Verisign submitted a letter (pdf) to ICANN in response to the comments regarding the proposed amendment #3 of the .com registry contract. I want to highlight one aspect of the letter I found notable. In providing an example of domain name speculator activity, Verisign wrote:
“As a recent example, moments before the World Health Organization announced the official name of the coronavirus, Namecheap registered the name (covid-19.com) to a domain name speculator, presumably unassociated with the public health mission of the WHO.”
It is interesting that Verisign knocks this sale that added $7.85 to its bottom line. Multiply this by many thousands each day, and Verisign is making a whole lot of money from domain names registered by speculators.
Most likely, this highlighted domain name and other domain names of the sort will not be resold because they have little commercial value. In fact, I previously wrote about how a very low percentage of these types of domain names have sold for meaningful amounts of money. Assuming most registered domain names will never be resold, only three entities make money from speculative domain names like the one highlighted: Verisign, Namecheap, and ICANN. Verisign takes the lion’s share of the proceeds.
I also found it interesting that Verisign called out this particular domain registration because the company doesn’t seem to have issues with people to registering domain names like this or even registering domain names with trademarks in them. In fact, in Verisign’s blog series, the company highlights recent trending keywords that were registered in .com and .net domain names. In August of 2019, for example, Verisign shared these 4 trending keywords, among others:
Instead of providing some sort of educational guidance about the perils of registering trademark keywords like AirBNB or TaylorSwift, Verisign simply highlighted that these were trending. In addition, Verisign highlighted that “dorian” and “hurricane” were trending keywords while Hurricane Dorian caused a great deal of damage and loss of life. Perhaps Verisign should have taken a role in educating its customers about why they should not register domain names with certain keywords.
As a domain investor, I hate seeing domain names related to tragedies registered by speculators. I also think it is dangerous for investors to register trademark keyword domain names. In fact, one of my first articles on DomainInvesting.com from 2007 offered two important tips:
“NEVER ever register domain names with famous or somewhat famous trademarks (or trademark typos).”
“Never try to capitalize on a tragedy or other event no matter how much money you can make in a short period of time, unless you intend to build a “real” memorial site.”
In that article, I wrote about the negative publicity that could come with registering a domain name related to a tragedy or other event such as an pandemic. I wrote, “Think of it this way, would you want a New York Times headline to read: ‘Cybersquatter John Doe Takes Advantage of Families of XXXXXXXXX Tragedy?’”
I never would have expected that Verisign would be the company calling out domain speculators for their registrations that add many millions of dollars to its bottom line each year. We are aligned though, because I would love for speculators to stop paying Verisign to register those kinds of domain names.