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Leveraging Trademark Data to Drive Domain Name Strategy

Elisa Cooper

For years, corporate domain name portfolio managers have struggled with determining whether or not their portfolios were the "right" size. Managers of mature domain name portfolios have often felt that their portfolios were bloated, containing domains that were no longer needed. Conversely, domain managers of newer portfolios have sometimes known that gaps existed. Regardless, the question remains — just how many domains should a corporate portfolio contain?

Undoubtedly, trademark registrations are a leading indicator of domain portfolio size. That said, industry also plays a major role in determining what and where a company should register, as some industries are more prone to cybersquatting, impersonation, and abuse. Given these factors, Brandsight conducted research to better understand domain-to-trademark ratios.

By looking at USPTO registrations in combination with the results of Reverse WHOIS lookups for top apparel, automotive, pharmaceutical, Internet, telco and media companies, some interesting ratios emerged.

As expected, Internet companies had by far the most domain name registrations per trademark — with an average of 60 domains registered for every USPTO trademark registration. Given that these are some of the most highly-trafficked domain names in the world and most often squatted, this makes perfect sense.

Surprisingly, pharmaceutical companies had the fewest number of domains registered on a per trademark basis, with just under 12 domains registered for every USPTO trademark registration. Upon further investigation though, due to regulatory approval processes, many more pharmaceutical trademarks are registered than ever come to market, resulting in this lower trademark-to-domain ratio.

The research conducted also revealed that:

  • Telco companies on average register 20 domains for every 1 USPTO TM registration
  • Media companies on average register 17 domains for every 1 USPTO TM registration
  • Financial services companies on average register 17 domains for every 1 USPTO TM registration
  • Apparel companies on average register 14 domains for every 1 USPTO TM registration
  • Automotive companies on average register 12 domains for every 1 USPTO TM registration

Measuring the effectiveness of a portfolio based solely upon the number of registrations would be misguided to say the least, and other factors like traffic and site resolution are critical in assessing the value of a domain portfolio. That said, these ratios (while imperfect) do provide some guidelines and a basis for comparison, as companies continue to search for the "right" portfolio size.

By Elisa Cooper, SVP Marketing and Policy at Brandsight, Inc.
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Need Valuations Alex Tajirian  –  Mar 29, 2018 7:44 AM PDT

Companies need to estimate a domain name’s net value before registering it, irrespective of whether it is for trademark protection or a doorway; industry distinctions are irrelevant. Without such a calculation companies would either over- or under-register domains.

On the other hand, owners of investment portfolios need to look at the historical performance of clusters of comparable domains. They should acquire more of the high growth clusters. (They can use the sale of low growth clusters to finance acquisitions.)

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