The two plaintiffs, one of whom is a patent attorney, claim that their patent covers the process of assigning group email addresses by replacing the '@' sign with a period. They are seeking monetary damages and an injunction against further infringement, CNET reported. Although they have also revealed that they are seeking to license the patent's function to the registrars.
The plaintiff's company, Nizza Group, was granted the patent by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in December of 2003.
In a statement released by the company at the time the patent was issued, a description of the patent's function was described as assigning a member of an email group both the email address of the group and their own individual email address, for example, jane.group.com as well as the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
The infringement suit against Network Solutions and Register.com was filed in the U.S. District Court in California and accuses Network Solutions and Register.com of selling the rights to third-level URLs and email addresses that infringe on their patents, CNET reports.
Email URLs that use the period instead of the '@' sign are considered third-level domains.
The patent holders are members of the group that launched the .md domain name in the United States. They also founded EveryMD, Inc., an online interface for doctors.
According to CNET, the plaintiffs are considering an infringement suit against Global Name Registry, the owner of third-level domains that use a period in the URL.
"We are particularly excited about the future uses of this naming patent," one of the patent holders said in a statement. "There is real value in having URL's and email addresses match, and diverse groups ranging from individual families to large professional organizations will benefit from such a convenient, intuitive naming system."
Nizza Group is also waiting on a series of patent applications that cover "novel internet addressing and communications technologies."