A Shot Across the Bow to Domain Squatters

During the past couple of days, a number of domain registrars have reduced their prices for .CO domain names, likely in anticipation of the boost .CO domain names will receive after its exposure in its Go Daddy Super Bowl commercial. Businesses and consumers will look for the best place to buy them, and buyers tend to be sensitive when it comes to domain pricing.

As a result of lower prices, and perhaps fueled by alcoholic beverages many will enjoy during the Super Bowl, some people may think about taking a chance and registering potentially trademark infringing domain names, since a lower cost would mean less PPC revenue necessary for break even and profitability.

This isn’t smart on multiple fronts:

  • .CO domain names are subject to UDRPs, and obvious cyberquatters will lose their names. Additionally, future UDRP filings may use a person’s UDRP losses against them in the future, so this could impact other domain holdings.
  • .CO prices will likely go back to the regular $29.99 rate at renewal time, making the decision to renew or drop more expensive.
  • Cybersquatting can lead to $100,000 fines per domain name according to the United States’ ACPA.
  • Just about all of the .CO UDRP filings to date have been won by complainants.

The .CO Registry issued a press release urging domain registrants who may hope to purchase these “cybersquatted” domain names to think again. In case you didn’t get a chance to read the press release, I posted it below.

I am not sure what else a registry can do to prevent cybersquatting, aside from acting as a judge and jury when it comes to infringing domain names, which makes little sense and isn’t feasible.

.CO Registry Press Release:

MIAMI, February 3, 2010 – This Sunday, the .CO domain will be introduced to a broad global audience of over a hundred million consumers as the featured domain name in a highly anticipated  GoDaddy.CO Super Bowl ad. Billed as the “hottest new Web address” for branding your online presence, the 30-second ad is expected to draw broad consumer awareness to millions of short, meaningful .CO domain names now available on the Internet.

Since the launch in late July, the .CO domain has already received tremendous support and adoption from the business and Internet communities, with well over 600,000 .CO domain names registered by individuals, organizations and companies in more than 200 countries worldwide. Many .CO websites are currently showcased on  Opportunity.CO.

Juan Diego Calle, founder and CEO of .CO Internet, attributes a great deal of the company’s success to date to the fact that “we have invested heavily in the technologies and processes needed to create a safer, more secure online experience.” Given the explosive worldwide growth that the .CO domain has enjoyed to date; and the increased attention .CO will likely garner as a result of the upcoming Super Bowl ad,   “I want to reaffirm our commitment to monitor, enforce, and develop the necessary safeguards against cyber-squatting and all other forms of domain name abuse, as those threats continue to evolve.”

In instances where a registrant with no legitimate interest in a .CO domain name secures a name that is identical or confusingly similar to a trade- or service-mark; or where a .CO domain name is registered and used in bad faith, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) will apply.   The UDRP is a mechanism to quickly and efficiently settle domain name disputes between registrants and third party complainants.

The UDRP was successfully utilized to redress claims of brand infringement by claimants in approximately 50 cases in 2010, said Eduardo Santoyo, VP & ccTLD Manager of .CO Internet.   “The really good news,” according to Santoyo, “is that the number of UDRP claims filed relating to   .CO domain names is extremely low, relative to the size of the Registry, and suggests that cyber-squatting has not been a pervasive problem for the .CO extension.

In closing, Santoyo advises that “the .CO Registry will continue to monitor and assess the efficacy of all of its policies over time, and will determine if additional policies are necessary to accomplish the Registry’s goals of ensuring a clean and secure name space.”

In early December, the .CO Registry announced the launch of a  Rapid Domain Compliance Process, which empowers the Registry to quickly bring into compliance any domain name that is deployed for fraudulent, malicious or criminal purposes (such as phishing, pharming and malware); and the upcoming implementation of  Domain Name System Security Extensions (DNSSEC), which will help the registry combat against impersonation attacks, data integrity attacks, and the risk of users being diverted to any unintended or unsafe websites.

