The .CO Registry has generated a lot of buzz in connection with the global launch of the .CO top level domain by adopting a variety of industry-leading best practices that place a premium on protecting the rights of brand owners worldwide.
To date, more than 70 percent of the top 500 global brands, including Coca-Cola, Cisco and Citibank, have secured their corresponding .CO domain names. So have thousands of others.
With broad-based consumer demand, a global distribution network comprised of world-leading domain registrars and resellers, and the public support of leaders in both the trademark and technology communities, the .CO Registry seems well poised for large-scale consumer success. Some industry experts have ambitiously predicted that the .CO domain extension will surpass .NET as the second most popular domain extension on the Internet within the next five years.
Associated with the terms ‘company’, ‘corporation’ and ‘commerce’, the .CO domain is globally recognisable, meaningful and memorable. Already used as part of the third-level domain designation in more than 20 countries (co.uk, .co.jp, .co.il, etc.), the .CO domain is understood across continents, cultures and countries to identify a commercially oriented domain name presence.
The .CO Registry is the first to implement a ‘specially protected marks list’. Eighty-four of the top 100 brands identified by the global consultancy Deloitte as having made significant efforts to protect and enforce their trademarks in the domain name space have also secured their corresponding .CO domain names. (A full summary of brands and the criteria used to create the specially protected marks list can be found at: www.deloitte.com/be/brand-list).
Since the .CO Sunrise phase was narrowly defined to only permit brand owners with exactly matching trademarks to register their corresponding .CO domain names, the Landrush phase offered big brands a unique opportunity to not only expand their portfolio of defensive registrations, but more importantly, to extend their brand in unique and value-creating ways.
The .CO Landrush was so successful that it was extended for three days at the request of registrars in order to allow for more applications to be taken before the domain opened to the general public on July 20. At the time of writing, there were well over 25,000 Landrush applications submitted— considerably more than twice the number of applications for .CO domain names submitted by the close of the Sunrise period.
From a defensive registration perspective, Landrush gave registrants the opportunity to secure the .CO domain names that include all the reasonable variations of a related trademark that may not have been available during Sunrise. For example, Nike could have reserved the domain name Nike.co during the Sunrise phase, as well as securing names such as NikeSneakers.co, NikeSports.co, NikeGolf.co, etc. during the Landrush phase.
Beyond brand protection, the .CO Landrush was the last chance for savvy brand owners to secure valuable, industry-defining keyword domain names that could be used to help drive traffic and generate consumer awareness about their business, product, service or brand in an increasingly cluttered online marketplace.
For example, it’s obvious how a company such as Skype would benefit from owning and leveraging category-killing domain names such as Voip.co or VideoChat.co, which it has in fact taken steps to secure. Owning and leveraging the premium keyword domains that define your industry, category or niche is not only a smart business strategy that you can proactively use to build your online brand, but also a great hedge to ensure that your competition doesn’t do the same!
If more than one application for the same domain name was received during the .CO Landrush, an auction process will determine who is entitled to the domain name. Close to 2,000 domain name auctions will take place in the next month in which competing applicants will bid against one another to secure high priority .CO domain names. Many of these auctions will have dozens of competing bidders—some already have upward of 50 bidders registered.
The .CO Registry has built an aggressive communications plan to ensure that there is broad-based awareness of the opportunity for brand owners to not only protect, but to extend their brands using the .CO domain. The strategy seems to be working, as innovative companies such as Skype, Twitter and Politico are already building products and services to leverage the .CO domain.
Demonstrating an unprecedented level of confidence in any newly launched top level domain, the public company Overstock.com made the bold move to purchase the single digit domain name O.CO directly from the registry before the .CO domain was launched to the general public on July 19 for $350,000.
According to Overstock.com chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne: “In the new era of the Internet, where short and memorable web addresses are critical for capturing the attention of mobile and socially connected Internet users, we are confident that our O.CO web address will help to reinforce our brand and expand our business among these audiences.”
The general availability phase, which is the last phase of the .CO launch plan, began on July 20. Domain names that were not been registered during the .CO Sunrise or Landrush phases, and are not otherwise reserved or restricted by the Registry, are now available for registration to the general public on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.
Within hours of opening the .CO Registry on July 20, 245,073 applications for .CO domain names flooded the system, and individuals and companies began competing for the allocation of highly sought-after .CO domain names.
The new .CO domain provides unprecedented opportunities for corporations, brands, web developers, agencies, entrepreneurs and others to secure high-priority, high-value domain names that have long been ‘unavailable’ in the .com domain. Brand owners concerned about protecting and extending their brand identity online should be sure to register all related .CO domain names as soon after the July 20 launch date as possible.
As history can attest, as awareness and adoption of the .CO extension continues to grow, opportunities to find and secure the related domain names you need most to build your business will, by necessity, constrict. Please consult with your corporate brand advisors and take the steps required to secure your high priority .CO domains early, before the opportunity is lost.
You can learn more about the .CO domain at www.COinternet.co and see some examples of companies building their web presence in the .CO extension at www.Opportunity.co.
Nicolai Bezsonoff is chief operating officer at .CO Internet SAS. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
This article was first published on 01 August 2010 in World IP Review
TLDs, .CO, brands