A no-name in Chicago protects Web names
October 11, 2004
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
Lunching at Chicago's
Atwood Cafe, David Maher looks like any customer. No one knows
his name. You wouldn't expect the 70-year-old Maher, born and
raised in Kenwood, to be an Internet legend who jets across continents
to settle controversies and establish policies surrounding Internet
a recovering trademark lawyer," jokes Maher, who's a retired
partner with Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Ten years ago
this month, Maher counseled McDonald's when Wired mag- azine writer
Josh Quittner published an article claiming title to the McDonalds.com
Internet domain name. After Maher's intervention, Quittner offered
to yield title to McDonald's in return for a charitable contribution.
opened Maher's eyes to the need for a set of rules to guide the
wild and wooly Internet. As a result, Maher's behind-the-scenes
imprint can be found on most of the rules that govern the management
of Internet domain names.
meet a pioneer
In 1995, Maher
set off to meet Jon Postel, a technology pioneer who controlled
the burgeoning Internet from his lab at the University of Southern
know anything about trademark law," Maher says. "I told
him he ought to study up, because the trademark/domain name issue
was becoming serious." Following the briefing, Postel appointed
Maher to the International Ad Hoc Committee that evaluated the
problem. The rest is history.
Maher's efforts, companies like Coca-Cola, Nike and Kodak no longer
must payoff cyber squatters who register famous brand names as
domain names and seek a king's ransom.
is a household name in the halls of ICANN (the Internet Corporation
for Assigned Names and Numbers), which determines what organizations
manage the registration of the Internet's top level domains: .com,
.net, .org, .info, .biz, .name and .pro.
He can recite
the history of the Internet from memory because he lived it.
At a time
in life when most successful trademark lawyers spend their days
playing golf, Maher commutes twice monthly to Reston, Va., where
he's senior vice president for law and policy at the Public Interest
Registry, which manages the .org domain. He'll shortly attend
the next ICANN meeting, which debates, among other things, whether
the United Nations should assume control of the Internet.
arrives in Cape Town, South Africa, everyone there will know his
is, this fellow who's done so much to protect our rights to names
online isn't a very big name in his own hometown.
I'm not sure
that's fair, but Maher doesn't seem to mind.
focus on tap
the University of Chicago's Robert Rosenberg reconvenes the Chicago
Tech Forum series at the Gleacher Center. The focus is on AgriBiotech.
Speakers include Ron Meeusen, vice president for research at Dow
AgroScience, and Roger Wyse, managing director at Burrill &
Co. Meeusen is a commercial leader in the field, while Wyse is
a key AgriBiotech venture capitalist.
often we think of biotech as developing new drugs," says
Rosenberg, who believes that AgriBiotech includes food science
and new fuels. That field might be a larger opportunity for Chicago
entrepreneurs than traditional pharmaceuticals.
(the industry trade show coming here) is an opportunity to highlight
AgriBiotech in what is largely a traditional drug-oriented show."
It's an area
where the "Midwest has a real lead," Rosenberg adds.
Coalition hosts its Monday Morning meeting today at the Evanston
Hilton. New tech start-up presenters include Arnab Mallik,
president of Bio Integrated Solutions, an integrated liquid-handling-solutions
provider; Bakhtiar Hafeez, CEO Collatus, a Web communications
company; Sam Mele, president, Firm58, a trading operations
applications developer, and Andy Parker, CEO, HubTack Inc.,
which focuses on solutions for land surveyors. ARCH Development
managing partner Tom Churchwell moderates.
Wheels Inc. makes the InformationWeek 500 list of most
innovative tech users.
CEO of ePrize, talks eMarketing Thursday at Maggiano's courtesy
of the American Marketing Association.
Michael Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.