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End of Cybersquatting? The gTLD Advantage

The current anti-cyber-squatting model of pre-registering 25,000 domain name combinations to surround a master brand name identity and avoid possible cyber squatting may slowly lose its value. Cyber squatting came about due to the original easy access of ‘no questions asked, few dollar domain name registrations.’ New gTLDs are not as open as .net .info, .biz or .me but rather closed and more specific, like, dot London, dot music, or dot deloitte. The old mentality of the first come, no questions asked few dollar domain has to be selectively forgotten. The new era of gTLD, $500K based on an iron clad name identity with months of strategy and proposals to achieve success are not your typical cyber squatter’s dream.

In a post gTLD market, say in case of dot 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 would holders and URDP do? In case of dot inn, some may try for holiday.inn or in case of dot airline, it would easy to try delta.airline or gluf.airline. Here the bigger question is why invest $500K and months to acquire dot airline? Where is the real monetization of such a root in the first place?

Irrespectively, should all Fortune 500 companies rush and block hundreds of new gTLDs en masse? No, but however some special name combinations may require serious defensive work. In most cases, genuine squatting can be defended as passing off and be dealt as routine encroachment and be resolved using URDP and normal existing legal mechanisms.

On the other hand, major dot brand generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) are for internal and controlled sub registrations, they would not be open to first come public offerings and therefore it makes no sense for IBM to plan advance purchase of ibm.canon, as Canon, owner of their own gTLD dot canon, unless mutually agreed between two brands, would have no incentive to sell such a registration to a cyber squatter or to anyone else for that matter. Under these selective and more regulated situations, even thousands of dot brand gTLDs would not open a flood gate of cyber squatting but 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.

However, generic name gTLDs clashing with generic name based dot brands will create a thick, confusing alpha-soup. Currently the eyes are on .xxx. Why someone would apply for microsoft.xxx? What would this achieve? While apple.xxx, monster.xxx, national.xxx, or virgin.xxx type combinations have 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 open floodgates of new and serious registrations more so than just simply disruptive cyber-squatting. The curtain rises.

By Naseem Javed, Expert: Global Naming Complexities, Corporate Nomenclature, Image & Branding

He is the founder of ABC Namebank, author of ‘Domination: The GTLD Name Game’, syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and specialist on global naming complexities.

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