This week, Google announced a new gaming platform called Stadia. As I observed shortly after the news was announced, Google smartly acquired the brand match Stadia.com domain name in advance of the announcement. I did not notice other Stadia-related domain names registered by Google at the time I wrote my article, but the company appears to have registered many domain names in ccTLD and new gTLD extensions in the hours and days since. Ten of the Stadia domain names registered by Google (via DNStination Inc.) include:
The fact that Google did not appear to register Stadia ccTLD and new gTLD domain names in advance does not seem to have stopped third parties from registering and talking about their Stadia related domain names. Some people have registered Stadia domain names in .com, and others have registered them in new gTLD extensions and ccTLDs.
In my opinion, registering a domain name with “Stadia” in it because of Google’s new gaming platform, with the hope of selling or monetizing the domain name, is cybersquatting. Sure, there are cases where someone could use a “Stadia” domain name in a non-infringing manner, but if the goal is to sell to Google or monetize traffic with PPC parking or alternative monetization, it’s likely cybersquatting and not a good idea.
If Google wants those domain names and doesn’t want to reward someone that registered the domain name because of their gaming console, they’ll likely pay a few hundred dollars to file a URS rather than negotiate with and reward a domain speculator. Perhaps even more likely, Google will start off with a scary looking cease and desist letter before filing a URS demanding the domain name be transferred at no cost to Google.
Buying domain names with new trademarks in mind, especially when the TMs are related to major companies, is a bad idea. At worst, the company will file a lawsuit or dispute (UDRP or the cheaper URS) and the domain name will be lost and the registrant will have to deal with after effects of the dispute, including legal fees and possibly fines if litigation is the route taken. At best, perhaps the company will be willing to buy the domain name for around the cost of the dispute. It seems like it would be a no-brainer by now, but some people still do this.
I am not a lawyer, and there is a lot of legal grey area when it comes to intellectual property and trademark law. People should be free to register keyword domain names of course, but I think a court or UDRP/URS panel would not look kindly upon an investor who hand registered a domain name with a keyword that matches the name of a brand that was introduced that day or the day before.