About .CO Internet S.A.S.
.CO Internet S.A.S. is the Registry Operator for the .CO top-level domain.   The .CO domain offers individuals, organizations and businesses a truly global, recognizable and credible web address for branding their online presence. Thanks to leading-edge technology, enhanced security and unprecedented rights protections, the .CO domain is poised to become the premier web address where the world’s next great enterprises will make their home.   For more information about the .CO Registry, please visit  www.COinternet.co and  www.Opportunity.co — or follow us on Twitter  @dotCO.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. @Elliot,

    From your article:

    “In instances where a registrant with no legitimate interest in a .CO domain name secures a name that is identical or confusingly similar to a trade- or service-mark; or where a .CO domain name is registered and used in bad faith, the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) will apply.”

    Who determines whether or not a registrant has a “legitimate interest” at the time of a .co domain registration? How does one determine “bad faith”?

    We own SandCastle.co – there are a multitude of businesses around the world with “Sand Castle” as part of their company name. How concerned should we be that someone will try to UDRP us? Are generic-worded terms not somewhat protected from this process?

    – TBC

  2. @ Cheese

    Like every other domain name, there is only the registrant to determine if a domain name is legitimately being purchased or if bad faith is intended. After that, a UDRP panelist or court would decide that.

    If you have any questions about whether or not you have the right to own a particular domain name, you should pay an attorney for a legal opinion. I am not a lawyer nor can I give legal advice.

  3. Perhaps a better way of asking my question would be this:

    If a business entity has a site at “xyz.com”, does that automatically negate the equivalent .co domain purchase by someone else? If this is the case, then what is the point of the .co extension? Does a .com holder automatically hold providence over the same .co domain as far as UDRP is concerned?

    I’m confused.

    – TBC

  4. @Elliot,

    Just saw your response.

    Is domain-investing recognized by the UDRP process as a legitimate interest? I’m guessing the answer is the “gray-area” type…that’s not good if you’re a “domainer”.

    – TBC

  5. “I’m confused.”

    @ Cheese

    Then you should ask a lawyer who specializes in IP law. With all the domain registrations you discuss, surely you can afford a consult to answer some of these confusing issues for you.

    From my perspective, descriptive words and phrases can be held in the .CO even if someone else owns the .com as long as the .com owner’s rights aren’t infringed upon. For those details and more info, you should ask an attorney.

    “Is domain-investing recognized by the UDRP process as a legitimate interest?”

    Most panels have recognized domain investing and PPC publishing as legitimate as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of another company. Again, I don’t want another long, pointless, and ultimately annoying back and forth with you. If you have real questions and aren’t simply looking to stir the pot, you should speak with an attorney.

  6. Heh…I’m on my third glass of Petite Syrah…good stuff.

    Some of the noobs will benefit from our little back-‘n-forth above. Far too many will get their tits caught in a wringer with .co purchases, simply because the .com-holders will pursue a .co UDRP far more aggressively than they have on .net, .org, etc. It’s gonna’ be ugly, I’m afraid.

    Have a good rest of the weekend

    – TBC

  7. What a strange world we live in where Granddaddy Godaddy is allowed to entice millions of people into registering domains name that have trouble and lawsuits written all over them. Millions of dollars for registrars, lawyers, and panels … and a big scam for the unsuspecting consumer. Will we ever see a world again where people make money from hard and decent efforts and not from scams?

  8. @ Rich

    Interesting, but can you share some of these lawsuits you’ve seen in the 6 months since the extension was released? Do you think many companies will go after other ccTLDs? Have they done this already where I’ve missed it?

  9. @ Rich said: “Will we ever see a world again where people make money from hard and decent efforts and not from scams?”

    Louise raises hand. I make $$ the old fashioned way, not like the rest of you people. Just joking. I eeeeaaaarrrn it!

