Domain-name registrar NameKing.com has suspended “domain tasting” in the wake of a federal lawsuit by Microsoft Corp. accusing NameKing customer Maltuzi LLC of cyber-squatting, trademark infringement and unfair competition.
With NameKing’s consent, Maltuzi, based in Mountain View, Calif., has been one of the most prolific domain tasters. To taste a name is to register it for a maximum of five days and evaluate how much traffic it gets and how much revenue it generates from paid-search ads. If the name generates more revenue than the annual cost to register it, the taster keeps it. Tasting exploits a rule that allows registrars to return to VeriSign within a five-day grace period any .com or .net name that was registered for a customer by mistake, and to recoup the $6 wholesale price.
Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft accused Maltuzi of registering more than 450 Web addresses corresponding to its trademarks as part of domain-tasting binges.
“Upon review, NameKing has suspended domain tasting for all customers while we assess best practices surrounding this activity,” the registrar, owned by Los Angeles-based Oversee.net, says on its FAQ page. “We will likely re-open tasting only to registrants that have demonstrated sufficient rules and procedures to significantly reduce the occurrence of trademark violations.”
Last fall, NameKing customer Chesterton Holdings was sued by Wilmington Trust for trademark infringement in connection with tasting. Wilmington Trust dropped the suit after Chesterton Holdings agreed to transfer the names to the financial-services company. An employee of Oversee.net was a manager at Chesterton Holdings, according to Josh Armstrong, general counsel for Oversee.net.