ICANN or I CANN’t
Did you know that seven people hold the “keys” to the internet? It’s true! This group of people who secretly meet in different parts of the world hold key cards to “reboot” the internet the event of a natural or man-made disaster. Five of the seven are needed to group together and reboot the DNSSEC Internet Security system that is controlled by ICANN. Once rebooted, the internet can return back to a previous running state before the disaster.
ICANN is the world-wide company that controls all of World Wide Web domain names. They control which name points to which website. An ongoing issue since the company’s inception has been who gets what name and why? In many cases it has been a first come first serve type of domain name acquisition. You could image that everyone in the world with the last name Smith, would want to own: www.smith.com. ICANN, on a daily basis, must deal with domain disputes on who gets what name and why. Usually a business with the name “Smith” can prevail over an individual with the name “Smith” because the business has a financial interest at stake. The business would need to prove their name is really “Smith” and that they intend to use the name for business intentions – not to simply resell the name.
What if your name was stolen by “Domain Squatters” or a stolen by a business that is incorrectly using your name? If your name was stolen by a Domain Squatter, they usually want a hefty sum of money from you to buy it back. In almost all cases you can speak with your lawyer and gain access to the name after they receive an infringement letter. The Squatters would simply move on to the next name. If they don’t move on, they know you may be able to afford the ransom; in this case you would have to file a dispute with ICANN. If you are already in business and want to use your existing business name as your domain name, then you may have the upper hand in a dispute with someone who's already using the name online. Under trademark law, the first person to use a trademark in commerce is considered the owner. If you were already marketing and producing your product before the other business, you would have a good chance from stopping the other party from using that name. Again, this would be a dispute filed with ICANN.
Your options of filing a hefty and expensive suit for you name with ICANN or a law office may or may not be worth the trouble. If you believe that your name should belong to you because you offer a more precise product to that name, you may stand a good chance of owning what is rightfully yours. On the other hand, it just may be easier to try to find five of those seven people to reboot the internet and grab your name from them!