Game Company Beats Domain Squatter Today; Should Prepare For More Tomorrow

from the squatter's-paradise dept

When ICANN was in the process of reviewing the application for the new .xxx top-level domain, we were always wary about the idea. We reported that this was nothing but an extortion racket on businesses to force them to buy an expensive and unnecessary TLD for their trademark, for little else but to avoid being associated with porn. That prediction was dead on, as we saw universities rushed to buy up the .xxx versions of their .edu domains.

Then ICANN approved a new plan to allow even more unneeded and unwanted TLDs. Once the bidding process was in motion, we highlighted the sheer number of TLDs that were proposed. While many of these were directly related to certain companies, many were generic TLDs that any website owner might conceivably use. However, just as there are big problems with the .xxx TLD, we will see similar situations here. Companies will be forced to buy up domains in the fear that someone will use their trademarks for potentially nefarious purposes.

All this concern is based not on speculation but on reality, as one game developer Riot Games, the maker of the popular League of Legends game, has learned. Riot Games had recently won a dispute over a a domain squatter that was banking on people mistyping the League of Legends domain. This one was a fairly simple use of one of the current TLDs on the market: .co. The owner of the .co domain had set up the domain to show porn for anyone who mistakenly typed the wrong TLD. This activity is pretty much as old as the internet itself.

While Riot Games was able to win this one, it seems that we're going to be hearing a lot more stories of these kinds of fights once ICANN officially approves the new TLDs and they begin rolling out. The idea that companies are now going to have to keep checking and buying up their domains on all of these variations seems particularly ridiculous. Not only will it be time consuming and a waste of money, but it's unclear that there will be any value at all to these new domains.

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  1. icon
    Nick Coghlan (profile), 23 Aug 2012 @ 6:41am

    The era of typing full domain names manually is over

    I've noticed lately that I almost never type out a full domain name manually. Instead, I will either:
    1. Start typing the domain, then choose the actual site from Firefox's internal history search
    2. Follow a link
    3. Do a Google search for the company name

    The only case where I even consider typing out the full URL is if I got it from an offline source, and even there I'm more likely to use a search for the core name rather than typing out the whole thing.

    Phones are also getting to the point where they can read a URL through the camera, without the assistance of a QR code.

    We also know that there are already *many* people that don't even use DNS for sites they visit regularly: http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/how_google_failed_internet_meme.php

    On top of that, we can add the fact that for many "web applications" the tool we actually use to access it is a dedicated smartphone utility - the namespace is the name in the relevant app store, not the DNS host of the site itself.

    All ICANN is doing is hastening the conversion of DNS from a scheme that is a visible part of the main UI of the internet, to an abstraction layer over IP addresses that is used as a hint by search engines and a stable record for consumption by other software (such as other web services, client applications, browser history recording and automatic URL recognition tools)

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