The ever expanding universe of domain names is certainly a nuisance for business owners. But given the situation, is it better to try to register domain name extensions like .BIZ, .US, and now .CO? Or on principal, knowing that an owner of such a domain matching your brand name would like be infringing or cybersquatting, should brand owners abstain from given money to the domain registrars and use appropriate legal channels when necessary if the domain names are used to cause confusion?
Someone who will no doubt make a lot of money has now taken the .CO country code and now launched it for private business use. The theory is apparently that because it is so close to .COM that just by sheer accident and typos owners of .CO domain names may get a lot of traffic. Of course, this reasoning is troubling to trademark owners as the very premise of the commercialization of the .CO domain seems to cause and/or profit from potential confusion – potential trademark confusion. Google.co no doubt will receive thousands of visitors a day just by accident. What about your domain names?
My general advice is that because the cost of a domain name registration is far less than the cost of dealing with a cybersquatter or infringer using the domain, trademark owners are well served by purchasing a reasonable number of domain variations on their main trademarks (i.e. different extensions, different spellings/spacings/hyphens). I say a reasonable number because the possibilities are almost limitless. The cost of a letter from an attorney, or a UDRP arbitration, or a domain name purchase from a cybersquatter is generally many times the price of the domain name registration for an available domain name. While the purchase a few variations is an upfront nuisance cost, it is insurance against having to spend far more to deal with a potential infringer or cybersquatter. And at $10 or $20 per year per domain, the cost of the insurance is far less than the cost of dealing with the action the insurance aims to prevent (the filing fees for filing a UDRP action are a minimum of $1500) – not to mention the potential harm to your brand that could result from a cybersquatter or competitor causing or benefiting from domain name confusion.
So, presuming the cost of .CO domains is somewhat reasonable (admittedly purchasing these knowing that someone else purchasing them would likely be an infringer makes it unreasonable on principal but, as described above, practically reasonable) I advise purchasing a handful that correlate most closely with your core brands and trademarks. In particular, owners of a descriptive trademark (i.e. “New York Pizza”) will benefit the most because winning a UDRP may not be so easy and because it is far more likely that others will seek to own and use the correlating .CO domain name.
If you decide that .CO domain name is appropriate for your business, .CO domains will be made available via the following timeline:
- April 1, 2010 – April 20, 2010: Sunrise A will allow registered Colombian trademarks to apply for exact match domains.
- April 26, 2010 – June 10, 2010: Sunrise B will allow trademarks of national effect to apply for exact match domains.
- June 21, 2010 – July 13, 2010: Landrush will allow anyone to apply for domain names of high commercial value.
- July 20, 2010: .CO domains will become generally available.
Sunrise B allows for US registered trademark owners to sign up to register .CO domains matching registered trademarks before the domain registration opens to the general public after June 10th.
What will you do? Feel free to share your opinion in the comments.
© 2010 Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.