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Choosing the Right Domain Name:
a Marketing Perspective

all you need to know about domain names (and some you don't need to know, but is interesting anyway)


The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for a range of technical aspects of the internet, including the co-ordination of the assignment of domain names. The Domain Name System (DNS) allows for the registration of domain names within a number of registries known as 'top level domains' (TLDs). TLDs fall into two broad categories:

* Generic top-level domains (gTLDs) eg .com * Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs), such as .uk for the United Kingdom and .au for Australia.

who is a domain name's owner?

The InterNIC ( is a registered service mark of the U.S. Department of Commerce and provides all you need to know about domain names with US extensions (suffixes). There is also a 'whois' section where you can check the details of who owns what for US extensions. Note however, that registrants can now opt-out of having their full detail made public, and that similar facilities have limited availability for European names as the information is covered by various data protection regulations.

Each country has its own naming authority which runs the domain name system for that country. For example, in the USA the regulating agency is the Internic (, the UK's ccTLD registry is owned and operated by Nominet UK (, France's is AFNIC (, Germany's DENIC ( and Canada's CIRA ( The majority of these are not-for-profit companies or public sector organizations (eg universities). A full list of ccTLDs and their sponsoring organizations is available on the website of the Internet assigned numbers authority (IANA) - go to and follow the link on it's the homepage to 'database of Top Level Domains'.

To register a name you must apply to the relevant authority for 'permission' to use that name. It is rare, however, for a user to actually use the naming agencies directly, it being more likely that they will use intermediaries - 'registrars' (or 'registration agents') - to register their domain name. It is also the case that although you might own a domain name that agency retains the authority to withdraw it from use on the Internet - making it, effectively, useless. It is also worth noting that although you might have registered your domain name - and so own it - such is the system that if you don't renew its registration on an annual basis that registration expires and, eventually, the name is made available on the free market - often by auction. Although it is possible to pay these annual fees for years in advance, this can result in the renewal being forgotten some years down the line.

expired domain names

Expired names can be valuable - enter the drop catcher. As the original owner may be using the name for a business (website, email etc) its loss can be significant. The drop catcher uses software to check on names that come back onto the market (an estimated 20,000 a day) and registers any that they feel might be valuable. Having taken ownership of the name the drop catcher can:
* Offer to sell it to the previous owner * Auction it, perhaps to competitors of the original owner, or
* As the domain might have a high position on search engine rankings, use it to host a website loaded with ads, so earning significant income
Although the owner of a domain name that might be copyrighted or trademarked can seek to recover the 'dropped' name by appealing to an arbitration panel under ICANN's dispute-resolution policy (more of this in the legal aspects chapter), the practice of drop catching breaks no laws and so might be considered a legitimate business model.

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Copyright copyright 2009 Alan Charlesworth. All rights reserved.
International Standard Book Number: 978-1-4452-0538-0
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author.
Every effort has been made to make this book as complete and as accurate as possible, but no warranty or fitness is implied. The information provided is on an 'as is' basis. No responsibility is assumed by the author for any injury and/or damage to persons or property as a matter of products liability, negligence or otherwise, or from any use or operation of any methods, products, instructions or ideas contained in the material herein.
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