Study Suggests That Trademark Owners Need Not Worry About New gTLDs

A recent study released by Minds + Machines indicates that big brand owners need not worry about rampant cybersquatting should the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) launch its program for new generic top level domain names (“gTLD”). I recently reported on ICANN’s plans to create new gTLDs here.

Minds + Machines' study reports that “Overall, the claims of brand owners that they will be forced to spend significant amounts of money performing defensive registrations in the proposed new gTLDs are not supported by the historical data, which shows that they largely do not undertake defensive registrations in new gTLDs, nor is there any extensive cybersquatting in new gTLDs.”

I cannot recall the last time that I had a client call or complain about a cybersquatter using its trademark or phonetically similar trademark with one of the more obscure gTLDs (i.e., .travel, .jobs). Why? My thoughts are that there is likely not any reason for the average consumer to visit most gTDLs. Would the average consumer think to type in when searching for Xerox’s web site? Of course not. If that's  the case, then why would cybersquatters care to reserve domain names that don't generate web traffic and revenue?

Now it must be said that Minds + Machines is not a neutral party in this debate. Rather it stands to gain by the creation of a new gTLD system.

What do you think? Would ICANN’s creation of a new gTLD system cause the majority of trademark owners to defensively reserve useless domain names at exorbitant costs? Or would they tend to be selective in only those new gTLDs that become generally popular among businesses and Internet users?

To read Minds + Machines' full report, it can be accessed here.

Stay tuned for my next post about Seth Godin and his take on intellectual property.  Really Seth, are you joking me?