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Sten Lillieström — 16/09/22

Time for you to monitor blockchain domains?

Traditional domain names are not enough according to innovators in blockchain technology. One of the most prominent arguments is that the current domain name system is far too top-managed and restrictive. At the domain industry's flagship conference NamesCon in Austin 2022, blockchain domains were also a pervaded theme. At the same time, most things are still written in the stars.

Right now, large investments are being pumped into a wide range of different solutions that are supposed to revolutionize the internet. It’s also starting to be such a power struggle that the actors turn on each other. An example is the actor Unstoppable Domains, which recently sued another actor because they sell the same domain extension; -”.wallet” – but in its own system. Unstoppable Domains believes that it creates confusion and by extension since blockchain technology is largely about the transfer of cryptocurrency, can lead to transfers ending up at the wrong recipient.

So, it seems that one of the biggest arguments for blockchain technology in the domain industry – that no one can control who owns what – does not apply in the boardrooms of the companies that sell the blockchain domains.

All of this may seem quite laughable, but at the same time, it should also be remembered that not so long ago the internet could be described as “a trend” that will die out.

Perhaps even gold diggers and settlers in the blockchain sphere may eventually come to the conclusion that some adaptation to the existing regulations is necessary. However, there is no interest from for example ICANN, who today manages the traditional internet, to venture into that hornet’s nest. Likewise, from the other side, there is no interest whatsoever in allowing such a thing – if, against all odds, it would become relevant.

In any case, it is undeniable that the hierarchical structure of the traditional Internet simplifies regulation and compliance. For example, a trademark infringement or cybersquatting case may lead to deactivation or transfer of a domain name. This is made possible in part because there are laws and regulations for the technology, but also because the system is based on conditional access to central databases, and obvious missteps can therefore be addressed.

But even if those who sell blockchain domains hardly can contradict themselves by establishing registers of owners or creating new dispute procedures, there are also those within the blockchain clique who see that something unregulated can lead to the need for at least an overview. Various forms of monitoring services have therefore started to appear so that established holders of intellectual property rights can at least know if their brand has been registered on the blockchain internet. Dotkeeper is the only domain partner in the Swedish market offering a combined monitoring service of registrations with the largest suppliers.

That’s about as far as you can go at the moment – ​​it’s possible to see if someone has registered a domain or extension that contains or resembles the trademark. Who the person is – is usually impossible to determine. Legally speaking, there is also no established way to access or deactivate a domain holding. The only measures that are therefore available are to either, if the domain is for sale, to buy it, or if it is on a marketplace – to ask the marketplace to stop selling the domain.

Perhaps the dream of a “free internet” where no one can shut down or censor anyone else finally falls on its own. Perhaps something new, better, and more sustainable can evolve out of the current mess. It is difficult to predict the future, but regardless, perhaps the best advice for those who want to defend and protect their intellectual property rights is to continue to monitor the situation, to be ready if and when it is possible and necessary.

We can now help you monitor your brand, trademark, or other important names in this space of the internet, through our new service Blockchain Domain Watch. Get in contact with us and we’ll be at your service.