A new report from Melbourne IT says brands need to prepare to protect their brands as new generic Top Level Domains are introduced, but that their impact will be minimal compared to the efforts required to protect brands in .com.In the report released this week, 2012 domain dispute trends were analysed and indicate the world’s large brands have their hands full dealing with existing domains like .com.The Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services’ (DBS) report used dispute data from the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and shows that .com was the domain most recovered from cybersquatters by brands with more than 3,475 domain names, almost triple the number of disputes in all other gTLDs combined. The first full year of operation for the .xxx domain yielded only 16 disputes filed with WIPO.What the Melbourne IT report does not note though is that while complaints to WIPO have increased 4.2 percent, total registrations of domain names in the year to the end of September increased by 12 percent according to Verisign’s latest Domain Name Industry Brief.But what the Melbourne IT report does note is that “there are also multiple ways of getting a domain suspended, cancelled or recovered from a cybersquatter outside of taking a UDRP action. These include private negotiation through ‘Cease & Desist ‘ letters threatening action , website take – down by a service provider or actually paying the squatter off to recover the name.””The domain industry and global brands have been looking for evidence to shed light on the predictions that the arrival of potential new gTLDs such as .web, .home and .sucks will drive cybersquatting to new highs, and the first year of .xxx has been closely watched as an indicator,” said Melbourne IT DBS Executive Vice President, Martin Burke.”Some will be quick to point out that 16 cases show the fears are just hype, but that ignores the fact that around 80,000 trademarks were registered in .xxx to protect brands before the gTLD even went live. What is more compelling is that .com accounts for 68% of WIPO domain disputes, and in our view that percentage is likely to remain high once the new gTLDs arrive, meaning the biggest problem for brands is actually one they are already having to deal with,” he said.”However, we do agree with trademark holders that it is likely cybersquatting cases will occur at the second level of new gTLDs, so it is imperative brands prepare now by considering which trademarks will need to be registered in ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse and developing their domain registration strategy for both protecting and promoting their brands in the new domains.”The Melbourne IT DBS report and news release is available for download from www.melbourneit.info/news-centre/Releases/cybersquatting-report.xml.
[news release] With fewer than four weeks of ICANN’s official public-comment period for the 1,930 new Top Level Domain applications remaining, online brand specialist Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services (DBS) today urged brands to prioritize the assessment of potential risks and promptly respond before the comment window closes on August 12th.
More than 1,400 unique domain names, or âstrings,’ were applied for among the 1,930 applications for new Top Level Domains (TLDs) announced by ICANN on June 13, including strings such as .shop, .baby, .football, and .home. Melbourne IT CEO, Theo Hnarakis, said while many brands applied for their own trademarks as a new TLD, all organizations need to review and assess all of the submitted applications to see if any of the applications pose a risk to their own brands.
“Every organization has a different risk profile and tolerance level in relation to their brand or online presence and strategy. We urge all brands to identify and carefully examine the top level domain strings which have been applied for that are relevant to their business, then judge whether they pose a business risk and take the opportunity to respond accordingly. For instance, financial institutions will be interested in who has applied for .bank, retailers should examine the applicants for .shop, and hoteliers will take a keen interest in applications for .hotel,” Mr. Hnarakis said.
“It is not necessarily as simple as merely looking at the list and being confident in knowing which brands or entities are applying, and for what string, particularly with applications being accepted in languages other than English for strings using non-Latin characters,” he said.
“With less than a month left to file a comment with ICANN during the public comment phase, the race against the clock has begun. In our experience, few runners are prepared to navigate the track, let alone the hurdles of the new gTLD Applicant Guidebook. There is a very short window for legal teams to wade through thousands of pages of detail to make sense of the data and translate raw facts into astute analysis and an actionable strategy. Time is running out.”
Melbourne IT DBS’s risk-review services offer two options to help quickly analyze published applications and determine risk – within ICANN’s limited 60-day comment window.
Tailored risk reports developed by an experienced Melbourne IT consultant, who analyzes new TLDs for potential risk and provides recommendations – such as whether or not public comments should be posted or whether or not an organization should consider filing a formal objection.
A powerful self-service information database that combines the publicly available ICANN data with proprietary qualitative assessments to help brand owners make better informed decisions. Using the database, brand owners can rapidly scan new TLD application data under a number of different criteria, including IDN translations, trademark classifications, industry categorizations, string similarity and much more. Data is supplemented with qualitative assessments of the mission statements, abuse prevention provisions and proposed registration processes detailed in the applications.
Both services are available immediately through Melbourne IT’s TLD Risk Assessment Center (TRAC).
“Time is one of the most critical elements of the new TLD challenge. Tackling a complex, time-consuming project such as this and developing effective public comments in a matter of weeks, to either support or oppose a new TLD application, will challenge even the most well-resourced organization. Working with experts with many years of experience and a strong understanding of the Application Guidebook means companies can approach the challenge confidently,” Mr. Hnarakis said.
