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Remarkable Internet History: Equifax Invented .COM in 1975

John Berryhill

Once in a while, one comes across a new take on history that challenges everything you thought you knew. If you're the type who engages in bar bets with geeks, then this one is a certain gem.

In 2001, Equifax submitted to the USPTO a sworn application to register a curious trademark, which eventually issued in 2004 with this data (among other information):

Word Mark EFX.COM

Goods and Services IC 041. US 100 101 107. G & S: Educational services, namely, providing seminars relating to credit and money management via the global computer information network. FIRST USE: 19750228. FIRST USE IN COMMERCE: 19750228

Filing Date March 16, 2001

Registration Number 2822004

Registration Date March 16, 2004

Owner (REGISTRANT) Equifax Inc. CORPORATION GEORGIA 1550 Peachtree Street, N.W Atlanta GEORGIA 30309

Aside from the fact that Equifax has never actually held registration of the domain name efx.com, the truly outstanding fact here is that Equifax and/or its attorney has actually sworn to the United States Government that it was using "EFX.COM" as a mark for the provision of providing educational seminars via the internet since February 1975 (there was a time when, due to some uncertainty as to the status of the term "internet", the USPTO required applicants to refer to it as "the global information network" in trademark registration applications).

Until now, I had imagined that Jon Postel added .com to the root in 1985. However, it now appears that Dr. Postel must have been inspired by the pioneering work of Equifax in using the internet for commercial purposes well prior to the NSF/DoC handoff which permitted commercial use of the internet, and indeed Equifax must therefore be credited with its imaginative use of .com.

Surely, it would not be the case that Equifax, its attorneys at the time, and any attorney currently advancing a claim based on this data would be lying, as that would constitute perjury under 18 USC 1001, federal wire fraud, and several other serious offenses - especially if such an attorney were, say, an accredited UDRP panelist. Therefore, we must only conclude that, indeed, Equifax was well out in front of the pack, ten years before ".com" even existed.

By John Berryhill, Attorney
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Related topics: Cybercrime, DNS, Domain Names, Law, New TLDs, UDRP
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Re: Remarkable Internet History: Equifax Invented .COM in 1975 Dave Zan  –  Jan 02, 2008 10:09 PM PST

Apparently they've filed a UDRP for the .net, but not for .com...so far.

I guess they figure the .com will be possibly harder to possibly obtain?

Re: Remarkable Internet History: Equifax Invented .COM in 1975 JFC Morfin  –  Jan 09, 2008 10:09 AM PST

John,
I think I explained more time than it was requested where COM (and .net) comes from :-). So… efx.com at that time had nothing to do with naming.

(1) com was the code for Tymnet, chosen by the Philips Corporate Data Network (CODAN) Manager, Mr. DeWitt (it was a joke we repeated to chose .net). It was then pasted at the different other Private Nets, inclunding ARPANET, when they hooked through Tymnet Gateways.

(2) at that time the International Network used the Root Names introduced by Robert Tréhin and Joe Rinde in 1977 at international level, as name header (COM----) including ISO 3166 3 letters root names (FRA, GER, etc. ITT, RCA, WUI, FTC ... for the US/IRCs) with the exception of "UK" due to the Tymshare UK Ltd Tymnet affiliate there.

(3) we (Tymnet International) started supporting ISO 3166 alpha2, to differentiate them from regular public service, for Telex refilers (so called "Pirates") in 1982/83, because alpha2 was the Telex code.

(4) when we interconnected ARPANET end of 1983 we supported it as any other traffic refiler and supported TCP/IP, providing direct conversion to X.25 for the countries with X.25 local services (like in Austria where IP clusters were invented at the Wien University). This permitted the X.121 addressing support.

(5) Jon Postel first made every Internet name end in ".arpa" and then started keeping control of the routing through the Internet or not (you can find the historic RFCs). Then he permitted names to be registered with .com and .net when public (eventually paying) access was permitted. At the Tymnet gateway ".com" was reversed as "ARPA-" and then "COM-". At the Telenet Gateway (with Internet and Tymnet, if I am correct numeric addresses were retained). 

(6) the results of the meetings with the different external (to the Internet) networks is the RFC 920 published in 1984, where .com and .net are listed and multiorganisation TLDs introduced with, the 500 possible names we had agreed upon to make the paperwork for a new root name with the public international packet switch services (IPSS) system. This is the legitimacy ICANN claims in ICP-3 and used to create new TLDs in 2000.

Also, the WIPO has agreed that ".TLDs" could not be registered as a separate TM.

So, in 1975 there was no Root Name or TLD.
In 1977, would EFX have registered a name it would have been ITTEFX, or WUIEFX.
in 1982, would EFX have dealt with Philips or other private networks it would have been COMEFX.
in 1984, it could have been efx.com on the Internet.

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