The story on Money CNN blares out a warning to businesses regarding their company names and trademarks being stolen by nefarious domainers. Ahem. This is old news. Any company who has some decent value will already know about how to protect their trademarks online by preventing or fighting to recapture domain names that describe their trademarks. It’s a no-brainer. An ICANN UDRP can be filed for about $1,500, which is an inexpensive way to gain control rightfully of a domain. However, many large corporations with mammoth legal teams see the tactical advantage of just suing a domainer and burying them in legal bills.
Think about it. You have a domain that a large online company can claim infringes on their trademark. The sad thing is that words and phrases that incorporate a multitude of different meanings can be attacked by company law dogs and stolen from innocent domain owners. Take the domain “ROSEBAY.COM.” It’s a community in Florida. Ebay can claim that the owners of the domain “rosebay.com” are infringing on their trademark. This can be very problematic to anyone trying to buy a domain WITHOUT the intent of infringing on eBay’s trademark. Anyway, this isn’t the main thrust of my post here.
The real fright for business is if they lose the domain name that generically describes their product or service. I thought the CNN article was going to focus on that. Stupid me. It’s just a rehash of old fears about bad domainers sucking income off of TM domains. The article, predictably, had nothing to do with pointing out to businesses that if your competitor buys the generic keyword descriptive domains of your products and services, your company is screwed online. How can you compete if you sell “galvanized steel tubing” and one of your competitors owns that descriptive domain? http://www.galvanizedsteeltubing.com then points to their website, and anyone who decides to type that phrase into their browser search bar comes to your competitor’s website. Don’t laugh, because over 20% of internet users look for “legitimate websites” by typing in the domain phrase of the search subject they’re interested in.
The big worry for businesses isn’t really rogue domainers registering similar or typo domains that might infringe on their trademarks. Those can usually be easily resolved at ICANN with a cheap UDRP filing. However, losing to a competitor a domain name that describes your product or service, that’s something your company can never recover from, and it permanently places your company at a disadvantage online.
If your marketing director doesn’t realize this by now, fire him and hire someone who does. Every day your company doesn’t own the generic domains of your products and services is a day your company could find itself “face down in a dumpster” online, so to speak. Ouch.