As new domain options become available, many businesses are starting to consider how many versions of their name they should actually buy.
Finding one domain name to fit your business can be hard enough – particularly when the ever-popular .com options are often unavailable – but there are even more potential problems now that ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has started to launch hundreds of new extensions.
The move, designed to make it easier for people to get a domain name that is specific and relevant to their business or website purpose, has brought up concerns of more cybersquatting and other questionable practices.
Previously, cybersquatting was limited to only a handful of domain name extensions and name variations. If you used the domain Example.com, for instance, a cybersquatter might try to buy Examples.com, Example.net or some other variation.
The hundreds of new extensions set to come onto the market, however, mean that these cybersquatters could choose to buy domain names like Example.me, Example.company, Example.app or possibly even Example.eg.
The cybersquatter could then try to sell these domain names to you for an even higher price.
While this kind of practise is illegal under international law, the legal process can be long and expensive: costs for a case filed under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy with the World Intellectual Property Organisation start at US$1500, which is a lot more than you would pay for some domain names.
Cybersquatting issues are one of the main reasons many domain name brokers and companies recommend buying variations of your primary domain name straight away. This strategy acts as insurance against the above issues and can work out cheaper in the long run.
But will that mean you have to buy hundreds or even thousands of variations as more extensions become available?
Fortunately that is not the case, particularly if your business has a registered trademark, as North American news company CNBC explains in an article about the domain name expansion.
“Businesses have the option of registering a website that is important to their brand before the top-level domain opens to the public,” CNBC reports.
“For example, Pizza Hut could buy the second-level domain “PizzaHut.pizza,” before the generic domain “.pizza,” opened up to the public.”
Trademark and Internet law experts have been advising businesses to make a list of the most relevant domain name variations so that they can bid for them as soon as the market opens. Small businesses, on the other hand, may find this process expensive.
“While trademarked holders can register Web addresses early with gTLDs relevant to their brand, the cost to do so can add up quickly,” CNBC says.
“The cost for just one Web address during the sunrise period can be (US)$250 or more.”
The release of new domain name extensions has opened up the way for a wide range of different website addresses. But it will be up to individual businesses to decide how much money to invest in all the domain name variations that come with this online change.