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Network Solutions, Inc. Joins with Thomson and Thomson to Link Traditional Trademark and Domain Name Services
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Posted On July 31, 2000
Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI; http://www.networksolutions.com), the world's leading Internet domain name registrar, and Thomson and Thomson, the leading trademark information service (http://www.thomson-thomson.com), have formed an alliance to provide trademark and brand protection services that cover both traditional and Internet identities. The exclusive joint marketing and distribution agreement will promote reciprocal products and services through NSI's idNames division (http://www.idnames.com) and through Thomson and Thomson's SAEGIS (http://www.saegis.com) and general Web site services. Thomson and Thomson (T&T) has provided access to NSI data on its SAEGIS service for many years and made some of that data available free. However, this marks the first time that NSI users, specifically users of NSI's idNames commercial services, have had access to data generated by Thomson and Thomson. The services should launch sometime during the fall.

Thomson and Thomson produces the Trademarkscan databases available on several major commercial search services and through its own Web sites. It provides trademark, copyright, intellectual property, and brand name protection services to the legal and corporate markets. According to Jay Gast, president of Thomson and Thomson, "This relationship with idNames is an important step in T&T's evolution—providing our customers with expert domain name registration advice, supplying the business community with valuable intelligence and brand identity information, and demonstrating our continued commitment to providing the most innovative and comprehensive services at each critical stage of the trademark life cycle."

Network Solutions had the original monopoly from the U.S. government for registering Internet domain names in the .com, .net, .org, and .edu generic, top-level domain name categories. That monopoly ended in 1999. Now owned by VeriSign Co., NSI still runs the leading Internet registration service with over 10 million domain names from Registry customers, including all the registrars of domain names ending in .com, .net, and .org. NSI's idNames service assists clients in protecting and maintaining corporate Internet identities worldwide, by handling registration in different countries. Speaking of the new alliance, Jim Rutt, CEO of NSI, said: "With companies going online in record numbers, the lines between trademarks and domain names have been blurring. Together, we're making it easier for customers to protect and promote their trademarks and brands both online and off-line."

Under the new arrangement, idNames will provide Thomson and Thomson users with the following:

  • Generic, top-level domain name (gTLD) registration and search services covering the .com, .net, and .org domain areas  
  • Country-code top-level domain name (ccTLD) registration and searching for over 192 country domain tags worldwide  
  • Worldwide domain name registrant name change agreements (RNCA) which legally transfer ownership of a domain name to another registrant  
  • Worldwide private domain name registration to allow corporations to secure domain names for future use without revealing their identities
Thomson and Thomson's SAEGIS service already provides a wide array of Internet domain name tracking services. The Domain Name search covers not only .com, .net, and .org, but also .edu and .gov. The SiteComber screening search tracks the Web for common law occurrences of a proposed trademark in specific classes of products and services. The Worldwide Domain Name search covers close to 200 registries for all gTLD categories, as well as domains from key countries such as .uk (United Kingdom) and .it (Italy). A Thomson and Thomson representative explained that though much of the coverage will remain the same as already appears on SAEGIS, the partnership means that NSI will assume responsibility for a substantial portion of the data. Thomson and Thomson will continue to gather .edu and .gov data on its own, for example. An NSI representative indicated that Thomson and Thomson would add the Maintenance service coverage available now from idNames.

The idNames service provides special registration services for companies interested in registering their domain names abroad. The cost of assistance varies depending on the number of names covered and the countries designated. For example, a straight registration with unrestricted countries costs $199. For restricted countries, costs will run from $550 for a single name, to $500 each for two to 50 names, and $450 each for 51 to 100 names. Restricted countries, such as France, Canada, Hong Kong, China, etc., are defined as countries with special requirements—e.g., a registrant must have a local presence or fill out specific government-issued documentation. The idNames service will soon announce an arrangement with Andersen Legal Network to handle the local presence requirement for China, the Czech Republic, Greece, and the Netherlands. In this case, Andersen will form the administrative contact—for $1,350 plus idNames charges—and lease back names to corporations. They also have a $1,000 plus idNames basic fees arrangement for Tier 1 countries (Germany, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, and Italy). The registrations usually cover 2 years and then require another renewal.

Under the new alliance, idNames users will receive access to the following Thomson and Thomson services:

  • Trademark screening searches for proposed trademarks from classes related to requestor's products and services  
  • U.S. trademark full availability search for a comprehensive search of a proposed trademark against U.S. federal, state, and common law trademarks
Although the new relationship remains fluid, at present Thomson and Thomson has no plans to share NSI data with sister subsidiaries such as Gale Group (which carries URLs in its Company Intelligence database), Dialog, or West Group, T&T's immediate parent. By the way, speaking of services to the legal market, an NSI representative told us that the company has opened a new site for discussions of disputed domain names: http://www.domainmagistrate.com.


Barbara Quint was senior editor of Online Searcher, co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, and a columnist for Information Today.


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