>In the past couple of months I have been approached by a growing number of our clients concerning emails from Asia informing them that someone has requested to register a domain name that is the same as theirs but with a different TLC (Top Level Domain).
This raises two main issues;
1) Whether you should respond to these companies or not.
2) Protecting your Domain Name, Company name and Intellectual Property Rights in relation to your company or business.
The first issue of whether or not to reply to these approaches is simple – DON’T. There is absolutely no need to liaise with companies sending ‘cold’ emails. I call them Cold Emails as they are targeted to you specifically and leave a chill after reading.
But why don’t you need to liaise with this helpful company warning you of this possible conflict in the Digital Arena – surely they are being helpful, right? Bottom line they are trying to sell you Domain Names. Do you need to buy these Domain Names? And do you need to buy them from these companies?
Well the choice of buying from the company informing you is yours but I would recommend that you speak to you IT consultant/Web Designers first to establish whether you need to and whether your normal supplier can supply these names at reasonable price. There really is no need to buy from unknown and untrusted third parties.
Point two: Protecting your domain and/or business name is critical in the modern world. For the last ten years buying a domain name or two has been more than enough for the average small business, particularly those that have an internet presence but not doing a lot of business over the internet. However, I would suggest that those days are numbered as more and more business is carried out over the internet and any business using the internet and turning over more than 40% of it’s total turnover online needs to be taking Domain Name protection very seriously.
But what do I mean Domain Protection? If your domain is www.businessnow.com and you are trading in the UK you will almost certainly already have bought the .co.uk version and if you have not then do it now.
As time goes on a less unique name such as www.businessnow.com will be sort after more and more and eventually you could end up with a dozen or more websites with the same address all selling services similar to yours. They could end in .net, .biz, .eu, .me, .tv etc.. This would deaden your impact and also loose credibility amongst potential clients.
So how much risk are you at? Well it depends on the uniqueness of your domain name essentially. If you are www.456widget99.com I doubt you will be in much competition other than with ‘widget’ names. If however your name is www.devonflowershop.com there is a chance you will be in competition with other flower shops and it would be good to buy up as many Domain Names as possible that cover your back. In addition to protection you can use these to help with your Search Engine Strategy.
But what about the Far East threat. Well, I doubt that www.devonflowershop.com will be selling much in most of the Far East; but it is possible. You might think about the long term projections for trade with the Far East. Billions live there but unless you have specific goals in the foreseeable future I would not concern yourself with protecting with these TLD’s if you are a Sole Trader or SME.
One final point – there is an opportunity here. Many of our clients find that their brilliant ideas for company and Domain Names are thwarted because the TLD has been taken already. More and more TLD’s are being made available and for a while – in about 18 months or so – there will be a glut of new TLD’s to choose from after the new rules governing TLD’s comes into force. So if you have a business idea revolving around a particular domain name and all the TLD’s have currently gone – don’t lose heart and get yourself down on some waiting/pre registration lists and grab yourself your beloved domain name.