Cybersquatting gTLDsAs was widely predicted, the launch of the all-new global top level domain (gTLD) names this week has led to a new spate of cybersquatting.

Cybersquatting is a technique used by speculators to try and sell their domain holding at significant gain by registering addresses similar to known brand names. The idea is that businesses lose out on valuable web traffic because Internet users visit the “wrong” site, so they willingly pay over the odds to secure rights to that domain name.

HSBC, John Lewis and Burberry are among the high profile UK companies thought to have fallen victim to the scam with the release of the new gTLDs. The .web versions of their URLs have all been registered this week, however none of them were by the actual brand. ICANN who oversee domain name registrations globally report that 80% of .web addresses have been registered by third parties who have no rights to the brand names they are copying. There are similarly high levels of cybersquatting in the .blog, .online, .app and .shop address spaces.

Although the gTLD ‘gold rush’ was widely expected to cause these problems, commentators were surprised that ICANN statistics suggest that British businesses do not control over half of the original 22 TLD web addresses.,, and are all registered website addresses, but they are not owned the named company.

British companies are therefore being urged to register their trademarks with ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse as soon as possible to prevent further fraudulent registrations.

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