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SnapNames Awarded Domain Backordering Patent

Company awarded divisional patent covering business of expired domains and domain monitoring.

Expired domain name service SnapNames, a subsidiary of Oversee.net, has been awarded U.S. Patent number 7,472,160, covering a broad array of expired domain services. The patent is a divisional patent filing that continues several filings made by the company earlier this decade.

Among the areas of invention covered include:

Domain monitoring and acquisition – monitoring domain names for any changes to the domain name record, such as a change in owner, nameserver, or status. This could also be used to re-acquire an expired domain on behalf of the previous owner if he fails to renew it.

Domain Name Deletion and Registrability Timing – essentially grabbing expiring domains

Auction Tagger – compiling data about the demand of a domain, such as the number of backorder requests or domain availability searches at registrars. This information can be used to determine demand for the domain.

Direct Transfer – SnapNames has direct relationships with many registrars to automatically receive their inventory of expired domains instead of having to catch the domains as they expire. The patent states:

…n the second mechanism, partnerships or contractual agreements can be entered into with the various registrars. As part of these relationships, each registrar can give operators of the present invention a right of first refusal to register a name that becomes available for registration or transfer. For example, a registrar cannotify an interested entity that a registrant will not be renewing a registration and the name will become available. As one option, the name can be renewed before it is purged and transferred to the interested entity. This ensures that no third party will be able to register a recently-available name before an operator of the present invention has an opportunity to do so.

SnapNames’ patents seem to give the company a lot of power against competitors such as NameJet and Pool.com.

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  1. Patrick McDermott says

    “As one option, the name can be renewed before it is purged and transferred to the interested entity. This ensures that no third party will be able to register a recently-available name before an operator of the present invention has an opportunity to do so.”

    Sounds monopolistic to me.

  2. Andrew Allemann says

    @ Patrick – that’s the idea of a patent…to grant yourself a monopoly.

    In this case SnapNames has deals with Register.com and several others. NameJet has enom and netsol.

  3. Patrick McDermott says

    “that’s the idea of a patent…to grant yourself a monopoly.”

    Yes but it was done to encourage and reward innovation and allow a company to get back their usually very enormous investment in research.

    Do you think SnapNames really invented something new and spent a fortune doing so?

    I don’t.

    When I read what you wrote above there didn’t seem to be anything innovative.

    They were just smart to file a patent for what is really the obvious.

    “Domain monitoring and acquisition”

    Is that an innovation of SnapName’s?

    Seems a pretty obvious “invention” to me.

    How about: “Domain Name Deletion and Registrability Timing”

    Weren’t individuals, companies and tasters doing this long ago?

    Remember Yun Ye and his UltSearch?

    He should have filed a patent!

    See:
    “UltSearch and his 164 Million Dollar System”

    http://snurl.com/UltSearch
    —-
    “SnapNames has direct relationships with many registrars to automatically receive their inventory of expired domains”

    Won’t SnapNames be able to block NameJet’s
    deal with Enom and NetSol?

    SnapNames does not have to license use of their patent.

    Patent or no patent ICANN should not allow one company to be able to monopolize expired domains.

    But that’s just my opinion.

  4. Steve M says

    Good for them.

    First is first; and they deserve to enjoy the benefits of their innovations.

    Will be interesting to see (and Bob Parsons with his) if they assert them against their competitors…though unless they end up filing suit/s to do so; we may never know whether or not they quietly licensed it/them to others.

  5. M. Menius says

    From article under AUCTION TAGGER: “such as the number of backorder requests and domain availability searches at registrars”

    I’m wondering to what extent they can obtain domain availability searches. What registrars provide this information to Snapnames? I assume this is within the Oversee.net family only?

    Maybe I’m off in my interpretation of the comment. Does Snapnames purchase this information from registrars outside their circle?

  6. wannadevelop.com says

    Good… It would be either one of those three with it:

    SnapNames (Oversee.net)
    NameJet (Demand Media)
    Pool (Momentus)

    I’m glad SnapNames got it at the end… The rest of the auction houses are wacky.

    Best,
    Mike

  7. Andrew Allemann says

    @ M. Menius – they filed a patent on it, but that doesn’t mean they actually do it. Theoretically, they could buy the information or get it from partner registrars.

  8. Tan Tran says

    The wording on the patent seems very broad in terms of expiring domains process. Does this mean that snapnames literally has the power to wipe out namejet and pool with their leverage?

    Or does this mean that there will be a very nasty legal fight ahead of us among these companies.

    Tan

  9. Chris says

    Any patent can be granted (eg: 5443036 – cats chasing laster dots) – but that doesn’t make them valid.

    Without an inventive step, it’s unenforceable.

    Nothing that’s “obvious to one skilled in the art” (in this case – programming and domain registrations) is enforceable either.

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