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Wilf's post a while ago about domain registration spam from China generated a bunch of questions from customers concerned about protecting their brand, trademarks, and reputation.  One of the services we offer is domain portfolio management but with over 1500 Top Level Domains (TLD's) to choose from, you will need very deep pockets to cover all of your bases.  Here are a few things you should consider when registering and protecting your domain names.

When advising clients we always take a pragmatic approach:  What is the potential damage? What is it worth as an insurance policy?  What are the possible benefits?  We spend many thousands of dollars a year to protect us against fire, theft, and liability that could put our entire business at risk so what is a few dollars more for some extra domains?

TLD variants

.COM is King. If you have the .com for your brand or company name and are using it, it is unlikely that someone else is going to register the same name with a different extension and try and launch a legitimate business in a similar business.  The bigger risk of course is that a variant will be purchased by scammers who can use the domain name for phishing or for other malicious purposes.  The risk increases with the size of your brand, but then again, if you are Nike, chances are you are not worried about spending a few thousand dollars a year on domain names!

If our customers ask, we recommend that they register the most popular domain TLD's just to be safe.  The risk of market confusion diminishes as you get to less popular domain names.  If you have a .com and promote it on all of your material, then someone is not likely to confused by a .info or a .biz which are used by less then 1% of web sites.  .com is used by 47% of all web sites.  (You can view the stats here).  

We recommend registering national extensions within your current or prospective markets if they are common.  While not used by nearly as many businesses in total, they can have a strong regional presence but many have restrictions on who can actually register them.  .CA is quite popular in Canada as are .jp,, and .de but .us is rarely used.

Niche Variants

Of the 1500 TLD's there are a few that are gaining popularity.  Many are obvious and extend the common .edu or .org to things like  .movie & .game but there are also new ones like .eco that allow brands to position themselves in crowded markets.  .Eco can be registered by anyone, but to use it for your web site, you have to answer a questionnaire and be approved as having a green agenda and product.  We recommend that these niche domains be registered and used as your primary domain if it is on brand for you.  There is little benefit to us to register to protect our brand.

Spelling Variants

If your primary domain name is hard to spell or prone to mishearing, it can be useful to register phonetic or typo variants to ensure you get the traffic that is looking for you.  For example, we registered and it does get regular traffic.

Future Growth

If you have a landscape business in Williams Lake, BC, chances are you don't need to worry about market confusion and protecting your brand with a .cn domain.  If you manufacture a product and have a plan to expand globally, protecting your brand with a handful of major TLD's could be useful and could add value to your brand in the future.


The larger your brand the more prone you are to trolls who might want to setup sites to damage your brand.  It doesn't take much for someone to register or something similar and put up a bunch of negative information.   It can take a while to track the owner down and get the site removed and in the meantime your brand could suffer.  Only you can determine if that is a risk but we have been surprised at how far people will go when they feel slighted or are angry at a brand.   There is actually a .sucks TLD that was setup recently and their entire marketing is based around charging large brands huge fees to protect their brands in perpetuity.  In our opinion allowing the TLD was a huge mistake and an obvious cash grab.


A few extra domain names is a good idea.  It is cheap insurance and can save headaches in the future but your investment should be based on the needs of your business and assessment of risks

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