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Cybersquatting and lack of available domain namesChris Koehncke
As the process of creating an online start-up continues, the day comes to name your company. Sadly the names you will have to choose from are limited by whatâ€™s available as an Internet domain name.
Rules for domain naming are pretty straight forward, it must be memorable, should be easy to spell, canâ€™t be confused as to how itâ€™s spelled (i.e. is it â€œgotomeeting.comâ€ or is it â€œgotomeetings.comâ€), if it is confusing are both domains available (gotomeeting owns all variations). Your domain needs to be no more than 3 syllables and preferably with the less number of characters possible. Oh and finally, it has to be available as a dot.com and dot.net address (the rest of the available domains, .biz, .cc, .us. are simply dot.who.cares selecting one of those domains puts you into the internet ghetto).
So with the above rules you set off to get your name. Prepared to be disappointed. There are presently ~ 81 million .COM domains registered. Almost every single English language word combination of 6 characters or less has been registered by someone.
If you do some basic research, you quickly realize there are only a few million active web sites. The rest? Some are held in reserve by actual companies to protect themselves (e.g. â€œihateibm.comâ€ or â€œmicrosoftsucks.comâ€. But a whole bunch are held by the modern day bandits known as cybersquatters.
The game works with the squatter buying 1000 different domains or at $10 a domain, $10k investment. They set up a parking website for the domain which tracks visitors and finally they offer the domain â€œup for saleâ€ on various websites catering to domain re-sell for say â€œmake an offerâ€.
Make an offer? Iâ€™m going to bid against myself? If you make an offer the squatter quickly tries to check out who you are and how much traffic the domain has had. But whatever, they will respond that they have â€œother offersâ€ and ask that you increase your bid. Whatâ€™s likely happened is the squatter has been or started emailing other companies who own similar domains/products to advise that the domain is about to be sold and encourages them to bid.
The â€˜net is I donâ€™t buy domains at auction nor do I respond to requests to bid on domains â€œbefore itâ€™s too lateâ€. Nor you should.
The problem though is .COM is indeed the Rodeo Drive address on the Internet and itâ€™s priced at a Wal-Mart level. IBM.com costs IBM as much as Billthepowerwasher.com â€“ namely $9.95 a year.
The answer to this problem is something that ICANN (the Internet equal to the United Nations) has failed to address â€“ that dot.com addresses are superior to any other address and thus should have superior pricing.
I would happily pay $1000 a year for my dot.com domain address for my e-business. Let Bill the Power Washer go get a dot.biz address for his 100 visitors a year for $9.95.
Now Iâ€™m not advocating we hand over $1000 to Godaddy or worse Verisign for a domain, their cost to run a dot.com or dot.whocares is the same. Rather, ICANN should establish a fund for some do good project (Internet for the North Pole perhaps).
A high dot.com registration fee would quickly eliminate cybersquatters and only real players would then be sitting around the table. This would also give the other domain (dot.biz, dot.whocares) increased business. The good guy wins, the bad guys loses as it should be.