Domain parkers and cybersquatters may be circling your web name right now. It’s part of your brand, so protect it. PAUL WALLBANK
By Paul Wallbank
The sale of pizza.com for two million dollars is a reminder businesses need to lock in their internet domain names now before the Australian rules change.
Currently it’s awkward, but not impossible, to sell a .com.au domain name, but the Australian domain administrator, auDA, has announced it will allow Australian names to be traded sometime this year.
When this change comes into effect we can expect to see a mini “land boom” with speculators grabbing names they think are likely to be worth something.
These internet speculators can be split into two groups; domain parkers and cybersquatters.
A cybersquatter is someone who grabs a good internet name and sits on it in the hope someone will offer them a fat load of cash for it.
Domain parkers are slightly different creatures, in that they put some generic information on the site and plaster it with advertising. This gives them a bit more respectability and a little income while they wait for a desperate sugar daddy to offer them two million dollars for the name.
Unlike some of the larger media outlets, I don’t admire these people. As an online business owner, I find them to be an obstacle to getting useful websites running. However their operations are legal and it’s an irritant we have to live with if we want to operate online.
Until now parkers and squatters haven’t been too much of a problem in Australia. The restrictions on selling domain names coupled with the requirement to have a close connection with the name you want to register have kept the trade under control.
This is unlike the free-for-all in the .com market, or the mess that is the .co.uk market where pretty well any useful site has long ago been claimed by the middlemen.
Thankfully we won’t be going fully down that path. In their wisdom, the good folk at the auDA have decided to retain the close connection rule and ban the registering of names simply with the intention of onselling them.
While those rules will slow the speculators, we can be pretty sure the smarter operators will get around these requirements. Once they have the domain, it’s a matter of paying up or going through the long, irritating and expensive process of disputing ownership.
So right now it’s a good investment to spend a hundred dollars claiming your domain name. If you have a good business or product name and you haven’t yet registered the domain to go with it, get your skates on.
Paul Wallbank is a writer, speaker and broadcaster on technology issues. He founded national support organisation PC Rescue in 1995 and has spent over 14 years helping businesses get the most from their IT investment. His PC Rescue and IT Queries websites provide free advice to business computer users and his monthly newsletter has over 3000 subscribers.
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Ozadonis writes: The Australian domain name landrush actually ended years ago. By changing the trading rules auDA is just opening the domain industry to traditional market conditions of supply and demand. From my experience the critical issue in Australia is accredited domain name registers picking off expiring domain names before they become available to the general public. This is a gross conflict of interest which is well known the domain industry.
MadMike writes: The biggest cybersquaters are multinational companies sitting on names and not using them.
James Omond writes: A cybersquatter is not someone who grabs a “good name” – but a name that rightfully belongs to someone else. And if you want to take action to get it back from them you have to show “bad faith” in its registration and use.
DomainBits.com writes: Yes, I find it an obstacle that people own cottages where I want to put my cottage, especially when they only use that cottage for a week or two during the summer. I find my neighbour’s backyard a big obstacle too, especially since he never uses it, and I have children who would love to run around in it. Man, those damn land squatters. Pity that it’s legal for them to own property. I’d much prefer a communist system, where, just because I need something… oh say, a domain name… I can have it. Pesky to have to pay for it, especially at market rates.
Geoff writes: Parkers and squatters can be useful. At least they are interested in selling a domain they have to someone who wants it badly enough to pay for it. I wonder which is worse for a business, having a parker register the domain you want and running generic ads on it until you buy it from them, or having a competitor own the domain and running a site about their brand on it? Or worse, a disgruntled customer who has registered your domain and puts up a website full of nasty feedback!
Jon writes: The secondary market is a legitimate industry and it creates liquidity in the domain market. The key to making sure you’re protected is to register all your brands, products, business names in .com.au and .net.au using a low cost provider like registerfree.com or TPP.