A business friend emailed me the other day to let me know he spotted an interesting domain name “acquisition” that appeared to be made by a large company. It wasn’t all that interesting to me, but it would have been interesting to speculate about the plans for this new domain name.
One thing we all need to keep in mind is that a domain name “acquisition” isn’t always what it looks like. If a large company acquires a domain name with their brand in it, they might have done so to protect their brand. They might not have even paid for the domain name that they now own. Perhaps they sent the domain owner a cease and desist letter with a request or demand to transfer the domain name to them to prevent the owner from using it.
I monitor UDRP filings, and there are many that are filed because a company’s brand name is included in the domain name. Many companies prefer to send a cease and desist letter to a domain registrant before filing a UDRP or lawsuit. This saves time and money. In order to avoid a re-registration of the domain name, the company may request that the registrant transfer the domain name to them instead of deleting it or letting it drop. This is for brand protection purposes rather than because the company has plans for the domain name.
When I first started buying domain names, I bought a couple of names that I shouldn’t have bought. Fortunately for me, I received an email from someone at the company requesting the domain name, and I happily handed it over to them for free. This didn’t mean anything more than the company protecting its intellectual property. Had someone noticed the transfer, they may have thought the company was buying a domain name for a future product, when in reality, it was simple brand protection.
If you see a corporate domain “acquisition,” it may signify something interesting, but it’s very possible that it was a defensive purchase or transfer.