and .net. ICANN grants accreditation to registrars, which provide domain names to those seeking them. 

Almost as soon as the idea of Internet domain names got off the ground, a landgrab began as people realized that these domains could be worth serious money. At this point, an activity called cybersquatting arose. 

Cybersquatters deliberately register known name brands or company names as domain names -- like or -- with the intent of selling those domains to the name-brand owner at a later date. In a recent example, the government of New Zealand paid US$500,000 to U.S.-based Virtual Countries to obtain rights to the domain name "" 


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