Cybersquatter influx expected with release of new domains

The idea to expand domain names will come to fruition later this year with the release of specialized Web addresses that include suffixes like .law and .insurance. The majority of domains available in California and worldwide currently have .com, .org and other familiar endings. 

Many companies are concerned that 1,900 new Internet domains will open new doors for cybersquatting. Businesses are also worried domain disputes and trademark protection costs will skyrocket.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers hope the additional suffixes have positive effects by making it easy for consumers to locate websites.  ICANN accepted applications until last year with plans to release new generic domains within the next few months. 

Applications for generic domains were expensive ventures compared to .com registries. Each application cost $185,000. New website set ups for the top-level domains may run in the millions of dollars.

Companies may object to applications until March 22. Microsoft is among companies that have complained about potential domain monopolies. 

Cybersquatters also may be gearing up to take advantage of the new suffixes. A company called Donuts Inc. spent $100 million to apply for over 300 generic domains. Some critics have charged that Donuts is in cahoots with Demand Media, which has been accused of repeated cybersquatting for profit.

Cybersquatting was outlawed in 1999, although the illegal practice still exists. The new domains create a fresh opportunity for domain name buyers with only resale profits in mind.

Demand holds a patent that allows the company to buy up web addresses at a bulk rate. Among those addresses could be typosquats, domain names that are one or two typographical mistakes away from an established trademark domain. 

The companies accepted by ICANN for the generic domains will manage the addresses they own, adding another layer of difficulty for businesses trying to enforce trademark protection.  Intellectual property attorneys can help businesses plan effective brand protection strategies.

Source: forbes.com, “Cybersquatters Get Rich New Territories With Generic Domains,” Daniel Fisher, Feb. 14, 2013