  10. I saw this article referenced on http://OceanfrontDomains.Com and just don’t get why you Americns buy into the entire ccTLD thing. Do you not realize that it subjects you to the rules, regulations and laws of hte foreign country? Do some reasearch on the Bit.LY case and you’ll understand what can go wrong when dealing with a ccTLD of a foreign nation. Stick with .COM, my American amigos, you have the freedom of speech, a very important element of the internet. Those of us who do not take it for granted are in a better position to realize just how valuable a commodity that truly is.

  11. News Flash:
    World Wide .Com Owners Rejoice:

    The statistics are in, it appears that there is a new cult
    of dimwits who have bought into a flawed system called .CO
    that will send FREE TRAFFIC to a .Com Internet Website.

    Yes, this simple minded group has consented to this new MODEL .Co
    and will send you there Traffic to your .COM to profit from FREE.

    This fanatical group of emotional and easily led simple minds
    (who have been know to foam at the mouth, at the mere mention of .Co) and will spend endless hours ranting non sensual abstract thoughts and accusatory mumblings to anyone that will listen.

    WARNING: This group of unstable and mentally unfit believers should be considered dangerous and a regarded as a cult, should you encounter a simple minded .Co believer you should avoid debate and eye contact at all costs and lead them to believe there misguided thoughts have merit, and you shall continue to receive there FREE money making traffic to YOUR website.

    SHOW CHARITY: I personally sent a .Co owner a cheap Xmas Card thanking them for the “Increase in MY annual Domain Website Traffic and Income”.

  12. @Elliot,

    The reason .CO is getting any attention at all (instead of the terrific .ZO) is because it is all about cybersquatting, typo, and an unassuming public who don’t read the press releases that appear in industry blogs. It is a disgrace that this is allowed to go the way it is going, and if enough people are hoodwinked and lose the name because of the “subtleties” of the law, then the government will step in for sure.

  13. @ Rich

    I think .CO is getting attention because CO stands for Company and Corporation among others, and ZO stands for… nothing relevant I can think of.

    I agree that people shouldn’t buy names to cybersquat on the rights of others. For instance, if I bought Apple.CO, I wouldn’t have any content or advertising related to computers, phones, technology….etc. It would be about the fruit. There are plenty of other examples of legal usage.

    It’s like the old say, “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.”

    A descriptive/generic .CO name doesn’t necessarily infringe on the rights of another company unless the owner uses it in bad faith.

  14. It appears that ElliotsBlog.co is available. Now, what if someone decided to start a blog about domain names using that domain? Would you UDRP that registrant?

    What if that blog was about a subject other than domain names? What if that blog contained revenue-producing advertising?

    Lots of what-ifs, but I’m curious where you would draw the line, if at all.

  15. @ Dan

    I guess that would depend if I felt the person was doing it to infringe on my rights. I just registered that one just as a preventative measure (thanks for the idea).

    If it wasn’t on the subject of domain names, the person would have every right to use it. I also think someone would have every right to build on DogWalker.co, Burbank.co, Lowell.co…etc since they’re descriptive. In fact, they’re all owned and I have no intention of going after the owners.

  16. .co could have offered much more protection for buyers, after all, they design their own rules but they threw buyers to the wolves. Since it’s universal and just an ‘m’ missing from the .com UDRP panelists and judges will have much less sympathy for you.

  17. @ Elliot

    Do you think I would run into any issues if I would register my first name “Adis” and would offer internet related services?

    Adis.com does exits but it’s a Pharma Solutions company and the name is trademarked (Pharmaceutical Industry).

    Appreciate your advise!

  18. I don’t think you would give a bad advice 😉

    I know what you mean, thanks for the advice! I’ll might not touch it since it wouldn’t be worth the battle.

  19. Not being funny but the whole .co thing makes me laugh!
    I mean its like the signs you see above bongs in headshops saying ‘for tobacco – legal use only’ oh please.
    ALthough I note the small number of UDRP cases so far, I think that trickle might turn into a flood when the big companies start realising theyre being screwed on a big scale.
    Either that OR what I believe to be more likely, .co has negligible impact and most companies COULDNT CARE LESS if someone has a crap parked page on theirname.co – it wont take their customers long to realise they *missed off the m* and go to the right place.

