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Matthew Sanderson Comments on Cybersquatting, Romney-Perry and Perry-Romney Domain Names Selling for $50K

August 28, 2011, The Hill

Excerpt taken from article.

The owner of the domain names and has put a price on the rights to the websites: $50,000 each.

The auction is a clear sign that the presidential race is heating up, as the cottage industry of presidential domain names gears up for profit.

Matthew Sanderson, a Washington-based political lawyer who worked on the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), said there are few legal remedies for a candidate who wishes to control a website that someone else already owns.

Federal law allows companies to sue to get a domain if it infringes on a registered trademark. Additionally, a company can enter a dispute-resolution process to claim a domain.

But to claim a Web address, a candidate has to show he has a commercial right to his name, Sanderson said. That is possible if the candidate has written books or marketed himself commercially, but it is difficult, he said.

If the candidate cannot claim the address through the courts or dispute resolution, he has to negotiate with the site's owner to buy the address.

Sanderson said Obama was in a good position in 2008 because he already owned He kept that address for the general election, and it is currently the address for his 2012 reelection bid.

Sanderson suggested the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit that manages the Web's address system, should create a new ".pol" top-level domain (as the suffix of a Web address is known) that would be reserved for candidates.

He said a new top-level domain for campaigns would help to eliminate the problem of political cybersquatting. Click here to read more on cybersquatting of presidential domain names.


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