Domain name registration law can be complicated. For example, is it legal for a registrar to use a URL as a marketing tool if a site isn’t built on a given domain?
Domain Name Registration Law: Domain Parking
Some domain registrars post a “Coming Soon” page on empty URLs or simply do nothing with the unused domains. Other registrars, however, profit off empty domains by serving up promotional material on URLs that don’t have websites. Some registrars even offer revenue sharing domain parking programs.
Domain Name Registration Law: Are Domains A Protected Property?
In the 2003 case Zurakov v. Register.com, a New York trial court ruled that domain names aren’t a property right. An appellate court reversed the decision.
The plaintiff in Zurakov objected to registrar.com’s placement of a “Coming Soon” page, filled with advertising for Register.com and its associates, on his URL.
So, Zurakov decided to file a civil complaint alleging that domain names constitute a property right and that Register.com neither acted in good faith nor used fair practices based on the registration agreement.
Register.com claimed otherwise, arguing that the term “control” was not used in the domain registration contract. On top of that, the defendant pointed to a disclaimer on the “Coming Soon” page.
Ultimately, the court ruled in favor of the defendant because the term “control” didn’t appear in the contract. Furthermore, the contract didn’t expressly define “register.” There was also a clause that made it possible for Register.com to modify, suspend, transfer, or cancel the agreement at any time.
On appeal, the higher court overturned the lower court’s ruling. The court of appeals held that good faith interpretation of the word “register,” when used concerning domains, held a meaning that exceeds the dictionary definition.