Each TRAC risk report covers a list of up to 15 new TLD applications with a full analysis of the potential risks. Subsequently, a verbal debrief takes place with a Melbourne IT consultant to discuss the findings and recommended strategies to address any exposed risks – whether lodging a comment, formally objecting or determining whether a defensive second-level domain registration strategy is needed.
For those organizations wishing to undertake their own risk assessment, the self-service TRAC custom search and analysis tool facilitates deep searches of TLD application data to assist legal teams be more efficient and effective in their response. For more information about Melbourne IT’s TRAC services, visit www.gtldscan.com.
About Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services
Melbourne IT DBS helps organizations manage, protect and optimize online brands to maximize the value of online assets. The Company helps clients minimize risk and make smarter decisions in managing online presence. The company’s 3,800 clients include some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, Melbourne IT DBS maintains 15 offices in 10 countries, and is a division of the listed Melbourne IT Group (ASX: MLB). For more information, visit www.melbourneitdbs.com.
This Melbourne IT DBS news release was sourced from:
ARI Registry Services has been selected by the NSW and Victorian governments to assist with the application and operation of the .SYDNEY, .MELBOURNE and .VICTORIA top level domains.ARI Registry Services has engaged professional services firm Ernst & Young and digital brand management services provider Melbourne IT to assist its consultancy work in developing the application for three Top-Level Domains that adhere to ICANN’s strict requirements.It was a big week for Australia on the TLD front with ARI Registry Services also securing the rights to apply for the TLD for one of the country’s most popular sports, the Australian Football League – .AFL.Meanwhile, other providers of services for TLD applicants have been alerting us to their successes, even if they have not been trumpeting who their clients are.It was announced by Domain Incite that Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has registered for another 20 TLD application slots with ICANN, bringing its total to date to 40. And Melbourne IT announced in an investor presentation for its full year results that there are 120 global brands working with their Digital Brands Services as of 14 February and they expect to be handling 150 applications by the closing date for new applications on 12 April.Melbourne IT, like many others, believe there will be a total of 1000 to 1500 applications for new TLDs coming online in 2013.These announcements could spur potential applicants, in particular brands, into belatedly applying for their own TLDs, with ARI Registry Services’ CEO Adrian Kinderis saying on the announcement of the .SYDNEY, .MELBOURNE and .VICTORIA announcements that:
“It’s great to see Australian governments and corporate entities embracing the opportunities presented by new Top-Level Domains and securing their identity as a digital asset for their constituents and stakeholders. Operating a Top-Level Domain is a significant undertaking and the governments of New South Wales and Victoria recognised the need for expertise, security and reliability in operating a core piece of Internet infrastructure. That’s why ARI Registry Services was selected for this critical project.””The introduction of new Top-Level Domains marks a sweeping evolution of the Internet. The appointment of ARI Registry Services by the governments’ of New South Wales and Victoria to provide strategic planning consultancy, application development support and technical registry operations will ensure the success of this ground breaking initiative. With world leading domain name industry experience and expertise, and the backing of our project partner, Melbourne IT and advisor Ernst & Young, we look forward to developing an asset that supports the needs of stakeholders and Internet users globally,” Mr Kinderis said.
The Singaporean communications company StarHub has become the sixth company to publicly announce they will be applying to ICANN for their top level domain, joining organisations such as Unicef, Deloitte, Neustar, Canon, Hitachi and possibly even IBM.It has been predicted by many involved in the domain name business, including one of StarHub’s partners in applying for their TLD, ARI Registry Services, that there will be around 1000 brand applications.StarHub has partnered with technical registry provider ARI Registry Services and digital brand management services provider Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services (DBS) to help it apply for and operate its ‘.brand’ domain name.StarHub aims to create a branded, authoritative corner of the internet devoted completely to its business interests under the ‘.starhub’ TLD. In future, consumers may see new website addresses such as ‘mobile.starhub’, ‘tv.starhub’ and ‘broadband.starhub’ introduced to the brand’s marketing and advertising activity.Mr Oliver Chong, StarHub’s Assistant Vice President of Brand and Marketing Communications, explained the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will position the brand as a leader in the region.”Our ‘.starhub’ new Top-Level Domain will cement the company’s position as Singapore’s most innovative info-communications company. We pride ourselves on being at the forefront of innovation and through this initiative StarHub is one of first companies in the region to publicly commit to the next generation of online navigation,” Mr Chong said.”We believe the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain will deliver clear marketing and advertising benefits to StarHub, such as improved online brand recall and a more intuitive consumer experience with easy to remember domain names such as ‘mobile.starhub’. We also anticipate potential Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) benefits by operating a more targeted and relevant naming system that is clearly matched with our website content,” he said.”Ultimately, we believe ‘.starhub’ will deliver increased consumer trust and loyalty in our digital brand and enable StarHub