Re: The Path URN Specification - trademarks

Paul Hoffman (
Wed, 29 Mar 1995 14:38:32 -0700

Message-Id: <v0211010cab9f7f4630d5@[]>
Date: Wed, 29 Mar 1995 14:38:32 -0700
To: John Curran <>
From: (Paul Hoffman)
Subject: Re: The Path URN Specification - trademarks

>Some entity will "assign" xxx.path.urn to a company, giving them an implicit
>endorsement of use of that set of URNs, and will do it without consideration
>to the current DNS allocations.  To quote Michael:
>>If you are asking if there is a relationship between the existing
>>hostnames and the "path.urn" names - there is not. They are unrelated.
>>It would probably be the case that some of the same machines that
>>function as nameservers for hostnames would also function as servers
>>for the "path.urn" namespace, but this isn't required.  ...

Ah, or should I say, arrrgh. Creating another naming authority seems like a
Very Bad Thing for many reasons, not just the potential for trademark
infringement. I misunderstood the I-D since it uses very DNS-looking
examples and talks at the beginning about existing naming authorities.

>What entity has the honor of registering publishers?  Do we have a policy
>document which provides this entity with guidance on how to perform these
>registrations?  In particular, if I apply on day 1 for path:/com/microsoft,
>will the registration be accepted or not?

These are relevant questions with respect to the legal issue of "trade
dress," which encompasses what companies do to make themselves look a
particular way outside of just trademarks. Trade dress that is highly
likely to create confusion of ownership, even if it's not confusion with a
trademark, can get you into all sorts of trouble, I believe. Setting up an
"alternate" domain name system (where the domain is URNs instead of
machines) could certainly be considered confusing.

>That's not to say we shouldn't establish a new namespace for this purpose,
>only that we may have to watch the outcome of the current suits underway to
>determine the safest course of action.

I'm not aware of any current lawsuits. All the public complaints have been
resolved out of court, I believe. This doesn't mean we're safe; there are
still hundreds of thousands of hungry lawyers out there, and many of them
are just clueless enough about the Internet to smell money in domain names.

--Paul Hoffman
--Proper Publishing