EXPERT ADVICE

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad gTLD?

When a good name identity is super-glazed with a good trademark protection plan, there is no reason why it would be hurt by ICANN’s gTLD. Executives at companies with great names like “Google,” “Sony,” “Panasonic,” “Rolex,” “Microsoft” or “CNN” are not losing sleep over gTLD, but those at some other mega corporations of the world, with names like “United,” “National,” “Star,” “Total,” “Union,” “Monster,” “Metro” or “General” are scrambling to find refuge and declaring gTLD a new major threat.

Typically, when a name’s alpha structure is too weak to be distinct — diluted by hundreds of identical or similar names — it becomes incapable of withstanding scrutiny. It hangs in limbo; it just co-exists. Companies with such names can neither enforce their rights nor stop others from using the same name.

Tens of millions of big businesses around the world have names in limbo. They feel torn between the historic pride in their own name and its odd struggle. Often, they do not have unlimited budgets to declare all-out trademark wars. Most names in use today would not qualify to be trademarked under any serious global plan.

Cutting Through the Fog

A quick review of a global trade directory in any industry sector will provide glaring proof of massive duplication. Companies with good name identities have nothing to fear. On the other hand, those with diluted and poorly structured names should not complain about gTLD but rather conduct internal name evaluation reviews. They should boldly explore the burden of confusion in the marketplace and figure out long-term, winning solutions.

Such name evaluation reports are often used as power plays in internal corporate political maneuvering.

However, it’s possible that a breakaway gTLD may easily encircle and choke a powerful established brand by the power of its new name personality for being too appealing, innovative and fiercely competitive. For this reason alone, established brands should review their current name identity position and carefully weigh against possible competitive new name identity adjustments.

Corporate nomenclature challenges are the most dramatic issues at this junction and especially for any dot brand application. The legal profession has a rare opportunity to introduce some powerful logic into corporate boardrooms and replace weak trademark portfolios with solid Five Star Standard of Naming solutions.

Brand New Game

There are three serious questions for boardrooms: First, if the current name is clearly not available for global use, then why is the corporation still struggling to create a global presence? Second, at what point will the corporation bite the bullet and make a decision to solve this most critical issue? Last, what will be the magical solution?

Like the change to global marketing and branding caused by the invention of the domain name system, the next wave of gTLD will be sweeping, but it will be many times more powerful and dramatic.

The winners and the losers of the new game will be easily identifiable — but unlike the early domain name game, winning this one will require some ultra-classy, sophisticated maneuvers.

Naseem Javed

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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