If you think your .com is enough, think again. The new era of top-level domain name extensions is here. Long gone are the days when you could just get .net and .org to go along with your .com. Beyond the .us and .biz and other countries’ designations, there are now industry specific domain extensions that, when properly added to your internet arsenal, can keep competitors off the field. These new domain names are for many main stream industries – from health, to finance, to food and beverages, and beyond.
Imagine that you have a registered trademark or service mark. Wouldn’t you want to prevent someone from diverting traffic away from your business to theirs by confusing customers? You might respond, “Well, they’ll be violating federal law, and we can sue them if they infringe our mark, so we’re not worried.” Isn’t the cost of registration of additional domain names a lot less expensive than a lawsuit?
Also, if you have a registered trademark or service mark, you may want to prevent parody– or complaint–sites from popping up. Indeed, it is not uncommon for restaurants, for example, to get negative reviews. What if someone purchased the core of your restaurant’s domain with the .review extension (one of the new top-level domains)? You might not be able to do anything whatsoever to shut it down.
More significantly, imagine that you don’t have a registered trademark or service mark yet because of the nature of your phrasing, like BrooklynDiningRoom.com. It would be really important in that case to obtain the companion extensions in order to prevent someone from starting a competing website called BrooklynDiningRoom.kitchen or BrooklynDiningRoom.menu. (Note: .kitchen and .menu are two of the newest extensions already available with .restaurant soon to be available in November 2014.)
With the advent of search engine optimization (SEO), some people have taken the position that the domain name (and consequently the extension) is simply not that important anymore. However, the release of additional domain name extensions that will allow competitors to adapt the identical phrasing of your domain name, except for the extension, may lead to confusion and ultimately diversion of customers from your business. So you should decide – before someone else snags the related domain names – whether you want to solidify your portfolio of domain names with a few additional acquisitions. You can secure them for as little as one year, and if you later decide you don’t need them, you don’t have to renew them.
It is also important to consider domain name extensions that are not related to your business at all and whether having others use the core of your domain name with those different extensions, even those in an unrelated product or service category, could result in dilution of your brand and potentially confuse your customers. A lot could depend on what the content of the associated competitor’s website would be, of course, but you won’t know what that is until the competitor’s site is up and running. (Note: For any extensions associated with the adult entertainment industry, you may also want to secure those to avoid others’ using them in connection with the core of your domain name.)
For domain names that have not been released yet (they are rolling out), pre-registration is an option. Domain name registrars, including GoDaddy.com and Register.com, have pre-registration pricing, and although they cannot guarantee you will get the domain name when it is released, their computers presumably allow you to have a better chance, as they are using algorithms with automatic attempts to register your domain name. There may even be priority registration for those with registered trademarks or service marks. Consult with your attorney and Chief Technology Officer/Internet Strategist to determine what your strategy should be with regard to the multitude of extensions that have already been made available and the additional ones that will be rolling out soon to widen the market and increase the number of competitors in it.