Vidahost is warning that now .ltd is generally available trademark holders need to take control of their .ltd domain to prevent a valuable web property being taken over by cybersquatters. From the 12th of June people have been able to register a .ltd as part of an early access programme but from today they will be made generally available to any organisation on a first come, first-served basis, whether they have a valid claim to it or not.
Dan Rodgers, Head of Domains at Vidahost commented: "The release of the .ltd domain is part of ICANN's plans to bring 1300 new gTLDs to the market to meet the growing demand for domains by businesses and individuals. While businesses clearly won't buy all of the gTLDs available, .ltd is one they will need to give more thought to due to the risk of cybersquatting and the potential damage to their brand. The .ltd name goes hand in hand with the Ltd. suffix used by businesses to identify themselves as private limited companies, so some website visitors may associate any site with an .ltd domain as a legitimate business. This is why it's important for businesses to act now to prevent cybersquatters appropriating their identities, siphoning traffic and running scams. Unfortunately we live in a world where there are people out there that will hold you to ransom or set up a competitor site using your brand equity, so businesses need to act now to protect themselves."
The World Intellectual Property Organisation recently reported that cybersquatting increased in 2015 as a result of the new gTLDs, comprising 10.5% of the organisation's caseload for the year. The new .ltd gTLD is set to cause further damage as cybersquatters leap at this new opportunity. According to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, there are 1.6m actively trading private sector companies in the UK, the vast majority of which would be registered as Ltd's. As such, .ltd cybersquatting could create a stressful situation for limited companies; impacting revenues for smaller businesses already accepting losses in their first few years of trading or significantly damaging the reputation of larger enterprises that have spent years investing in in their brand equity.
Rodgers continued: "Brands stand to waste considerable time and effort restoring brand equity through cybersquatting, so it should be a no-brainer to register now. Registering an .ltd domain can be done at the click of a button and costs are minimal compared to the potential damage of not registering. Companies should take action now and avoid giving cybersquatters an easy ride."