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Are Defensive Domain Name Registrations a Myth?

March 2, 2010defensive registrations, Domaining, Domainnamewire, new tlds, Policy & LawComments Off on Are Defensive Domain Name Registrations a Myth?

Study sheds light on how many brand managers register domain names defensively.

Minds + Machines, which offers services to new top level domain name applicants, has released a new study showing how brands register their domain names in newer top level domain names.

The report’s authors certainly have a motivation to push new TLDs forward, but so far this is the most conclusive and detailed report I’ve seen on the subject of defensive registrations. I’d welcome a similar study from trademark interests.

A defensive registration is when a brand owner registers a domain name to keep it out of the hands of others, rather than with the intention of using the domain. Minds + Machines found that only 29% of the 1043 brands owned by the Fortune 100 companies were registered in “newer” top level domain names.

If you exclude some of the nascent TLDs, such as .cat and .travel, the number is closer to 40%-60%. .Info and .biz are a bit higher.

The study considered a domain registered regardless of whom owned it (the company or a possible cybersquatter).

On a new TLD panel I moderated during Domainer Mardi Gras, Demand Media VP Jeffrey Eckhaus noted that most brands won’t need to register names in many of the TLDs. For example, Verizon doesn’t need to register Verizon.shoes.

On the other hand, attorney Mike Rodenbaugh noted that Nike might feel compelled to register dozens of its brand names in .shoes.

Trademark holders have legitimate concerns about protecting their brands in domain names. It’s not just protection from cybersquatting, but also phishing. I believe a number of new TLD applicants have part of their business plan to earn significant money through inflated prices during the trademark sunrise period. At the same time, most of these companies are worrying about what might be rather than protecting their brands in existing TLDs.

But the bottom line is that newer TLDs get little to no type-in traffic. And with little traffic, there’s not much for brand manager to worry about.


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