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Commentary: Domain name disputes persist

Despite progress in the area of domain name dispute resolution, struggles and conflicts over domain names and trademark law are still occurring.

By Audrey Apfel, Gartner Analyst

Despite recent progress in the area of domain name dispute resolution, moves to create additional registries, and the formation of new naming organizations, disputes and conflicts over domain names and trademark law are still occurring.

See news story:
Judge approves domain name penalty on eReferee
There is still no unassailable method to determine rightful "ownership" for any given domain name. The Internet's DNS (domain name system) maps no closer to legal trademark systems than it did before. To make matters worse, neither the DNS nor the trademark system map to the natural use of names. So, while the multipronged process of resolving the dispute followed all the rules, many observers may still claim that this result--and many future rulings--are ridiculous.

The likelihood of domain name disputes has not decreased in the past several years, and Gartner predicts it will get worse before it gets better--because of increased awareness of the value of domain names, new registries and, now, the greater understanding that the resolution process is not the endgame.

Putting high-level arbitration bodies and dispute resolution policies in place was an important and worthwhile activity for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to undertake. However, it remains clear that the decisions by these bodies ultimately are not legally binding and that traditional legal recourse can still be pursued. That does not disrupt ICANN's foundation, since ICANN never was the undisputed ultimate authority.

The federal judge's reversal of ICANN's earlier decision brings this issue more into focus. The bottom line is that the messy reality of domain names persists.

(For related commentary on domain name issues, see registration required.)

Entire contents, Copyright ? 2001 Gartner Group, Inc. All rights reserved. The information contained herein represents Gartner's initial commentary and analysis and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Positions taken are subject to change as more information becomes available and further analysis is undertaken. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof.