By Julia Anne Matheson and Michael R. Justus, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, Washington, D.C. IP attorneys: meet IP address ownership, the next-generation property dispute. Every device that connects to the internet, from laptops to smart phones, is assigned a unique address called an internet protocol address. The IP address allows the device to communicate with other devices on the Internet. Unlike domain names, IP addresses typically receive little attention from litigants and the courts. A battle is brewing, however, over IP address ownership rights. Three groups stand divided: those who believe that IP addresses may be owned, bought, and sold as property; those who believe that IP addresses do not constitute property, but rather are shared identifiers like phone numbers; and those who simply wait for clarity on the issue, unsure of their rights. So far, the ownership question remains unanswered by the courts. Indeed, no court has directly addressed the issue of property rights in IP addresses. Meanwhile, individuals and companies continue to sell or transfer (or consider selling or transferring) large blocks of IP addresses without a clear understanding of what or who may regulate or restrict such transactions. ICANN, ARIN, and the Legacy RSA The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a nonprofit organization, manages and coordinates the Domain Name System and oversees the distribution of unique IP addresses and domain names. To assist with worldwide IP address allocation, ICANN designated five regional IP address registries. The American Registry for Internet Numbers Ltd., or ARIN, has been the sole authorized administrator of IP addresses in North America since 1997. All IP addresses obtained in North America after ARIN's 1997 appointment are subject to the terms of ARIN's service agreements, which place a number of restrictions on IP address holders, including restrictions on the transfer of IP addresses. It is unclear, however, whether IP addresses obtained pre-1997, known as "legacy addresses," are subject to ARIN's authority. ARIN does not explicitly claim control over legacy addresses, but it has not clearly admitted to a lack of authority either. In fact, ARIN encourages legacy-address holders to voluntarily submit to ARIN's authority by executing a service agreement known as the Legacy Registration Services Agreement or "Legacy RSA." ARIN touts the Legacy RSA as a contractual guarantee of certain benefits, including the grandfathering of certain protected rights and reduced annual fees. ARIN sent the Legacy RSA to known legacy address holders with a "deadline" of Dec. 31, 2011, by which to sign the agreement. It is unclear what will happen to non-compliant legacy holders after the deadline passes, especially given the uncertainty surrounding ARIN's authority over legacy addresses. In fact, ARIN has extended the Legacy RSA deadline twice already and may choose to do so again rather than aggressively pursuing other avenues. Legacy holders must weigh the pros and cons of signing the Legacy RSA. Among the pros, Legacy RSA adopters receive a number of protected rights, including the following: ARIN will not terminate a Legacy RSA for its convenience;• ARIN will not reduce the services it provides to legacy address holders; ARIN will not revoke unused legacy addresses unless the legacy holder breaches the agreement; and Legacy holders may choose to adopt the terms of any later Legacy RSA at their discretion… Read this entire article for free, simply activate your free 15 day trial access to Patent Trademark & Copyright Journal now. Patent Trademark & Copyright Journal First Name(required) Last Name(required) Email(valid email required) Job Title(required) Organisation(required) Address(required) Address 2 City(required) ZIP/Postal Code(required) Country(required) Phone(required) Verification I would like to receive occasional emails about product updates and special offers cforms contact form by delicious:days
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