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SMALL BUSINESS AND STARTUPS INTERNET TECHNOLOGY RESOURCES
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By William Galkin, ESQ.

The Internet is virtual real estate. It is the infinite mall where the commercial visionaries foresee massive sales of goods and services taking place. The stakes are high and the players are scrambling to acquire valuable addresses.

An address in cyberspace is referred to as a "domain." A domain can be used both as the address for sending e-mail messages and as the location of a website. Domain names have principally two components: One is a generic suffix such as ".com" for commercial entities, ".gov" for government entities, or ".edu" for educational institutions. These suffixes might also identify foreign addresses such as ".uk" for United Kingdom and ".fr" for France.

The other component is the word preceding this suffix which specifi-cally identifies a particular company, product or person. This "second level" domain address is the hot real estate.

Addresses that are either easily remembered, or have names that a customer would expect, have great value because they facilitate contact with customers. When you put these components together, you might arrive at exclusive real estate such as "microsoft.com."

Domain Name Registration

With the entry of commercial interests on the Internet, domain name registrations have grown exponentially. Registrations in 1993 were 300 per month. In 1994 they grew to 1,300 per month. They are currently at 25,000 per month.

Names are assigned in North America on a first-come-first-served basis by the Internet Network Information Center (InterNIC), sponsored by the National Science Foundation and administered by Network Solutions, Inc. Network Solutions can be reached by telephone at 703-742-4777 or
at their website at http://rs.internic.net/. The cost to register and maintain a domain name is modest: $100 for registration and $50 annually to maintain the name.

Domain Name Disputes

The interaction between the simplicity and low cost of the domain name registration process and the deluge of registrations has resulted in numerous disputes as to rights to domain names. Following are some examples:


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