  20. @ LindaM

    I guess it all depends on how typosquatting is viewed. If Microsoft doesn’t care about Micosoft.com (typo) then they won’t care about Microsoft.co either. (Just a hypothetical; Microsoft.co is registered and forwards to the .com).

    Some people may consider .co registrations as another form of typosquatting and might decide to take action against .co registrants.

  21. Oh for sure I dont doubt the annoyance factor, and it will cost money too. TM.com might end up paying money to tm.co for ads on the squatted page.
    Recently ive been buying LLL.tv’s and in the course of which spent a lot of time on the uspto website searching marks, and checking whether companies tend to let things slide or not.
    It is interesting to note that while lots of LLL combinations are tm (possibly all?) often those tm’s are not protected. I found lots of instances where a company called LLL and holding a tm in LLL:
    1)Owns the LLL.com but others longterm own the other cctlds.
    2)Doesnt own the LLL.com and does business on LLL.xx
    3)Does business on craplongLLL-name.com.

    I think some companies go all out on defending even the slightest perceived dilution or infringement, others just go hey – who cares, our customers know where we are.

    Slightly off topic, its a slow day – but what are the owners of loads of LLL.com’s doing?? Are some so stubborn that since noone has offered $1m+ yet that theyd rather have the name 404? Keep up the good work big guys! So many I see dont even resolve, totally awesome for my matching LLL.tv’s 🙂

  22. Consider the absurdity of it all. ICANN, which specifically issued UDRP to address trademark infringement, has decided to unleash a situation that baits the general public into getting knee deep into trademark infringement issues. No wonder the government is getting more and more involved in this Alice in Wonderland world that ICANN is creating.

  23. “I want to reaffirm our commitment to monitor, enforce, and develop the necessary safeguards against cyber-squatting and all other forms of domain name abuse, as those threats continue to evolve.”

    What a bunch of crap. Keep this pump and dump alive. See how many sucker you attract.

    How many of the top 1000 .com sites are registered in .co and going to parked pages?


    An example….craigslist.co

  24. Enforcement…..laughable

    “I want to reaffirm our commitment to monitor, enforce, and develop the necessary safeguards against cyber-squatting and all other forms of domain name abuse, as those threats continue to evolve.”

    What a bunch of crap. Keep this pump and dump alive. See how many sucker you attract.

    How many of the top 1000 .com sites are registered in .co and going to parked pages?

    An example….craigslist.co

  25. @Elliot

    @ Landon
    .CO stands for whatever a company’s marketers want it to stand for.

    Sure 🙂

    My Marketers want .Co it to stand for = .Coke

    Example: www. JustSayNo .Coke


  26. @steven Yes. Companies don’t know how to provide legitimate services any more so they rely on all sorts of scams to keep grabbing money from the unsuspecting public who is completely unaware of the legal issues. All of this is done under the guise that they are trying to make life better for everyone. Remember the .tv scam and how far that went?

  27. @steve c2

    And that’s exactly why I decided not to go with adis.co. It would be cool to have my name as a .co domain but I also know many people would correct me or just simply think I mistyped the URL.

  28. Rapid Domain Compliance Process

    sounds like one of those terms they used in iraq war to quickly shoot and kill everyone no matter who was guilty or not.

    – Sumer Kolcak

  29. The way this stuff works is, if you sell ice cream for example, perhaps rasberry and chocolate.

    a guy wearing a tshirt comes to your store
    and then a guy with a tie cuts the line and asks for
    a scoop of ice cream.

    he gets it.

    but if a guy with a tshirt cuts the line, he does not
    get it.

    this is how UDRP and TRADEMARK complaints work, the truth of the fact of the matter is 96% of trademark claims are lies.

    amazon for example ( amazon.com ) got tons of domains from people through court order, and yet amazon is a generic river name.

    everything is a lie.

    – Sumer Kolcak


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