Innovation Asset Blog

Web domains stirring trademark controversy

Companies around the world have been carefully interpreting how the continued influx of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) may affect their respective online presence. According to the latest research from digital branding specialists at Melbourne IT DBS, larger firms should be careful not to let their trademark management strategies wander too far from traditional .com domains, however.

After reviewing the data made available by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), researchers found that nearly 3,500 .com domains had to be recovered from cybersquatters in 2012. That figure is approximately three times as much as all other domain formats combined.

"Some will be quick to point out that 16 cases (involving .xxx domains) show the fears are just hype, but that ignores the fact that around 80,000 trademarks were registered in .xxx to protect brands before the gTLD even went live," said Melbourne IT DBS executive vice president Martin Burke. "What is more compelling is that .com accounts for 68 percent of WIPO domain disputes, and in our view that percentage is likely to remain high once the new gTLDs arrive, meaning the biggest problem for brands is actually one they are already having to deal with."

While corporate trademark management teams must remain diligent, there are at least a few marketplace protections already working in their favor. According to Reuters, cybersquatters may be deterred by the relative of expense of registration, as well as the fact that only a portion of their initial application fee will be refunded if authorities ultimately revoke their domain claim.

Peter Ackerman

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.