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Owning Words in Cyberspace: The Accidental Trademark Regime

David J. Franklyn

University of San Francisco School of Law

Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2001, 2001

The Internet is changing attitudes and feelings about the idea of owning language, which will affect American trademark law and regulations. This will eventually reshape American trademark's core conceptual boundaries. Specifically, the domain name system is a property system that competes with trademark law and encourages the commodification of words in ways that is contrary to current trademark law. For example, trademark law does not permit the sale of words, but an on-line auction house that is an internet corporation for assigned names and numbers may list thousands of words for sale on its website such as wine.com or business.com.

This Article argues that the Internet domain name system is nurturing a more pro-property view of word ownership than presently exists in trademark law, and this new attitude will not easily go away. As this novel form of word ownership and right of property expands, the domain name system becomes a rival trademark regime that coexists in an uneasy tension with traditional trademark law.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 40

Keywords: cyberspace, trademark, Internet, domain name, ownership, property

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Date posted: March 5, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Franklyn, David J., Owning Words in Cyberspace: The Accidental Trademark Regime. Wisconsin Law Review, Vol. 2001, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1100043

Contact Information

David J. Franklyn (Contact Author)
University of San Francisco School of Law ( email )
2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
(415) 422-6229 (Phone)
(415) 422-6433 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.usfca.edu/law/faculty/fulltime/DavidJFranklyn.html

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