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"Domain Name Spying"-the latest technique in domain name sabotage

If you are a new Internet business owner, you likely have spent a good deal of time trying to determine what domain name will be best for your operations.  To this end, you may have taken the steps necessary to determine the availability of a particular domain name.  In fact, finding that it is available may have made you very pleased.  Not registering the domain name upon your first visit, you return a couple of days later ... to find that someone else has registered the domain name you wanted in the interim.

Of course, this all could have been a coincidence.  Nonetheless, in this day and age, a more likely possibility may be that another entity actually tracked your search for a particular domain name and intentionally registered that domain name itself.  Those entities that are now engaging in this insidious practice are said to be domain name spying.  In fact, there now appear to be operations that solely engage in domain name spying.

The reality is that there is nothing new about operators interfering with a bona fide business's attempts to register a domain name.  Cybersquatting involves registering a domain name confusingly similar to another trademark and then offering to sell that domain name to the trademark's actual owner for a greatly inflated price.  There are other practices that interfere with legitimate attempts to register domain names, including domain name tasting and domain kiting.
Domain name tasting is a process that takes advantage of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) policy that allows a five day grace period in which a domain name can be returned.  A domain name taster registers numerous domain names in order to generate advertising income from short term ownership to determine which domain names might be most profitable over the long haul.  If the registrant finds that certain domain names don't meet his or her goals, the domain name simply is returned.

Domain kiting actually takes the tasting concept a step further.  Through kiting the ICANN grace period is abused.  As with domain name tasting, the registrant will return a domain name at the end of the ICANN five day grace period.  The different between kiting and tasting is that when the registrant returns the domain name, the registrant will then quickly reacquire the same domain all over again.  In short, a registrant engaging in kiting will retain ownership of the domain name in question over an extended period of time and will never pay for that ownership.
 
Understanding domain name tasting and kiting, a reader can appreciate how domain name spying is an outgrowth of these practices.  The difference rests in the fact that domain name spying is intended to target those domain names that someone else or another business enterprise has a specific interest in owning.  At this juncture, it is not specifically known how a domain name spy gathers information relating to another business checking on the availability of a domain name.

Some victims of domain name spies may have at least some recourse through trademark and cybersquatting laws.  However, if a domain name spy does not violate these laws, a business actually may have no remedy at this juncture.
If you find that you have been victimized while checking the availability of domain names, you probably will end up with two choices:
i.    select another domain name
ii.    pay the domain name spy a premium for the domain name you actually do want

The best way to avoid becoming a victim of domain name spying is to purchase immediately any domain that you may have an interest in.  Remember, if you elect not to use a certain domain, you have five days to return that domain name with no charge to you.

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