EXPERT ADVICE

Good Riddance to Cybersquatters

The current anti-cybersquatting model of preregistering 25,000 domain name combinations to surround a master brand name identity and avoid possible cybersquatting will slowly fade away.

Cybersquatting came about due to the original easy access of no-questions-asked, cheap domain name registrations. New gTLDs are not as open as “.net,” “.info,” “.biz” or “.me” but are rather closed and more specific, like “.London,” “.music” or “.deloitte.”

The old mentality of first-come, first-served domain registration has to be discarded. The new era of the US$500K gTLD, based on an ironclad name identity with months of strategy and proposals to achieve success, is not your typical cybersquatter’s dream.

Vanishing Incentives

In a post gTLD market, say in the case of “.rice,” why would some squatters register “ibm.rice” or “google.rice”? They may fancy “ben.rice” or “uncle.rice” to encroach on Uncle Ben’s rice brand.

Dictionary-based brand names like “united.rice” or “national.rice” will have their own issues. What would squatters achieve? What recourse would holders have under the UDRP? In the case of “.inn,” some may try for “holiday.inn,” or in the case of “.airline,” it might be tempting to try “delta.airline” or “gulf.airline.” Here the bigger question is why invest $500K and months to acquire “.airline”? Where is the real monetization of such a root in the first place?

Should all Fortune 500 companies rush and block hundreds of new gTLDs en masse? No. However, some special name combinations may require serious defensive work. In most cases, genuine squatting can be dealt with as routine encroachment and resolved using URDP and other existing legal mechanisms.

Marketing Cartwheels

On the other hand, major dot-brand gTLDs are for internal and controlled subregistrations. They would not be open to first-come public offerings, and therefore it would make no sense for IBM to plan advance purchase of “ibm.canon,” as Canon, owner of its own gTLD “.canon,” would have no incentive to sell such a registration to a cybersquatter, or to anyone else for that matter, in the absence of a partnership deal with another brand.

Under these selective and more regulated situations, even thousands of dot-brand gTLDs will not open the floodgates to cybersquatters but will rather create a healthy and respectful environment for dot-brands to co-exist under their own umbrella of name identity, and perform their advanced marketing stunts.

Notable Exceptions

However, generic name gTLDs clashing with generic name based dot-brands will create a thick, confusing alpha-soup. Currently all eyes are on “.xxx.” Why would anyone apply for “microsoft.xxx”? What would that achieve? While “apple.xxx,” “monster.xxx,” “national.xxx,” or “virgin.xxx” combinations might suggest interesting connotations, once again it seems that generic brand name owners are more exposed and vulnerable than distinct word name owners like PlayStation or Rolex.

The new gTLD roots will create new choices and options to fertilize new cyber name brands, while millions of new name combinations will invite new and serious registrations more so than disruptive cybersquatting. The curtain rises.

Naseem Javed, founder of ABC Namebank, is currently helping corporations on ICANN's new gTLD cyberplatforms and lecturing on new nomenclature frontiers and global cyberbranding. He is also conducting series of exclusive webinars on how to evaluate and achieve iconic name status worldwide.

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