Beginning July 20, 2010, the registry operator of the .co top-level domain, .CO Internet S.A.S., is making .co domains available to the general public through registers such as GoDaddy.com, Network Solutions, and Register.com. The move opens the .co top-level domain, which was once the country code top-level domain (“ccTLD”) for Colombia, to the general public.
Research carried out on behalf of .CO Internet S.A.S revealed that 75 percent of web users said they associated .co with “company,” “corporation,” or other commercial endeavors. More than twenty countries, including the United Kingdom (.co.uk) and Japan (.co.jp), already use .co domains for their ccTLD’s. Further, nearly 70 percent of the brands listed in the Brand Finance Top 500 have already been pre-registered as .co domain names, including Amazon, American Express, Apple, BMW, Cartier, Canon, CNN, Coca-Cola, Disney, eBay, Exxon, Ford, Google, Hilton, Honda, IBM, IKEA, Kodak, McDonalds, Microsoft, MTV, Nestle, Nike, Nokia, Panasonic, Pfizer, Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, Toyota, Unilever, Visa, Yahoo, and others.
Clearly, the new availability of .co domain names offers brand owners a substantial opportunity to preempt cybersquatting and secure domain names associated with their trademarks. Further, securing brand-affiliated .co domain names may drive Internet traffic and generate consumer brand awareness.
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Alexis Payne is an attorney with Pattishall, McAuliffe, Newbury, Hilliard & Geraldson LLP, a leading intellectual property law firm based in Chicago, Illinois. Pattishall McAuliffe represents both plaintiffs and defendants in trademark, copyright, and unfair competition trials and appeals, and advises its clients on a broad range of domestic and international intellectual property, advertising, and media matters, including brand protection, Internet, and e-commerce issues. Pattishall McAuliffe also counsels clients on defamation, invasion of privacy, and other matters involving the First Amendment. Ms. Payne’s practice focuses on advertising, promotional marketing, media, First Amendment, and intellectual property law.