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.YourBrand Now!

The time is now to make sure your brand makes it onto the list of new top-level domain names.

Brand owners should immediately start re-enforcing your brands by promoting “.Your Brand” as a top-level domain (TLD) extension. You must implement the strategy through a two-stage process: free ride on pre-launch discussions and submit your application request with ICANN during the application period.

Talk up “.YourBrand” as a TLD extension by free riding on conferences and blog discussions, and make sure you’re included on informational sites that list potential applicants for the expected launch of new TLDs. By doing all this, you are sending a signal that you listen to your customers, that you are an early adopter of technology, and that you are proactive.

Meanwhile, get ready to submit your request for a “.YourBrand” when ICANN begins its application period. Remember that being approved for the TLD does not obligate you to use it in branding. Your final branding decision should be based on additional information that becomes available over time. But TLD status of your brand name grants you a valuable option. For example, when other brand owners, especially competitors, start using dot-brand as a marketing tool, it puts pressure on you to do so too. Without a successful TLD application, you won’t be ready with the tool you need to reinforce your brand. Instead you’ll have to wait at least a year before the second round of new TLDs is launched.

I am advocating a branding strategy for the to be launched new TLD extensions that is independent of the viability of defensive domain name registrations to protect your brand names. As with new generic TLD applicants, you must start your marketing campaign now.

By Alex Tajirian, CEO at DomainMart

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Trademark Registration & Defensive Registraitons Enrico Schaefer  –  Nov 2, 2010 6:54 PM

Of course, there is a ‘a lot’ of commentary about the to advisability of ICANN’s new gTLD roll out.  .anything could be .weather, .cars or a brand like .microsoft. The ability to become a registry for a new gTLD on “.yourbrand” is a virtual certainty at this point.  Trademark holders will continue to push back against ICANN but it will not stop the expansion of gTLDs.  For those that take your advice and grab their trademark as a .brand, they will be in total control of registrations. For those that don’t have the funds, technical resources or inclination to grab their brand as a new gTLD, they will be left to protect their marks on-line through defensive domain registrations, trademark registration, trademark infringement threat letters, cybersquatting lawsuits and UDRP-style arbitration.

The reality is that trademark holders can not hold back the continued expansion of TLDs, nor will doing so solve their trademark problems. If the potential for abuse were a key criteria for creating new internet technologies, we would not even have the TCP/IP at all.  Trademark protection and diligence is simply the cost of doing business.

Enrico,Glad to hear that you are more Alex Tajirian  –  Nov 3, 2010 4:51 PM

Enrico, Glad to hear that you are more concerned about protection costs than most lawyers.

The reality is that trademark holders can not hold back the continued expansion of TLDs, nor will doing so solve their trademark problems.
I agree that the expansion comes with a high cost to brand owners, especially that ICANN has failed in trying to own the problem. However, I am not sure that brand owners necessarily want to hold back the expansion. The signaling value of brand, location, and industry-related TLDs can be huge, especially with a more aggressive ICANN responsibility and action on trademark protection. On the other hand, my .brand argument is a proactive value adding rather than a defensive/protectionist strategy.
For those that don't have the funds, technical resources or inclination to grab their brand as a new gTLD, they will be left to protect their marks on-line
To reduce the unreasonable costs to brand owners, ICANN could have adopted a multi-tier pricing, whereby global brand/trademark owners would be required to pay lower ICANN (and third-party application-assistance) fees to re-enforce their brands than applicants for generic TLDs. On their part, brand owners can simply choose to forward the .brand to, say, their main site, which, as in domain-name forwarding, costs less. Forwarding will also reduce the need to allocate technical resources.

Logical Next Step John Berryhill  –  Nov 3, 2010 8:46 PM

I remain an agnostic on a lot of the aspects of new TLDs, but I owe Joe Alagna credit for the simplest and most compelling case for .brand TLDs that I have heard yet.

The way Joe put it was to recall the very earliest days of commercialization of the internet.  When some companies first became interested in electronic communications of any sort, they would sign up for accounts with CompuServe or AOL and print .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on their promotional materials as their address.  Joe told me that it took a fair amount of persuasion to convince companies to register their own domain names, and to stop inadvertent cross-promotion of AOL, CompuServe, etc. every time they used such email addresses in advertising material.

Joe was right, and eventually, one would look oddly upon the .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) addresses and wonder why they didn’t have .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

It may be that the same logic applies here.  When you see a company using, say, a “.biz”, is your first thought, “I guess they couldn’t get the .com”?  I don’t know the extent to which TLD selection influences consumer perception, but Joe may well be right that as some companies obtain and use .brand, thus taking complete control of their cyber-identity, the same sort of perception may come to apply to one more step to the right of the dot.

Enrico, John:We agree on the end result Alex Tajirian  –  Nov 5, 2010 4:28 PM

Enrico, John:

We agree on the end result for .brand TLDs.

If my math is correct, we will end up with more than 1,000 new TLD applications, which is over the technical limit that ICANN has suggested.

Thanks for your comments.

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