If I asked you "Why does your brand name require protection?" you would not find that to be an intelligent question. The domain name that you use for your ecommerce website is as strongly related to your identity, as your brand name is. Over a period of time, it will be the popularity of your domain name that brings in the business.
In the short run, you could rely on paid traffic, ppc ads, SEO, or other methods to get you business. In the long run, a successful ecommerce business must stand on its own legs. Over-reliance on search traffic, or increasingly expensive ppc ads, might not present a scalable plan for your ecommerce venture.
The most successful ecommerce businesses are also, naturally, the strongest ecommerce brands. In most cases, the brand name of the ecommerce business as well as its domain name is the same, e.g., Amazon.com, eBay.com, Staples.com, and the like.
If you are one of the top ecommerce business, congratulations! But if you are like the tens of thousands others, you may use domain names containing generic English words, e.g., ReallyCoolGizmos.com.
If they keep at it, even the generic names become famous brands over a period of time. As a result, an ecommerce business should regard its domain name as one of its most important assets. And the most important asset must be protected.
Trademarked Domain Name
Though trademark legislation is available in most territories around the world, enforcing the legislation can be laborious and expensive. That is why most serious online businesses end up purchasing many, if not all, TLDs for their domain name.
Imagine that Amazon.com did not book its domain names every where, and someone else booked amazon.xyz. That domain name owner might pretend to be Amazon.com in the territory that has .xyz as its TLD. This could be quite harmful to Amazon.com. As a result, Amazon.com will be keen to register this domain name at the earliest.
Generic Keyword Domain Names
The problem with scamsters imitating your domain names on other TLDs gets much worse when it comes to domain names that are not trademarks. For instance, if your ecommerce business has the domain name: FancyHandmadePaper.com, someone could try to steal away the value that your domain name has amassed by registering, say, FancyHandmadePaper.net.
In cases where your domain names include generic English words, even litigation may not be able to protect your domain name. Worse, if the offending party mentions in their disclaimer that, "we are not related to FancyHandmadePaper.com; our website is called FancyHandmadePaper.net as we sell fancy handmade paper," then your case gets weaker.
To avoid getting into the murky area of litigating against malicious domain name buyers, it might make sense for you to immediately procure many different TLDs for your domain name. For most TLDs, a domain name is available for $10 to $30 a year. Even if you had to buy a couple of dozen domain names, the expenditure might turn out to be affordable for several ecommerce businesses.
Typo Domain Names
If your domain name is Amazon.com, a customer might actually key-in Amazone.com (notice the extra 'e') in a web browser. Based on the logic we established earlier, it might make sense for you to register at least the .com versions of common misspellings of your domain names.
Protecting Your Domain Name From Expiry
You would be amazed by the number of large ecommerce businesses that 'forget' to renew their domain name. This seemingly unforgivable blunder can be explained by a simple fact. In most cases ecommerce businesses end up registering domain names for a long period of time, say 10 years. As a result, renewing a domain name ceases to be an activity that they have scheduled.
Sooner or later the period of registration expires. Though domain name registrars send out email warnings, old email addresses may no longer be valid. And the result is that the domain name expires.
Make sure to maintain some kind of a schedule of renewing domain names to prevent this mishap.
- Some of the domain names mentioned in this article: ReallyCoolGizmos.com, FancyHandmadePaper.com, and FancyHandmadePaper.net are mentioned only as an illustration of an idea. At the time of writing this article, no one owned these domain names.
- At the time of writing this article, Amazone.com was a domain name registered by Amazon.com. But Googol.com was not registered by Google. Given that the word Google was inspired by "Googol," this is something that Google most likely regrets.