The U.S. Patent and Trademark office has granted patent number 9,172,673 (pdf) to Verisign for “Systems and methods for domain name exchange”.
The system would allow someone to trade in their existing domain name for another, perhaps on an unlimited basis.
Verisign asked ICANN to allow it to offer such a service in April 2010, noting that it would be helpful to webhosts who offer trials and monthly subscriptions to customers. If the customer stopped paying, then the host could trade in the domain name for another one a customer wants.
It withdrew the request the next month.
The patent application cites a different use for the domain exchange service that wasn’t disclosed in the request to ICANN: domain tasting.
Domain tasting allowed registrants to register a domain name and delete it within 5 days for a refund if they didn’t want to keep it. This allowed them to “taste” the traffic to the domain. If parking it wasn’t profitable, they’d delete it. It was like a risk-free trial of type-in traffic.
The end of domain tasting hurt Verisign, and the domain name exchange was an idea to allow registrants to continue the practice under a different guise.
Verisign can’t offer the service, but it now has a patent for it.back