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Internet Registration

To register a domain name, you must select a registrar.

Registering your domain name protects it. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Registering your domain name protects it.

Internet Registration

Internet registration is a process that website owners go through to register their chosen domain names. Registration allows a person to own handfuls of domain names at one time without having to worry about someone else stealing them. Registration can also be beneficial should a lawsuit arise claiming trademark infringement. If a company registered a trademark before the Internet was commonplace in many homes and businesses and then tried to register a domain name that was already taken, they can claim trademark infringement. However, a court will look at the date the original owner registered the domain name, which may help in court proceedings.

How Internet Registration Works and Why It's Important

Anyone can complete Internet registration, whether they use the website for business or personal use. In fact, a person can register a domain name even if they don't plan on building the website for a few months.

Internet registration is similar to a copyright because it allows only one person to own a particular domain name. The U.S. Copyright Office does not offer copyrights for domain names, so there is no protection under copyright law for domain names. However, with so many domain endings such as .com, .net, .org and .edu, it is possible to copy a domain name but use a different end extension. For example, there can be abc.com and abc.net.

In order to register a domain name, a person must choose a registrar such as Go Daddy. The registrar charges a fee, which can be as little as $10 and up to $35 for one-year ownership of that domain name. The registrar uses the fee to register the domain name with The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. This accrediting agency helps protect registered domain names.

Without Internet registration, individuals can't get a .com or .org extension after their website name. While there are free places available that allow hosting of blogs or free websites, the domain name will include the name of the site as well as the name of the site providing the free service. Many business owners feel it looks unprofessional or would be too hard for customers to remember. So registering is the only way that a company or person can own an actual domain name.

As CNET Reviews points out, registering a domain name also offers a level of protection for domain owners. Should a registrar such as Go Daddy go out of business, registered domain names will be picked up by another registrar. Should a person use an unregistered service that goes out of business, the domain name and the site will disappear.

How to Choose a Registrar

While it's easy to sign up with a popular domain registrar, performing a little research and evaluation before purchasing a registration can ensure the registrar is reputable. ICANN accreditation is important and means that the registrar has completed an application process and has been approved.

According to PC Mag, paying attention to the registrar's contract is very important. Each contract may be different, and some contracts may give the registrar rights to revoke the domain name or give the registrar ownership of the domain name.

The ability to transfer a domain name to a different company is imperative when choosing a registrar. The ability to switch domain hosting companies due to unsatisfactory service of the current provider should be part of the registration contract. Buyers should also look at different price ranges and durations of ownership.

Laws Governing Internet Registration

The biggest problem domain owners seem to come across is people claiming trademark infringement when a domain name matches a company that trademarked their company name years ago. The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society describes a trademark as any sign or symbol that helps distinguish a business or service. Trademark infringement happens when another entity chooses a similar name or symbol, causing confusion among people as to whether or not the company or services are from the same business.

Because of former domain name disputes in the 1990s, there are now cybersquatting laws and a uniform dispute resolution policy, or UDRP. Cybersquatting is when a person purchases a domain name that matches a current trademarked product, such as Pepsi. The squatter then sits on the domain name, hoping the company will offer a large sum of money for the domain name.

When a domain dispute enters the court system, the UDRP follows certain steps and allows the court to make a fair judgment. The UDRP is a process that determines if a domain owner is using the domain name in bad faith. For a bad faith determination, the court must determine that the current domain registrant purchased the domain name in order to sell it to the trademarked company for a high price or purchased it to purposely cause confusion or harm to the trademarked company. If the court determines a domain owner registered the name in bad faith, it will award the case to the trademarked company.

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