While the imminent arrival of more than a thousand new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has stoked concerns that cybersquatting will skyrocket, a new report analyzing 2012 domain dispute trends indicates America’s big brands have their hands full dealing with existing domains like .com.
The “Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services’ (DBS) Report” — which analyzed domain dispute data from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), shows that .com was the domain most recovered from cybersquatters by brands, with more than 3,475 domain names — nearly triple the number of disputes in all other gTLDs combined. The first full year of operation for the .xxx domain yielded only 16 disputes filed with WIPO.
‘The domain industry and America’s big brands have been looking for evidence to shed light on the predictions that the arrival of potential new gTLDs such as .web, .home and .sucks will drive cybersquatting to new highs, and the first year of .xxx has been closely watched as an indicator,” says Melbourne IT DBS Executive Vice President Martin Burke.
“Some will be quick to point out that 16 cases 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,” he adds. “What is more compelling is that .com accounts for 68% 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.”
However, Melbourne IT DSB — which helps organizations manage, protect and optimize online brands to maximize the value of online assets — agrees with trademark holders that it is likely cybersquatting cases will occur at the second level of new gTLDs. It’s imperative that brands prepare now by considering which trademarks will need to be registered in ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse and by developing their domain registration strategy for both protecting and promoting their brands in the new domains.