The Best Defense is a Good Offense
Last week, I came across an interesting blog post at Domain Name Wire, titled "Defensive Domains Registered for Miami Casino Fight." According to the article, "Casinos may be on their way to sunny Miami, and Las Vegas Sands corporation is going on the defensive when it comes domain registrations." From the number and type of domains registered, including over three dozen defensive domains, it looks like the Las Vegas Sands corporation is getting ready to enter the Miami market.
The executives and marketing leaders of the Las Vegas Sands truly understand how to protect one's brand and reputation online. The proactive (offensive) registration of SayNoToSands.com, KeepTheVenetianOut.com, and SayNoToAdelson.com (Sheldon Adelson, CEO of Las Vegas Sands) are key domain properties that will limit the messaging from those opposing their casinos. This practice of Defensive domain registration has been common with most Fortune 500 companies and is a wise strategy for even the smallest of businesses to follow.
Basics of Defensive Domain Registrations:
This type of registration is designed to protect third parties from registering exact matches and/or variations of a company's valuable trademarks. Some registrations may also include common typing errors (typos) of their brands and domain names, as well as, popular 'negative' keywords typically used to attack a company (like the word 'sucks'). Just as important would be registration of the same domain in multiple country-code Top-Level domains (ccTLDs), even if the company doesn't even have a presence in that country yet.
Defensive Registrations Protect You From:
Cybersquatters: People who intentionally register a corporate trademark in an attempt to extort a payment from the trademark holder or profit from website traffic generated from customers of the trademark holder.
Typosquatters: By registering common misspellings of a company's trademarks the resulting web traffic is monetized. Examples would be similar to Starbuckss.com or Facebok.com. Intelligently, Starbucks and Facebook proactively registered these typo domains long ago.
Homographic Domain Names: These are designed to exploit the visual resemblance, or near resemblance of certain characters and symbols. For example, one could easily mistake the domain name Google.com for G00gle.com (using the number zero). Again, fortunately, Google has already locked up this registration.
Anti-sites: This is a website that is designed to attack a company or organization. For example, there may be an irate customer or disgruntled employee who is on a mission to defame a company. For example, ABC-Companysucks.com or StopABC-Company.com These anti-sites are becoming more prevalent these days.
An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure:
Proactive registration of these types of domains is your best defense. Though there are dispute resolution protocols to go after cybersquatters, typosquatters, etc., often litigation is required and thus very costly. Comparatively, a defensive registration may only cost a few dollars a year.
Some registries even make it easy to protect one's brand, for example, .XXX domains. Although primarily intended for companies operating in the adult entertainment industry, the registry operator, ICM, established a special type of defensive registration called Sunrise B. Trademark holders using Sunrise B prevent others from registering their domain and is blocked from live use on the Internet. At HEXONET, .XXX pre-registrations for Sunrise B have been very popular among our corporate clients.
Protecting Your Brand in 2013 and Beyond:
Starting in 2013, many new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) will be coming to market. It is predicted that hundreds of new gTLDs will flood the market in the years to come. What are brand and trademark holders supposed to do?
It doesn't make sense to defensively register every new TLD that comes to market. Conversely it doesn't make sense to not register any. Here are important questions to ask when evaluating a defensive registration:
- What are the company's most important brands/trademarks?
- What markets or areas of expansion are planned? Any new countries?
- Are language specific brands and trademarks important to protect (securing IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) versions of their trademarks)?
- If you currently have some defensive registrations what are the current metrics for those domains, and do the numbers justify registering more?
Many of HEXONET's resellers currently offer corporate domain name management services to their clients. Through HEXONET, resellers are able to access hundreds of TLDs/ccTLDs. HEXONET will also offer pre-registration services for many of the new gTLDs. Please be sure to check out our website for the latest news and information.