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Smith v. Network Solutions

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Citation Edit

Smith v. Network Solutions, Inc., 135 F.Supp.2d 1159 (N.D. Ala. 2001) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

Plaintiff was a computer programmer and self-styled "Internet entrepreneur." After unsuccessfully attempting to register various domain names, he filed suit claiming that the defendants violated the antitrust laws by failing to make publicly available domain names that have "expired" in the sense that the prior registrant of each name has failed to pay a registration renewal fee on or before a "record expires" date, which corresponds to the registration anniversary in the year through which the prior registrant had paid NSI to keep each name under registration.

Trial Court Proceedings Edit

The plaintiff alleged that the particular expiring domain names he wished to acquire constituted a separate market for antitrust purposes.[1] The court rejected this proposed market definition, finding no appreciable difference between those particular expiring names and other types of names.

The court broadly observed that “there is no inherent difference in character, for purposes of interchangeability and cross-elasticity of demand, between domain names that are ‘expired’ . . . and those that are not.”[2] It did so, however, because it viewed the proposed market of some particular expiring domain names as too small.

Taken to its logical conclusion, Plaintiff’s argument implies that each individual domain name is a relevant market unto itself for antitrust purposes, subject the entity ‘controlling’ the name at a particular time . . . to a charge of monopolization.[3]

References Edit

  1. 135 F.Supp.2d at 1168.
  2. Id. at 1169.
  3. Id.

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