Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight, or CRIDO, released a plan they called a "peacemaker" three days before the Jan. 12th, 2012 launch, which would allow brands to begin the ICANN application process but would allow organizations and companies the opportunity to place their brand names, without cost, on a temporary "do not sell" list. ICANN so far has not responded to the "do not sell" list, and CRIDO is getting restless and threatening lawsuits.
According to CRIDO, their members represent some 10,000 brand names, so let's evaluate the makeup of this highly desirable "do not sell" list, but first, the three typical brand name groups in the marketplace:
1. Hassle-free names that are on a solid footing. For example: Microsoft, IBM, Nokia, Toyota, Intel, Disney, BMW, Gillette, Honda, Google, Cisco, Honda, Sony, Nike, Ikea, Nintendo or Gucci.)
2. Troublesome names that carry varying degrees of confusion. For example: GE, BT, CA, SK, or LG. Major brand names with two-letter names run into difficulty, as two-letter suffixes are reserved for countries, like .jp for Japan. Names like iSong, Citi, AIG, UMS or MPC types will require special scrutiny to stay clear from any confusion with other users. Names that come in two or more parts, like Mercedes Benz, Merrill Lynch, Harley Davidson, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Hewlett Packard — such names may pass, but two-word names are overly cumbersome in usability.
3. Borderline disaster names — those that are simultaneously used by hundreds or thousands of unrelated entities, making it difficult to claim exclusive ownership. (For example: United, Premier, Delta, National and so on.)
Please do not be shocked that only a minuscule percentage is made up of hassle-free names. Incidentally, in applying the nomenclature rules, the majority of CRIDO brand names would be considered "troublesome" or outright "disaster" names. However, it's also important to note that at one time, what we now call borderline disaster names were fashionable, but over time they either became generic or lost their distinction through mergers and acquisitions. Most importantly, last-century thinking was much less global, and last-millennial tools of image expansion were not as cheap and freely accessible as today.
So now brand owners have two choices: Either walk on a tightrope and adopt a workable name to cross the global digital chasm, or simply do nothing and let the diluted name identity hang the image to a slow death.
This is where CRIDO's "do not sell" list gets sticky. First, how do you determine the real owners of a name like National or United? Second, what kind of marketing geniuses will chase after such weak names that they'd require CRIDO's "do not sell" protection? Ideally, such names should be on a "please do not ever buy list" for being almost useless and for having extremely high maintenance costs.
If such a list were ever compiled, would CRIDO indirectly admit the fallacies on behalf of their industry and expose the hardcore problems of the global naming and trademarking chaos? Is CRIDO simply trying to provide a soft landing to millions of dysfunctional brand names already sucking oxygen as you read this?
For example, according to Superbrands, a brand ranking company, in 2011, "Autoglass is a leading consumer automotive service brand, providing vehicle glass repairs and replacements to more than 1.5 million motorists every year. With the widest-reaching auto glazing network in the U.K. and Ireland, Autoglass has over 100 branches nationwide and 1,300 mobile service units operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Autoglass is part of Belron group, operating in 33 countries with a team of more than 10,000 highly skilled technicians."
This is great achievement for a high-profile regional company. Assume they also try the gTLD .autoglass, to allow them a more localized global agents' network with the issuance of tens of thousands of sub-domain names around the world. Such localized customer touchpoint branding would open up mass customer acquisition. But would it be possible under this name?
As you stretch the brand name "autoglass" or "auto glass" on the global canvas, the name starts to tear. Its generic nature and the massive brand dilution created by thousands of other companies around the world using "auto glass" devalues this brand name to no more than a "generic description." Where, then, should it be listed in a "do not sell" list or, more appropriately, "please do not ever buy" list, or perhaps each?
The corporate world is full of such names hanging in purgatory, where they have acquired partial authority in certain markets but will never have enough to power play in the global arena. The boardroom needs the answers to who are the beneficiaries of such bad names and why such issues are not on top of the agendas.
Here is another example of "Nationwide," according to Superbrand 2011:
"Nationwide is more than 160 years old and is now the world's largest building society. Unlike its bank competitors it has no shareholders, so its only focus is its 14 million members. This 'proud to be different' approach has helped it to become the U.K.'s third-largest mortgage and savings provider, with a quarter of U.K. households having a relationship with the society."
How many organizations are called "Nationwide" around the globe? Please do not guess, as it may give you that sinking feeling.
According to various studies by, ABC Namebank, on global naming dilution, when you observe that "there are 100 most diluted names around the world in use by some 100 million businesses," a logic-defying picture of waste emerges. The century-old models start showing cracks, and the need for a single universal name clearance solution appears to be the most logical solution.
ICANN's proposal for a single global trademark clearance house is a very bold step forward. Such moves must overcome the fragmented trademark procedures as I've discussed in a recently released book 'Domination, the gLTD name game'
No matter what action ICANN takes, it's highly recommended that such a "do not sell" list must be compiled by CRIDO in any case, so the corporate world can witness the chaos and abuse of naming and trademarking, and hopefully acquire some "please do not ever buy" lessons.
By Naseem Javed, Expert: Global Naming Complexities, Corporate Nomenclature, Image & Branding. He is the founder of ABC Namebank, author of 'Domination: The GTLD Name Game', syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and specialist on global naming complexities.
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