Domain name disputes have been the subject of substantial litigation, legislative action, and scholarly debate over the course of the past fifteen years. Much of the debate is the product of disagreement concerning whether trademark rights naturally extend into the domain name space and to what extent those rights are limited by principles of free speech. Gripe sites are paradigmatic examples of this debate. Society’s investment in defining these rights continues to grow, even as the relevance of domain names may be declining, due to: (1) changes in the way users locate content on the Internet; (2) the growth of social media and its consequent de-emphasis on top level domain names; and (3) the dilution of the domain name space.
Jude A. Thomas, Fifteen Years of Fame: The Declining Relevance of Domain Names in the Enduring Conflict Between Trademark and Free Speech Rights, 11 J. Marshall Rev. Intell. Prop. L. 1 (2011)