How do you name a Domain?

Posted By BrokenClaw on September 6, 2007

Domain names are sold through registrars, much in the same way that automobiles are sold through dealerships. In the past, domain registration was handled by an elite few, such as Network Solutions, but recently major inroads in the registration business have been made by upstart companies like GoDaddy.com and hundreds of others.

Once a person or company owns the rights to a domain name, they have the option to renew ownership on a year-to-year basis, abandon the name, or sell the name to the highest bidder. Just as there are used-car sellers, there are used-domain sellers. However, if you think of an original name for a new domain, it’s best to go through an accredited registrar to assure that you will get all the rights and benefits that ICANN guarantees.

In the early days of the Web, single-word generic domains, like flowers.com, lawyer.com, and vitamin.com became desirable business domains, and some people made a lot of money by registering generic domain names and selling them for tens of thousands of dollars. By the same token, companies which were late to establish a website often found that their company name, especially if it was a regular word like Target, was already registered by someone else and had to negotiate a purchase price.

Over time, the courts became more sympathetic to trademarks vs domain names, so that now companies are more likely to protect their trademarked business name by litigation.

It wasn’t long before people realized the value of a well-known name as a domain. Some people began to register hundreds of domain names, with no intention of ever establishing a website, but merely in the hopes that they could sell a few of them for huge profits, or just make a little money by selling advertising space. Such a practice is known as cyber-squatting or domain-squatting. In recent times, the names of real people have become desireable domain names, such as ParisHilton.com or LeBronJames.com, which are often registered by a third party as a fan site.

An infamous example of cyber-squatting happened in 2005, while the Vatican was choosing a successor to Pope John Paul II. One person registered hundreds of domains using every possible combination of names which the new pope might choose. When Joseph Alois Ratzinger chose the name Benedict XVI, the cyber-squatter already had about a dozen versions of that name registered to himself.

Today, there are virtually no single-word generic English-language .com domain names still available. They were all scooped up during the dot com craze of the late 1990s. As a result, people who want to start a website with a short, easily remembered web address, have to invent words or misspell common words, such as Flickr.com and Digg.com.

Most of those generic domains were never developed into actual websites. Some were purchased by large companies and used as a redirect, such as food.com to the FoodNetwork, or books.com to Barnes and Noble, but many are now just pages of links to advertisers. Domains like that, which have no actual content, are often called link farms.

Another new phenomenon is parents registering their children’s names as domains, or even choosing baby names based on the availability of a domain name!

ICANN recognized the need for real people domain names, so they established a new top-level domain of .name. According to ICANN, all .name domain names must be registered by, or for, a real person with that name. Nevertheless, this new TLD has thusfar proven to have dubious value, other than as another redirected domain name. For instance, tomjones.name is registered to a real person named Tom Jones, but it just sends you to his actual .com business website.

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