As a business owner and a domain flipper I often get to see both sides of the story when it comes to domain squatting. I see domains being caught and bought with the sole purpose of sitting on them until they can be sold for very high profits. I also can understand the frustration at business owners seeing their key business domains being unused.
Register your domains first
This is the first step for me with any new project or venture. Try and secure a clean and available domain name for your brand. If you can register the domain before any domain squatters are aware of it then you have already took a major step in securing your brand.
- Register .com if available.
- Register both .co.uk and .uk to avoid squatters.
- Register domain names of your key products or trade names.
- If you operate in other countries look at acquiring country level domains (e.g. .ie, fr, es, it)
Register a trademark
Registering a trademark will give you ownership of the brand or phrase and the legal legitimacy to act on squatters. Without a trademark you will struggle to enforce any action on cyber or domain squatters.
It’s relatively simple and the last time I checked it cost around £100.
Grab your social media @usernames
Social media usernames can be just as valuable as domains. It’s important to register your Twitter and Facebook social media profiles as soon as possible. This instantly prevents any cyber squatters from registering the usernames and will save you a lot of time and hassle in the future. Even if you don;t plan to use them just yet, register them as soon as possible and keep the accounts active.
A Nominet dispute is almost your last line of defense. If someone owns or has registered a domain that you feel your business is entitled to then you can open a dispute process through Nominet. It costs £750 to open a dispute and there’s no guarantee you will get your domain even after all the money and paperwork.
It’s not the end of the world
If your domain is being squatted on and you can’t reach an agreement with the owner, it’s not the end of the world. Here’s a couple of options:
- Register an alternative domain. If the .co.uk is taken try and register the .co.uk
- Consider using a new domain (e.g. .shop, .online, .design, .agency)
- Add your business description or type to your domain. If you can’t register Sallys.co.uk. How about SallysFlorist.co.uk or SallysFlowers.co.uk
You need to and a way round and get creative. Don’t let domain squatters stop you launching your product or running your business.