Sunday, September 13, 2009

Think Your Domain Name Was Registered A Long Time Ago?

If you think your domain name was registered a long time ago, check out SYMBOLICS.COM....
According to this story, this domain name was first registered in 1985 (!) and was the first domain name to be registered - EVER - and is celebrating its 25th anniversary. Since then, over 200 million domain names have been registered, according to this Times UK story.

I remember the first time I ever became acquainted with the Internet and domain names...Actually, it was on numerous different occassion, which collectively, led to my interest in the Internet and becoming a domain name lawyer.

1. Using Compuserve on my friend Matthew Sherman's computer. This was about the time the first Space Shuttle took off, so it was in or around 1981. Actually, it must have been 1982, since I think we must have been using his Commmodore 64. I recall we tried using the Flight Simulator game on it...It was pathetic in hindsight, but we took it very seriously. Remember what the interface looked like"?  Matthew Sherman also introduced me to CB radios. That was fun...and kind of like the Internet in a certain way....

2. But that was probably a little after the Folman family had been participating in a test market of another "pre-internet" device, that was called something like "teledon" (that wasnt it I dont think though). If I recall it was a terminal that was set up in a number of homes in Toronto, Canada, that allowed users to access some basic directories of various businesses. It was something like a yellow pages directory if I recall. Anyhow, this was space age technology as far as I was concerned. Simply magic. Must have been in the late 1970's. Maybe Ronit Folman will Google herself and find this post and answer the question of what this device/service was called....

3. One day I was sitting on a run-down patio of a cafe in Toronto, Canada. It wasn't the Jet Fuel cafe in Cabbagetown, because that was across the street...unless Jet Fuel used to be on the West side of Parliament, which is possible....Anyhow, I was having a super strong Latte, trying to wake up from a late night shift of waiting tables, and a somewhat scruffy looking guy sat down like he owned the place and lit up a hash pipe. He said, if I recall correctly, and this was maybe 15 years ago, perhaps in 1995, that he did in fact own part of the place. He said he was a "Technology Evangalist" and even had a card which I wish I still had. He said his job was to get people excited about technology. Apparently he was involved in some pioneering projects at the time. That was the first time I had ever heard of this term or anything similar to it. I forget exactly what he was talking about, but he was talking about some wild conceptual things about technology and the Internet, perhaps about ISP's and networking. Anyhow, it blew me away that there was a new frontier of exploration and this guy was apparently at the forefront of it; discovering and exploring things that people had not even heard of. Sent tingles up the spine. Look, at that time, this was true evangelism; showing and convinving people about the truth and the future of the Internet; leading people out of the woods, talking about amazing new applications and abilities; talking crazy like about how everybody is one day going to be connected via "the Internet".

4. I was working at Movenpick in Yorkville, in Toronto, as a waiter, while taking a hiatus from law school. A German pastry chef, Peter, asked me, being the resident scholar, if I had ever used the Internet. I had not...but I had just heard of it from that guy on the patio...So, I resolved to try it. It was a eureka moment. Think IRC, newsgroups, Pow Wow, Tucows (when it was just a great freeware and shareware site), Command and Conquer played via a program called KALI which enabled multiplayer games before there was any such thing commercially available ($20 for a lifetime subscription...had to send cash in the mail to a guy in New York I think). this must have been around 1995 or 1996. Which reminds me of my first VOIP experience. There was a guy who had a web site that you could use to leave him a recording on his answering machine tape (yes; tape) in New York City. That was wild!

5. I was at Osgood Hall Law School in 1995, and I took a course entitled "International Taxation". I wrote a paper called "Taxation of Internet Commerce". I "self-published" on the web back in 1996 and then First Monday, a peer-reviewed journal on the Internet (one of the first, if not first, of its kind) graciously contacted me and asked to publish it in their journal. This was a widely cited paper, and was the first paper on this subject of its kind. This is what got me interested in Internet law scholarship.

6. Then finally there was my first domain name dispute, Toronto.com v. Toronto2.com. I got my first taste of domain name litigation, trademark law, and the value of domain names. This was in 1999. It was a Federal court proceeding brought by the Toronto Star and Bell. I won the case in my first year of law, months after passing the bar. That was the start of my becoming a domain name lawyer. There I learned about and pioneered the "descriptive domain name" defense. I spoke about this domain name case briefly when I was interviewed for DomainBits.

Once in a while a meet someone who was involved with the Internet in the mid-1990's. Once in a very long while, I meet someone who was involved before that. Those were heady days. A few of us domain name lawyers from the late 1990's and early 2000's are still around and practising today and still in touch. Domain name law has exposed me to every facet of the Internet, as domain names are the cornerstones of all Internet businesses.

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