Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Trademarks, Scams and DNS

Part of this blog post should interest people who own domain names and run websites. Part of this blog post should interest anyone with an interest in Rosetta Code.

I received yet another scam email this morning warning me that someone was going to register a domain that might infringe on my "intellectual property."

(copied in all its HTML glory)

Dear Manager:
This email is from China domain name registration center, which mainly deal with the domain name registration and dispute internationally in China and Asia.
On March 28th 2011. We received HAITONG company's application, they want to register " rosettacode" as its Internet keyword and CN/Asia domain names. It is china and Asia domain names. But after checking we find this domain name conflict with your company, in order to deal with this matter better, so we send you email, and want to confirm whether this company is your distributor or business partner in China?

I'm looking forward to hearing from you!
Best Regards,
Oversea marketing manager
Office: +86(0)21 6191 8696
Mobile: +86 1366152 9704
Fax: +86(0)21 6191 8697

One technical thing you should notice about emails such as this: there's a space prepending the 'rosettacode' string, so the actual identifier would be " rosettacode".

DNS does not allow spaces in domain names, so, right away, this prospective domain would be invalid. Even if I were to respond to this email and pay the guy to buy the domain from the erstwhile squatter, there's no way he could sell it to me and enter it into the system. (I also doubt I'd get a refund)

About my general position relating to 'rosettacode' as a trademark

First, I'm not the first guy to come up with the domain. As it happens, was (and I believe still is) owned by someone else. He and I have communicated a number of times since I discovered the potential conflict. He and I are working on two very different projects, so there's no trademark dispute. However, because I wanted to absolutely avoid any matter of ambiguity, I've been hosting a small amount of static data he provided as a kind of disambiguation page. (If you point '' to's IP address, you should still be able to see it)

Second, I don't care if you want to use the name 'rosettacode' or 'rosetta code' in similar pursuits. I love that people have been calling task pages that have cropped up on various forums around the web as "rosetta code problems." That speaks well of (and popularizes) the nature of the solution, which I like and appreciate. Besides, I own the DNS entry. If someone wants to find Rosetta Code, I've got the implicit domain for it. It's really no skin off my teeth of you want to popularize the term.

That's all. I'd write about the massive amount of interesting things I've been watching happen on the wiki (we've got a large number of new users and tasks), but I'm a bit low on time.