to future-proof its online presence.”Mr Adrian Kinderis, CEO of ARI Registry Services – the company chosen by StarHub to provide technical expertise and infrastructure for the initiative – said it was a bold step forward for the company and reinforces its position as a leader in online innovation.”StarHub is an industry leader and operating a new Top-Level Domain will reinforce its position at the forefront of innovation within the online space. As a proven global registry solution provider, we are extremely excited to be chosen to help support the ‘.starhub’ Top-Level Domain,” Mr Kinderis said. “A simple, memorable and branded Internet domain name like ‘.starhub’ will allow consumers to bypass search engines and go directly to the content they are looking for. I anticipate that this announcement by StarHub will open the floodgates for Asian brands to get on board with this exciting initiative and it will be a major boost to the local digital economy.”Mr Theo Hnarakis, CEO & Managing Director of Melbourne IT – the company chosen by StarHub to provide domain strategy and application consulting services – said the decision to apply for ‘.starhub’ would deliver long-term benefits for the StarHub brand.”The way consumers connect with brands online has changed dramatically in the past few years with e-Commerce booming, mobile Web browsing rising fast and social media usage expanding – all of which has provided brands with opportunities and headaches in equal measure. Vital to the future of nearly every modern company is the ability for customers to easily engage with the business online. Savvy brands like StarHub understand that fact and realise the cornerstone to their future online strategy lies in a ‘.brand’,” Mr Hnarakis said.The application window for new Top-Level Domains opened on 12 January and will close on 12 April 2012 with those intending to apply needing to register with ICANN by 29 March.
Short, memorable domain names are advantageous for internet consumers finding the website they want, according to market research conducted on behalf of Melbourne IT Digital Brand Services (Melbourne IT DBS) in the US and UK.The research, that will undoubtedly be used to encourage businesses to sign on for their very own generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) found that a minority of consumers, albeit a sizeable minority, actually typed in the domain name they desired.In the UK, a quarter (25%) of respondents said they navigated directly to a company website by remembering an advertised web address. When most consumers go online to make their purchases, the research found that 60 per cent use search engines such as Google to try to find the products they have either seen or heard advertised.In the US, when respondents were asked how they usually navigate to the websites of products or companies advertised on TV, radio or in print, over one third (35%) of the respondents type the advertiser’s brand or product name into a search engine and navigate from there while again, around one quarter (26%) begin by typing the web address into a search engine. When trying to find the official site of a product or service they had seen or heard advertised, two thirds (67%) of consumers admitted to ending up on a completely different website than the official site they had intended to visit, via a search engine.”Big consumer brands spend millions on advertising, sponsorships and their in-store retail presence. But with consumers using the web to actually make their purchase, and the high chance of those consumers getting sidetracked in doing so, that offline investment loses its value,” Melbourne IT DBS’ European Sales Director, Stuart Durham, said.Jonathan Freeman, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Goldsmiths University of London, has been studying online consumer behaviour for more than a decade. “The current domain name system is not as simple as it could be,” Freeman said. “Brand based domain names provide a much more direct index and, as a result, they should be much easier for consumers to remember. I imagine the concept should be very attractive to brand owners who want consumers to use their web address. Using the new approach will make direct access to websites feel as intuitive and natural as typing the company or product name into a search engine, but with the benefit that consumers will know exactly where they will get to.”Consumers had concerns around trust when shopping online. In the British research, 51 one per cent of consumers online felt it was difficult to differentiate between websites selling genuine goods and those who sold fake or counterfeit items, and an overwhelming 83% agreed that online brands should take greater action to help consumers tell the difference between websites selling genuine goods from those sites selling counterfeit goods.In the US, differentiating legitimate online brands from websites selling counterfeit or fake goods was also desired by shoppers online with four in five (80%) American respondents thinking online brands should better help consumers tell the difference between websites selling genuine goods from websites selling counterfeit or fake goods.”The rise of counterfeit goods online has the potential to erode trust in the online shopping experience and it’s clear from the results that consumers are looking to brands to make every possible effort to show that their sites and those of their retail partners can be trusted,” Mr Durham said.In a plug for their services to assist applicants with their .BRAND TLD applications and operation, Mr Durham said “securing a ‘.brand’ domain name will deliver brand owners a trustworthy digital anchor for their brand. A .brand has the potential to create significant benefits for marketers, including memorable domains for increased direct navigation by consumers, shorter domains for mobile web users, and an indisputable mark of trust for those consumers looking for reassurance they are buying authentic goods online.”The research of 2,069 UK consumers online, conducted by YouGov while in the US The polling company, Inc. conducted the nationwide online survey of 1,007 American adults.To read more on the UK research, click here while more information on the US research is available here.