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Should You Register Business 'Nickname' Domains?

May 31, 2013

Many businesses wind up with nicknames - should those be registered as domain names too?

If your business or website has a substantial following, it may be that your customers and supporters have come up with a nickname for the brand and perhaps they may even try entering that nickname into their browser.

Probably one of the better known business nicknames in Australia is "Macca's" - short for McDonald's. In this example, McDonald's has actually registered the name; but interestingly, hasn't redirected it to their main site - visiting just brings up a browser error.

Why has McDonald's bothered with registering their nickname if they aren't going to use it? This is most likely to prevent others from doing so - particularly cybersquatters; practical jokers, fraudsters or those with an axe to grind.

While cybersquatting isn't so prevalent on domain names due to quite stringent registration criteria, when it comes to .com and other generic TLD's, it can be more of a free-for-all. A complaint can be filed under the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), but it's time consuming to try and regain a name and rather costly to pursue - and being a nickname, the battle may be even tougher if the nickname hasn't also been trademarked. 

An article on SearchEngineWatch looks at the issue in more detail and shows examples where big name brands are yet to register their "street" names as domains. While McDonalds in Australia may be on the ball, it appears its parent in the USA isn't so much - with a number of nicknames having been snapped up by others.

For the small business owner, registering a nickname will depend on how popular that nickname is among its clients. If budget allows, it certainly wouldn't hurt to do so; but if it doesn't - it's probably not something that should keep a merchant awake at nights.

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