The pre registration for .co Domains started by all of the main domain registrar .
The Colombians are no doubt planning a big party. It seems that their well-funded attempt to turn the ‘.co’ country-code top-level domain (ccTLD) into a global alternative to ‘.com’ may well pay off: over half of the top 500 global brands have signed up for a ‘.co’ already. However, WTR has seen a list of domains invalidated during the sunrise period which suggests that the cybersquatters are circling – and brand owners have just days to protect some well-known marks.
Out of the 100 brands granted special status by Deloitte before the sunrise, 84 of them have now registered and the registry is hoping to reach 100% within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, up to 70% of the world’s best brands (according to BrandFinance) will have applied for a ‘.co’ before the domain goes on general sale.
But some brands will need to act fast to save their names from cybersquatters’ clutches. WTR has seen a list, so far sent only to registrars, that details the 1,500 domains invalidated during the sunrise period. These are names that applicants claimed corresponded to trademarks but were rejected by the registry, known smartly as .CO. The list includes:
- ‘benylin.co’ (a key asset in Johnson & Johnson’s $60 billion portfolio);
- ‘bratz.co’ (the multibillion-dollar Bratz brand is owned by MGA Entertainment);
- ‘hulk.co’ (a valuable character in the Marvel pantheon, owned by Disney); and
- ‘java.co’ (Sun Microsystems, a subsidiary of Oracle, owns numerous JAVA trademarks for programming language).
Most of the 1,500 terms on the list are generics such as ‘airways.co’ and ‘slimming.co’. But some, such as those unveiled above, represent terms in which trademark owners were unable to prove their rights or (more likely) terms that cybersquatters tried to register. And now they’re thrown back into the pool for all to fight over. Where more than one application is submitted for a single term, an auction will commence.
According to .CO, this is the fairest way to run the process. “We’ve bent over backwards to allow brand owners to register their names,” explains Nicolai Bezsonoff, .CO’s chief operating officer. “We had a trademark sunrise period, a globally protected brands list and a very transparent process. There’s nothing more we can do. The worst thing that could happen is for a brand to come in six months later and say they didn’t realize it was going on.”
Given the marketing spend for the ‘.co’ launch, lack of awareness is an unlikely problem. The publicity around the global 100 brand list attracted a lot of interest among trademark owners when it was drawn up by Deloitte, and .CO even had a presence at this year’s International Trademark Association (INTA) annual meeting.
So trademark owners who don’t know it’s happening must have been walking around with their eyes closed (and even that may not have been enough to block out the loud orange of .CO’s own brand). The wide publicity has meant that the registry received over 11,000 applications from brand owners during the sunrise period, and a further 15,000 applications during the land rush. Such is the demand that .CO has extended its land rush until noon EST on July 16, giving brand owners a few extra days to come to the party. Some of them may wish to try and grab the terms invalidated during the sunrise, including valuable industry generics.