HISTORY OF THE INTRODUCTION OF THE .BIZ DOMAIN
The .BIZ top-level domain was to be a “restricted domain” limited to only those parties who intend to use the domain for a “bona fide business or commercial use.” A bona fide business or commercial use or intent to use was defined as “(i) to exchange goods, services, or property of any kind; or (ii) in the ordinary course of trade or business; or (iii) to facilitate the exchange of goods, services, information, or property of any kind or the ordinary course of trade or business.” It was not considered a bona fide business or commercial use to use or intend to use the domain name “exclusively for the expression of noncommercial ideas, i.e. registering ABCSUCKS.BIZ exclusively to criticize or otherwise express an opinion on the products or services of ABC company, with no other intended business or commercial purpose.”
In addition, selling, trading, or leasing the domain name, or making an unsolicited offer to sell, trade or lease the domain name for compensation was not considered a bona fide business purpose or intended purpose.
In order to prevent potential “cybersquatting” with respect to the initial introduction of the .BIZ domain, NeuLevel, the .BIZ Registry of the time, introduced an I.P. Claim Service to protect trademark holders from the expected initial “gold rush” in registering .BIZ domain names.
Under the I.P. Claim Service, trademark holders, whether common law, registered or pending trademarks or service marks, filed claims of their trademark rights electronically with NeuLevel, or other Registrars which had entered into agreements with NeuLevel. The claim of trademark rights was not an application for the domain name in question. The trademark owner needed to separately file applications for the domain name.
If a third party filed an application for the exact trademark upon which a trademark owner had electronically filed a claim under the I.P. Claim Service, the .BIZ Registry would notify the applicant of the trademark holders’ claimed prior rights, and would also notify the trademark holder of the application, including the applicant’s particulars.
The applicant would then have the opportunity to either notify the .BIZ Registry that it planned to maintain its application, in which case the application would enter the pool of applications which would be randomly selected for registration; or, if the applicant notified the .BIZ Registry that it did not wish to maintain its application or if the applicant took no action, the application would be considered withdrawn and would not be included in the random selection process.
If an applicant maintained its application and the application was randomly selected for registration, the domain name which was identical to the trademark upon which the trademark owner had filed a claim would be placed “on hold” so that no one could use the domain name during a “Cooling-Off Period,” during which period the trademark holder could either resolve the matter amicably, or could file a “Start-Up Trademark Opposition Policy” (“STOP”) claim, a modified version of the ICANN UDRP. Under the STOP Opposition procedure, the trademark holder had to prove that the domain name was either registered or used in “bad faith,” a much lower standard of proof than under the UDRP, which is applicable to disputes if the I. P. Claim procedure was not invoked by the trademark holder.
In addition to the STOP procedure, and the availability of the UDRP, there was also an on-going Restriction Dispute Resolution Policy (“RDRP”), to resolve claims that that the .BIZ domain name Registrant was not using or did not intend to use the domain name for a bona fide commercial purpose. Under the Policy, a third party with standing could file a complaint alleging that the “domain name is not being, or will not be, used primarily for a bona fide business or commercial purpose” and the Complainant “has been injured, or is likely to be injured, as a direct result of the third party’s registration or use of the domain name.” A mere claim of non-use of the domain name was to be insufficient to succeed in such an action.
Moving forward to today, the .BIZ domain is active, and has achieved a respectable position behind .COM.
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