Domain Names as a form of Intellectual Property Asset

Author: Manu Mariyan Abraham, Student, KLE Society’s Law College, Bangalore, Karnataka State Law University, India



Domain names are the medium through which people access any resource on the Web. They are used to identify Web sites uniquely so that a user can easily explore Web pages around the world. Without them, we would need to use a long sequence of numbers to specify a Web site. The domain naming system has become a significant factor in emerging literacy practices. This article investigates a number of selected issues within one of the most controversial areas of Internet law that of domain name law, mainly from an intellectual property law perspective. It deals particularly with the problematic question of to what extent domain names should be classified as proprietary interests from a trademark law perspective. Classifying domain names as 'property' in terms of other traditional property paradigms is equally problematic. Framing the domain name with its multiple personalities, neatly into other definitional theories of property like the natural rights approach, the personality approach, the instrumental approach, the discrete asset approach, a panoptic approach, and other traditional property paradigms, is at best selective and most often forced. The ambiguity regarding the interplay between trademarks and domain names has been there for quite some time. It is still shrouded in confusion, even after a decade long theoretical and legislative evolution. A number of fundamental issues concerning the interplay between trademarks and domain names remain largely unresolved. These critical questions would include the basic laymen dubiety and the most complex queries relating to classification of domain names.

Keywords: Domain Name, Intellectual property, Propertisation.


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