What's in a name? Plenty, if you have it copyrighted

Aug. 18, 1996


Since commercial traffic was first allowed on the Internet, the number of domain names -- the names that make up the all-important World Wide Web or e-mail addresses found on the Net -- have increased rapidly in number.

And with the explosion of commercial names entering the wired world came the inevitable bumping heads of those who wanted their product or company name in a domain name.

The alleged advantage is product definition. After all, typing in the Web address for CNN is as easy as typing in www.cnn.com. There's little doubt who owns the Web site at this address.

But suppose a group with the same initials -- lets say, Covington Nautical Nerds -- already had a Web site up and running with the domain name www.cnn.com. What happens then?

The situation has come up time and time again. The solution has been that there has been no real solution. If I own a trademarked name and it is part of your domain name, should you have to relinquish it -- even though you've used it for years?

Yes and no has been the answer. Companies seeking domain names with their names or products have used legal action to force the issue. Time Warner started legal action this year against Roadrunner Computer Systems of New Mexico because it had the roadrunner domain name it sought. The case was dismissed after Time Warner decided not to pursue it.

But if it does do so, a change in the policy by the company that assigns domain names will give trademark holders more leverage.

Network Solutions Inc. is the company that hands out domain names under an agreement with the National Science Foundation, and NSI said this week it will now shut down within 90 days domain names that are challenged by holders of registered trademarks.

The move isn't necessarily an improvement, critics say, since it still doesn't address the problems that are likely to occur as more holders of registered trademarks want a domain name for their Internet site.

MICROSOFT BEATS NETSCAPE. Microsoft's chairman Bill Gates unveiled this week its latest version of its Microsoft Internet Explorer browser software.

Internet Explorer 3.0 ups the ante for Netscape, by adding more features that close the gap between it and Netscape Navigator, the most popular Web browsing software.

Microsoft paid several Web site operators of subscription-only sites to make them available free to Explorer 3.0 users for five months. This includes free access to The Wall Street Journal Interactive Edition, ESPNET SportsZone and InvestorsEdge.com.

In addition, other Web site's are being created to only work properly with the new browser, including a political chat site by MTV Online and a game or two on the popular Riddler.com Web site.

Meanwhile, Netscape promises its full release of its Navigator 3.0 to be available on Monday, and promises to have a handful of Netscape-only Web site deals to counter Microsoft's announcement this week.

For more details, visit the Microsoft and Netscape Web sites at http://www.microsoft.com/ie/, or http://home.netscape.com/ respectively.

MORE NETSCAPE TRICKS. I'll admit that I'm a fan of Netscape's Navigator, and prefer it to Microsoft's Internet Explorer. But even the best software can be improved upon, and often there are tips and tricks to improve user satisfaction with your Web surfing.

Readability: If your text on your browser is hard to read, experiment with the fonts. Netscape lets you choose both the proportional and the fixed fonts for text displayed in Web pages. Most of the text you see is encoded in a proportional font. Fixed fonts are used far less, for things such as tables and data that you enter.

You might also want to try a smaller screen font to get more information on screen. Click on the Choose Font button in the Fonts tab to make changes.

More room: As mentioned in this column before, you might want to eliminate all or some of the toolbars in the Navigator display to give you a larger viewable area. You can turn these items off by unchecking the Show Toolbar, Show Location, and Show Directory Buttons items in the Options menu.

Color me quick: It normally isn't done, but as the user, you can pick your own combination for colors of text, background and links that show up on your screen. Look under Options and General Preferences to override the Web page's color scheme.

Faster surfing: To improve navigation speed on the Web, turn off the graphics for Navigator under the Options menu. It takes some time to get used to not seeing graphics, and of course, some clickable graphics are a necessity in navigation the Web. But a couple of mouse clicks can turn the images back on, and reloading the page will bring the graphics back if you get stuck.

Cache master: A tip I discovered on C|Net Central's Web site suggests making your hard drive cache size smaller in order to speed up Netscape Navigator.

The theory is that instead of checking a large cache of stored files and images, Netscape can just reload the page. Go to Options/Network Preferences and click on the Cache tab to change this option. Some say change it to never or only once per session. I chose once per session.

RELOAD MANIA. Ever wanted to reload a Web page and had nothing happen? There's a feature know as a Super Reload that will force Navigator to reload the current page.

In Windows, hold down the Shift key and click on the Reload button. On a Macintosh, press down Option and click on Reload.

Comments and questions about this column may be sent to jbrooks@myoldkentuckyhome.com, or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com on the World Wide Web.

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