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Domain TLD and Trademark Myths

Jul 29, 2008
I started buying and selling domain names in 1995. Domain speculation began sometime in 1994. I did appraisals and was one of the biggest advocates for registering generic domain names rather than made-up names or those that violated trademarks.

I made a good income from my domains because I did not just sell domain names, I sold domain names that had a business plan and a website while others were just trying to sell their domain names with no traffic, no business plan and no website.

Today many are still doing it that way. Although now they park them at SEDO or Go Daddy or somewhere to try to make adsense revenue while they list them for sale. So my background in domain names is good enough that I can dispel a few myths.

First TLD stands for Top Level Domain. .COM, .NET, .ORG are all examples of TLDs. The domain name most people refer to is what goes before the dot. The TLD is what comes after the dot.

These are some Common Myths about Domain Names;

.TV is for television or multimedia websites. Pure myth. Any domain name in any TLD can work for television, video, or multimedia. The TLD .TV does not give you any special tools for creating multimedia-rich content. .TV does not stand for television. It is the ccTLD or country-code TLD for Tuvalu Island. An island in the pacific that had no real use for owning a TLD so they sold the rights to sell domain names on their TLD to a company that leads people to believe it stands for television. It works. People buy them and use them and associate them with television and that is ok. It's just a myth that .TV was created to mean television.

Another Domain Name Myth: If you want to build websites that people can access by their cell phone or PDA you need to get a .MOBI domain name. Just like dot tv does not give you any special capability for television or multimedia, dot mobi does not give you any special tools for mobile-capable websites. Any website on any TLD can provide content to cell phones and PDAs if it is made compatible for them. Many will lead you to believe that dot mobi somehow gives you the advantage when it comes to cell phones and PDAs. it doesn't.

.ME Domain Names Myth: Coming soon to a domain registrar near you. Soon domain names will be marketing for the TLD dot ME. They will market them as great domain names for personal websites. They may be. But it was not created as such. It is the Country-code top-level domain designated for Montenegro.

.PN Domain Names: I own Blogs.pn. I would love to tell you it stands for Publisher network or something like that but it doesn't. It is the Country-code top-level domain designated for Pitcairn Island. Another pacific island that did not have much use for a TLD so someone was authorized to sell dot pn domain names.

Soon ICANN will be allowing more TLDs to be created and domain names will be marketed in these new TLDs. More and more countries will also offer domain names for sale in their ccTLDs. So the market will be opening up and it may be confusing to some. The truth is what comes before the dot matters most. Getting a domain name in a TLD that makes sense to users can help you though.

Shorter Domain Names are better than Long Domain Names Myth: Only in certain circumstances is a shorter domain name better than a long domain name. Many domain gurus disagree. I don't care. They talk about people being able to remember your domain name. Truthfully more traffic comes from people clicking links in search engines, on other websites, and on social bookmarking sites than comes from people who type in the domain name.

What is more important is that the domain name help you capture a phrase you want to target in the search engines. I can give you a ton of examples where having the exact phrase you want in the domain name has helped get a top position in Google and other search engines. So if the phrase is longer, do not abbreviate it just because you heard shorter domain names are better. Get the phrase you want to target.

If you are planning to advertise your domain name OFFLINE, in advertising on TV, radio, or even magazines and newspapers, shorter domain names ARE better. Offline, people have to be able to remember your domain name.

The best of both worlds: If most of your traffic comes from the web, shorter means very little. To cover both, get a domain name that matches your key phrase and put your website on that domain name. Then get a second domain name that is short and catchy and redirect or point it to the same website. Use the shorter-easy-to-remember domain name for your offline marketing and the domain that matches your key phrase for the search engines.

Anything other than a dot COM is worthless Myth: This is a favorite myth spread everywhere. It is based on the same myths about shorter domain names. If people have to remember it, then yes, they do remember dot com more often. If you are doing offline marketing, use a dot com.

Online your website can be on any TLD. People are clicking links. So again, get the domain name that matches your key phrase for your website whether it is on .com, net, org, tv, pn, cc, ws, or whatever. Start with dot com, try your phrase. If it is taken, move to the next TLD and try your phrase again. If it is taken, repeat your attempts to register until you find a TLD that your phrase IS available in and register it in that TLD.

These are some Myths about Trademarks and Domain Names;

Domain Name VS Trademark Myth #1: If I own a trademark I need to register my trademarked name in every TLD. Pure Myth and a worthless, time-consuming strategy promoted by Intellectual Property Lawyers who need to justify what you are paying them.

Domain Name VS Trademark Myth #2: When you register a trademark, you have to choose a classification for that trademark such as "entertainment television", "clothing and apparel", "beverages", etc.

You do not own the phrase you trademark. You are being allowed to use that trademark in commerce within the classification you chose. Someone else can register the same exact trademark and choose a different classification.

In addition to that, the geographical area you registered your mark in only covers that area. Someone could have the same trademark in the same classification in a different geographical location.

So again, you do not own the phrase you trademarked, so no need to register every TLD in existence. It could even be construed as anti-competitive business practice to do so.

Domain Name VS Trademark Myth #3: If you chose the trademark, "goofball lawyer stuff" and chose the classification "clothing and apparel", I could still register the domain name http://goofballlawyerstuff.com or net or org or whatever.

As long as I do not sell clothing or apparel, link to anyone who sells clothing and apparel, or try to confuse people into believing my website is owned by you, I have not violated your trademark rights. Get over it.

I hope this helps you dispel a few of the most common domain name and trademark myths you may have been reading about.
About the Author
Chris McElroy aka NameCritic has been involved in domain names and Internet marketing since 1995. Visit his SEO Blog, his SEO Website , or SEO Hosting Provider for more information.
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