Front-Running Fiends

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The practice of front running is nothing new.

In the world of securities, it's a well-known illegal practice that occurs when a stock broker executes orders on his own account before filling orders previously submitted by his customers. Even before the stock market came into existence, American settlers in the late 19th century discovered ways to pre-emptively file a claim on a parcel of unoccupied, but desirable, territory.

Now front running seems to have leapt from the worlds of pioneers and stock brokers into the realm of the Internet as domain name front running, which is the practice whereby someone gets wind of demand for an unclaimed domain name and nabs it before the prospective buyer has a chance to purchase it.

"If a registrar reserves the domain name themselves and the company later decides it wants to buy the name, then the company would have to go through that particular registrar to do so," says Josh Braunstein, general manager at CT Corsearch, a provider of clearance and protection solutions for trademark and IP professionals.

Test Case
Accusations that registrar Network Solutions engaged in this practice have landed the company in court.

Also, there are some best practices companies can use to prevent domain front running.

"The best course of action for a company is to register the domain name immediately after searching for its availability, even if you're not sure you need it, because the cost is less than to buy it from someone else," says Margie Milam, general counsel at MarkMonitor Inc., which provides companies with brand-protection solutions.

Technology Editor

Keith Ecker

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