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Although I don't doubt that snooping occurs, it would appear that your desired domain was not as "obscure" as you had originally thought. Even if they had watched your searches, they would not be interested unless they thought there was enough demand to justify a purchase and/or resale attempt.
It is just for that reason that I don't search.
I just type in the domain in my browser and if I get a server not found I go for the registration. Only had one rejected in the past year or so.
> I often do a "who is" search for domains >that I'm interested in to see if they are >taken. If "snooping" is possible, I think >that this approach is probably more "under >the radar".
I guess that would also depend upon your whois method. I'm sure that some registrars that offer Whois searches on their site keep track of what domain names are checked, and how often. Perhaps direct Core or Internic inquiries are more reliable?
My cousin had this happen to him; he looked up a very uncommon term (the name of his company) and didn't register it within 24 hours; then he came back a few days later and it had been registered by someone else, who had put up a page on the domain saying that it was for sale. It wasn't a problem since he owns the trademark for that name and after sending that registered owner a cease and desist letter they promptly turned it over to my cousin. But who really wants to hassle with this? It DID cost him some money to hire a lawyer to write the letter.
All I can say is that if you look up a name and it's available and there's a good chance that you'll need to use that name then go ahead and register it ASAP before someone else takes it.