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Domain name tactics...

For as long as we can remember there have been arguments about the commercial validity alternative top level domains (TLDs) , and all we can usefully do is point out that there are no easy or cheap ways of avoiding the fact that .com is synonymous with the global Internet. If your focus is the UK, then .co.uk works pretty well - thanks in large part to the credibility provided by the vast and endlessly promoted bbc.co.uk website.

But if you want a domain like hotelbooking.com, and you have a business called Hotel Booking Limited, and a trademark Hotel Booking, tough, it's still going to cost you probably >£100k in hassle, fees and you will still have to cut a deal with the present owner of the domain "lease".

Some historical perspective will help: there have always been arguments about the relative merits and "worth" of all top level domains (TLDs). The choice of GTLDs (global top level domains) have been argued about from the start and reluctantly 7 new gTLDs (aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro) appeared in 2000 as a stop-gap while a bigger solution was sought. But how many of these have you ever heard of - or seen in use? Maybe .info? It seems .biz is almost exclusively used "defensively" ie if you already have a .com you don't want confused by an interloper or competitor. Which is nice business for registrars, but no value-add for anyone else..

In the beginning...

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The internet began in the 80s as a US defence and educational "experiment" funded by the US National Science Foundation that has never stopped growing. The US does not own the Internet - no one does - but the main infrastructure issues such as the Global Top Level Domain and DNS system are owned and operate by US corporations under US law.

In January 1985 .com was originally intend to designate "commercial" use - remember the Internet was a military and academic network by origin; the US was supposed to use the CCtld .us - which although this has some unfortunate connotations, .us failed mostly because the individuals charged with managing .us failed to rise to the challenge to work cooperatively within a fast growing industry.

Anyone who owned a "brand name" but was too late to get [brandname].com or [brandname].CCTLD immediately started spitting nails and threatening to sue, especially if they also had a registered trademark. However, there are some 26 categories for trademarks, and although the trademark lark had long since been the playground of lawyers on the make, there was no simple answer, and most trademarks lawyers remaining astonishingly indifferent to the internet until 2000. Probably because a traditional trademark would cost £500-£50000 in fees - and domain names were on offer sub £50.

In the beginning, domain names in com/net/org were allocated on a "first come first served basis" and operated by a loose form of approvals process under the aegis of the original Internic (Internet Network Information Center) and its contractor doing the work - Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI aka NetSol) -that attempted to associate the names being requested with some sort of justification in the effort to prevent organisations and individuals warehousing as many as they could grab. Domains for edu, mil, gov had clear qualification requirements and operate outside commercial markets.

Given the vagueness of the law on all aspects of domain names in any one country, never mind internationally, it is a general condition that all applicants for domains must agree to "defend, indemnify and hold harmless" the registrar and all conceivable related entities and individuals for any damage, including lawyers' fees arising out of or related to the use or registration of the Domain Name.

All this time the US government had continued to be the neutral minder of the best interests of the global Internet, and The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) took on the overall responsibility in 1998 and a handful of "root registrars" (mostly but not exclusively in the US) formed what amounts to a licensed cartel to issue domains in com/net with the less popular org. And ever since, it has been widely assumed (with justification) that there are licenses to print money - and so many others who missed out have been scheming to devise ways to get into the game. The recent announcement of an auction for a further round of GTLDs is regarded by the pioneers as a poorly conceived and unnecessary concession to vested interests when more pressing issues - such as the imminent exhaustion of IP v4 address space, is a MUCH more urgent issue.

Before Nominet was set up in 1996 with a hands-off "first-come" policy, from 1986 UK domain registrations were operated by the "naming committee" - a gang of the early day ISP pioneers under the auspices of the UK Education and Research Networking Association (UKERNA aka JANET) - some with hands-on "flaming" attitude, others with academic temerity. Again, some justification for name requests was required to prevent warehousing. The existence of a limited company in the form of the name being sought was pretty much the simplest form of proof of seriousness

Foreign registrations

Foreign domain names in Country Code domains like .fr and .de frequently come with the additional complications of justification of a local presence in those markets. USP can register any domain anywhere using a range of direct and proxy services, but brace yourselves for complex conditions and substantial costs. USP has been in this business for 20 years, and we are happy to assist guide you through the maze(s).

.tv (Tuvalu) is an exception in that it is actually the designated ISO code CCtld for Tuvalu, that has become adopted as the "obvious" global generic, and it is sold and used alongside the other generic domains. 

However, the larger and more fragmented and shambolic the gTLD scene becomes, especially with the introduction a raft of new gTLD domain names, the more the value of the old originals will accrue.