Verisign “Domain Exchange” patent application says service would be useful for typosquatters

Application filed shortly after pulling ICANN request admits a domain exchange service could be a boon for typosquatters.

In April 2010 Verisign asked ICANN to allow it to introduce a “Domain Name Exchange” service.

The service would have allowed registrars to exchange one domain name for another. The use case VeriSign proffered was that a web host that offers short term packages could swap out a domain if a customer canceled their account.

The new service request also noted that some people might view this as a way to re-introduce domain tasting. But Verisign argued it had enough restrictions in place to prevent this from happening.

Verisign withdrew its domain exchange service request the following month.

Seven months later, in December 2010, Verisign filed a patent application (pdf) with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for “Systems and Methods for Domain Name Exchange”. That application was just published last week.

The application notes that the service could be used by a web hosting company as described in Verisign’s request to ICANN. But a the following paragraph shows that the domain tasting angle was more than a fleeting thought:

Another example where such a method would be desirable is when a domain registrant’s interest is not in selling products or services per se under a brand associated with the domain name, but rather reserving domain names that Internet users might enter accidently, by exploiting typographical errors entered in web site addresses. For example, suppose a registrant wanted to commandeer web traffic intended to go to “,” but was not sure which variant of “example” would be most effective. The registrant might register, “example,” “exampple,” and “exampel” to see which was most effective, and place targeted advertising on the most effective variant. Under the traditional domain registration schemes described above, the registrant would lose the value of the domain names that did not produce many visits. In anticipation of this loss leader, the registrant may try small batches of reservations. If the registrant could exchange the unfruitful domain names for others, however, then the registrant might reserve many more initially, knowing that an unfruitful domain name could be exchanged for a domain name consistent with the registrant’s next project. Therefore, a method of exchanging an existing domain name in favor of a new domain name is needed to encourage more registrations from this type of registrant.

In other words, Domain Tasting 2.0.


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