Domain name registrar firms up patents related to whois privacy.
GoDaddy was today awarded U.S. patent 7,627,633 (pdf), a divisional patent for its previously awarded whois proxy patent 7,130,878. This patent for “Proxy email method and system” relates to the email masking portion of its whois privacy service.
In the system, a proxy email address is displayed in whois. Email sent to this proxy email address is then forwarded to the domain owner’s actual email address, usually after running through a spam filter.
A number of GoDaddy’s competitors use similar systems, including Network Solutions and Demand Media’s eNom. To date, GoDaddy has not publicly asserted its patents, except for cross-licensing. Its patent war chest (most of which are merely pending patents) could make the company an attractive acquisition target, and also deters other companies from suing it for patent infringement.