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Aussie registrar trademarks “Whois”

Kevin Murphy, June 28, 2010, 16:41:49 (UTC), Domain Registrars

An Australian domain name registrar has secured a trademark on the word “Whois”.

Whois Pty Ltd, which runs whois.com.au, said it has been granted an Australian trademark on the word in the class of “business consulting and information services”.

It looks rather like the company is using the award as a way to promote its own trademark protection services.

I shudder to think what could happen if the firm decided to try to enforce the mark against other registrars.

Or, come to think of it, what would happen if it tried to secure “whois” in a new TLD sunrise period.

I’m not a lawyer, but I imagine that the fact that the word “Whois” has been in use for almost 30 years, pre-dating the creation of the DNS itself, might prove a useful defense.

RFC 812, published in March 1982, is the first use of the word I’m aware of.

It does not appear that there are currently any live US trademarks on the term.

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Comments (2)

  1. mrx says:

    Many US companies have trademarks that include generic words but they don’t have ( or claim ) exclusive rights.

    Also domain names are not mentioned in the registration. Good luck protecting it.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I agree. I doubt we’ll see any enforcement activity here.

      But it would probably give the company the right to register whois.whatever in new TLD sunrise periods, such as the recent .co sunrise, if the registry does not reserve it.

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