CERN, where the web was born (www.cern.ch), was unfortunately a little lax in acquiring the domain names one would expect it to have, such as cern.org, cern.int, and so on. It so happens that cern.org was registered to a company in Texas. The following conversation took place when Robert Cailliau of CERN phoned Texas Traders to see if they would sell the name.
"Texas Traders, good morning!"
"Good morning, I'm calling from CERN in Switzerland, and I have a question about your website."
"Sure, let's see how I can help you."
"Well, when I go to cern.org, I end up on your site, but your business is not cern.org."
"No, that's right."
"So why is this?"
"Well, I don't know about Switzerland, but in the States these names are for sale, so we bought a whole bunch of them some time ago."
"I see. Is it possible to get that name?"
"Yes, we'll sell it to you."
"Ah. How much?"
"Just a second...lemme see...OK: for $500 it's yours!"
"Do you have a discount for educational institutions?"
"No, $500 is the lowest I can go."
"OK. You realise that the business you're doing is actually largely due to us inventing the web?"
"But we have been in this business for over three years now!"
"Right, and we invented it in 1990."
"Really?...I think there is some problem with our connection. I'll get back to you. Can I have your contact details?"
Cailliau gave his details and waited a couple of days. Texas Traders, of course, had thought that he was joking. But when they found out he wasn't, they called back and all ended well. CERN now owns cern.org.