It comes as no surprise to us that the launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) has created a robust opportunity for cybersquatting – the bad-faith registration and use of domain names confusingly similar to existing trademarks.
In fact, the rollout of new gTLDs has been accompanied by a steady stream of media coverage about cybersquatting in open top-level domains, such as .CLOTHING and .GURU.
The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) – a service designed specifically to protect trademarks in the new Internet space – reported that 75 percent of brands have formally objected to third-party registrations, according to World IP Review. And brands should expect the pattern to continue: World IP Review reported that third parties attempted to pre-register 98 percent of the world’s most valuable brands in the new gTLD .WEB and 96 percent in the new gTLD .ONLINE.
New gTLDs can offer brands and Internet users new platforms for innovative business ideas and, in the case of .BRANDs and certain .GENERICs, increased security and the guarantee of authentic content. But it’s clear that cybersquatting, already a scourge in the existing .COM world, will continue to be an affliction in the .EVERYTHING world.
So how to combat it? Brands must educate themselves on how to monitor cybersquatting, how to pursue action if necessary, and how to keep their customers from falling victim to online scams. Internet users, too, must educate themselves and practice caution, such as navigating only to domain names that have been clearly advertised, that you trust, or that are trusted by people you trust.
CADNA’s goal is to make the Internet experience safe and rewarding for everyone. For more information, visit our online resources.