New York Times Examines Legal Fight Over ‘.md’ Internet Domain Rights
The New York Times on Monday examined how the ".md" suffix following a Web site address has become a "long-sought domain" by some in the medical industry and has been "at the center of numerous legal battles and overlapping claims of exclusive rights." Regulators in 1994 assigned more than 240 domains to specific countries, designating .md for Moldova.
According to the Times, "Almost from the moment it was assigned, Western companies cut deals with Moldova -- or cut deals with companies that cut deals with Moldova -- in attempts to squeeze cash out of the obvious health care connotation of its domain."
California-based DotMD in 1998 began marketing the suffix to people in the medical field, but a U.S. court in February 2003 ordered all rights over .md be returned to Moldova. New Jersey-based MaxMd recently acquired near-exclusive rights to market the domain in more than 90 countries, excluding Moldova, in exchange for a percentage of all sales.
NIH has purchased the right to www.physician.md, and New-Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson recently purchased more than 120 Web addresses with the domain. According to the Times, "Physicians are almost certain to see potential for their own names" as well (Zeller, New York Times, 12/13).