Contact: David Graves
703-742-4884 [email protected]
(HERNDON, VA) July 28, 1995 -- A new policy that deals with
disputed Internet domain names until ownership issues are resolved
by the courts was announced today by Network Solutions, Inc., a
subsidiary of Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC).
The new policy recognizes that an Internet domain name may
conflict with an existing trademark or service mark, but that the
trademark or service mark holder may not have the exclusive right
to use that name on the Internet.
NSI serves as the InterNIC domain name registrar under a
cooperative agreement sponsored by the National Science
Domain names are assigned to organizations that want to be
accessible on the Internet. The Internet's growing popularity
hasled to an explosion of requests for domain names, with NSI
currently processing more than 600 per day.
Domain names will continue to be assigned on a first-come, first-
serve basis, with NSI checking to ensure that a requested domain
name has not already been given to another user. Like a telephone
book publisher, NSI presumes that an applicant for a domain name
has the legal right to use that name. Applicants now will be
asked to confirm this on their registration forms.
NSI has found that Internet users occasionally select domain names
which may be identical to the registered trademarks or service
marks of other organizations. While NSI cannot resolve such legal
disputes, the company is concerned that domain names not cause
confusion or interfere with the legal rights of third parties.
Although ownership of a trademark or service mark does not
automatically include rights to domain name ownership, the new
policy recognizes trademarks as quantifiable evidence relevant to
domain name disputes.
If the holder of a trademark provides evidence to NSI that a
domain name already assigned to an Internet user is identical to
that trademark, NSI will ask the Internet user to submit proof
that the user also has a trademark for that name (for example, the
trademarkk Acme may have been issued to many different entities
for different types of products or services). If the Internet
user cannot provide such proof of trademark, the holder of the
domain name will be allowed a reasonable period of time to
transition to a different domain name. Then the disputed name
will be placed in a hold status and not used by anyone until a
proper court resolves the dispute. This policy is intended to be
neutral as to the respective rights of the registrant and
trademark holder to the disputed domain name.
If the user does provide proof of its trademark, that user can
continue to use the name as long as the user agrees to protect NSI
from the costs of defending lawsuits brought against NSI by the
other trademark holder. Otherwise, the domain name will again go
NSI will also apply these procedures in dealing with foreign
trademark holders who have their trademarks certified by the U.S.
Patent and Trademark Office.
"We want to emphasize that Internet users don't need to have a
trademark to get a domain name", said NSI attorney Grant Clark.
"The problem is that NSI does'nt have the authority orexpertise
to adjudicate trademark disputes. Some have even suggested that
NSI should pre-screen domain names to check for possible
infringement. That would turn us into a mini-trademark office
with costs going through the roof and processing times in months
rather than days."
Clark said NSI will evaluate its policy on an ongoing basis, and
will remain sensitive to the opinions of the hundreds of thousands
of diverse Internet users.
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