As can be seen by a WIPO & NAF serach using DomainFight.net, cybersquatting .me domains was a popular pastime in 2008 including trademark protected domains owned by Porsche, Exxon Mobil, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, America Online, Mozilla Corporation and The Coca-Cola Company. This does not include the threat letters sent out by trademark holders, which in many instaces cause a behind the scenes and unreported transfer of domains.
As noted over at The Domains blog "Toyota.Me Sell for 90K: Why Shouldn’t a Registry Be Liable for Profiting From the Sale of Trademark Infringing Domains?" Each time a new domain extension is introduced, it simply creates a brand new platform for domain name cybersquatting. It is even worse when the Registry offering the domains thorough auction or otherwise end up reaping the initial financial rewards of obvious trademark infringement. Where is the accountability? Why hasn't ICANN done anythign to make registries and registrars more accountable for trademark issues?
In their comments to ICANN concerning the new domain extensions, The Domains blog makes an important point. If the number of domain extensions, gTLD’s, is greatly expanded, how will trademark holders, celbrities, famous people and others protect themselves from bad faith cybersquatting? See Open Letter To ICANN: Our Take On the New Domain Extensions
We have already seen in the rollout of the .me extension many clearly trademark terms sell for thousands of dollars and tens of thousands of dollars to other than the trademark holders. This is an embarrassment to all those in the domain industry and it is ICANN failure to pass rules to prevent registries from auctioning off trademarked terms, that allowed this to happen. To date the highest price paid for a .me domain is Toyota. Me for $90,000 to a company with no right to the domain. Moreover several of these .me domains that sold in the thousands of dollars have already been taken in WIPO proceeding. Allowing registries to sell domains of famous trademarks and keep the profits from the sale, is a basic flaw in ICANN policies, which undermines ICANN credibility and the entire domain system.
Trademark holders are already under attack, with most high traffic web sites containing hundreds of typos and literal infringement using other gTLDs beyond .com. Courts are holding that a failure to protect your trademark rights may be a waiver of those trademark rights. Companies are forced to chase after these traffic and brand thieves in order to extend and protect their intellectual propoerty value. New domain extensions won't make that job any easier.
If you wish to comment to ICANN, here are the e-mail addresses to submit them to: