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Overstock WILL Rebrand as O.CO

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Not to beat a dead horse about this, but it appears that Overstock will completely overhaul its company branding, and will be known throughout the world simply as O.CO.  It doesn’t look like the company will be called Overstock anymore, at least according to its O.CO FAQ page, which states:

The O.co web domain currently redirects traffic to Overstock.com. We are working toward migrating the site directly to the O.co. online domain for users. Right now, the O.co web address is used as a shortcut so customers can quickly access Overstock.com, especially when they’re short on time or using a mobile device to access the Internet.

This is a very risky maneuver for an established company. In the US, consumers know the brand as Overstock, so a change to O.CO might confuse loyal customers. They are presumably doing this because the company sells much more than just “overstock” goods, and the word “overstock” doesn’t translate well over multiple languages.

The re-branding effort is clearly forward-thinking though. Overstock is betting that in the next few years, consumers will recognize and embrace .CO, which will eliminate any confusion. Where the Overstock brand name doesn’t make sense internationally, a company known as O.CO does make sense across almost all languages.

I think it’s smart for Overstock to slowly introduce the new O.CO brand across its lines of business before changing it permanently. Customers will gradually become accustomed to visiting O.CO and hearing the name in marketing collateral, easing the transition.

A Shot Across the Bow to Domain Squatters

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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.

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