To new gTLD or not to new gTLD…

In the past two years, more than 20 million new gTLDs have been registered. We’ve seen the launch of domains that have the potential to be great, and others that just make you want to cringe. Before the new gTLD program, brand owners were urged to protect all of their digital assets in the newest TLD regardless of its relevancy to the brand; now that there are thousands of domains, that advice is sheer lunacy.

The unfortunate consequence of so many domains launching is that many brand owners have comprehensively buried their heads in the sand, facing what they perceive as a tsunami of expense that could consume their entire budget. As a result, I’ve witnessed an explosion of cyber-squatting against some of the world’s largest brands, which could have been prevented if a targeted approach to brand protection had been applied.

So many of my customers today have a number of domains registered in one of many new gTLDs by people who for all intents and purposes have no reason to possess that domain. These customers are now faced with two relatively expensive options:

  1. Buy the domain name
  2. UDRP

In both of these scenarios, you probably won’t get much change from $10,000. The frustrating thing is that a $2,000 investment would have prevented the situation from occurring in the first place; in fact, you could register about five domains in Sunrise for $10k.

It’s worth having a quick look at the recent domain launch of dotStore. There were about 600 domains registered (to trademark holders) in the Sunrise phase. But by the end of the first day of General Availability, more than 20,000 domains had been registered. Of those, over 30% were registered through a Chinese registrar I’ve seen pop up many times when I find domains that present issues for my clients. I’m sure a good portion of these names have been registered for legitimate purposes, but a worrying number of brands are registered by third parties.

I suggest you do an availability check if you didn’t protect your brand in Sunrise.

Moving forward, I recommend that all brand owners seriously consider formulating a strategy that enables you to protect your domains in the new gTLDs that are relevant to you. If you don’t, someone else most certainly will – except they won’t be protecting your brand.