Internet Law

Domain Names and Your Online Business Identity

A domain name is a Web address that points to an Internet Protocol (IP) address. The domain name that you choose for your business becomes your online business identity. Potential customers will be able to reach you via your Internet domain name. It can be compared to a personal address through which your business partners, customers, buyers and sellers can contact you directly.

IP Address

An IP address is the numeric address behind a domain name that holds a website's real location on the Web. The IP address takes the form of four numbers separated by dots, for example: 123.45.67.89. Every computer or device on the Internet has what is known as an IP address, which uniquely defines that device and enables devices to find each other on the Internet.

The Domain Name System

The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users to find their way around the Internet. The DNS makes using the Internet easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead of a hard to remember IP address.

ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is responsible for managing and coordinating the DNS to ensure that every address is unique and that all users of the Internet can find all valid addresses. It does this by overseeing the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. It also ensures that each domain name maps to the correct IP address.

InterNIC

The InterNIC Web site is operated by ICANN to provide the public information regarding Internet domain name registration services. You may do the following on the InterNIC Web site:

  • Search domain records in the Registry Whois (this portion of the ICANN Web site provides information on who is responsible for domain name registration and resolving technical problems related to domain names)
  • Find registrar contact details in the Accredited Registrar Directory
  • File a registrar complaint through the Registrar Problem Report Form
  • Report inaccurate Whois data through the Whois Data Problem Report Form

Choice of Domain Name

The most obvious choice for a domain name is your company name. If your company name is not available then you may want a domain name that matches your company tag line or relates to what you do or sell. A domain name should be short, unique and easy to remember since it is the pathway to the Web site of your company. Your domain name helps buyers, sellers, customers and business clients to access your company's Web site on the Internet.

Search for Possible Names

You can purchase a domain name for your business but before you buy a domain name, you need to conduct a domain name check in order to avoid confusion and duplicity. You'll want to see which domain names are available.

Search Network Solutions' WHOIS database to check domain name availability. Try to use short, easy-to-remember and easy-to-spell names for your domain name. A domain name check ensures the availability of the domain name that you have selected for your Web site. You will be provided with the list of domain names by the domain registering company and depending on the availability of the desired domain name, you can then register it.

Reserving a Domain Name

If the domain name is available you'll be encouraged to reserve it, but you may want to shop around for the best price you can get on a domain name registration before you actually reserve it. The domain name registration business is highly competitive and prices vary.

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