Trumping Domain Name Management

There’s been a number of stories in the media this week about the registration of the domain name donaldjtrump2024.com by two US comedians, setting up a holding page with the message “I lost the 2020 election”.

Whilst the registration of the domain name is mildly embarrassing for the outgoing 45th President of the United States of America and has caused some amusement at his misfortune, it is unlikely that it will bother him unduly. Trump is currently 74 years old and it is questionable that he will run again in 2024 (just in case you were planning on registering it, ivankatrump2024.com was registered in early 2019). However, it does raise the case of how far brand and trademark holders should go to protect their intellectual property.

It is inconceivable to expect any entity, whether a company or an individual, to register every possible brand, trademark and the variant of (including typos) in every available Top Level Domain – that would run into the thousands of registrations for a 5-character keyword alone, which is why it is vital to have a formalised domain name portfolio strategy in place that clearly defines the relevant registrations and TLDs that should be registered and what other terms should be monitored for nefarious activity.

Trump has used the same website, donaldjtrump.com, for many years having originally registered it back in 1997. The domain name is currently with GoDaddy and is not locked at the Registry level, potentially exposing it to heightened threats and risks of malicious redirection. Trump’s reelection campaign used this domain name for the election activity this year, as they had done four years previously when he ran against Hilary Clinton. A simple domain name monitoring solution for the keywords “Donaldjtrump” would have picked up the registration by comics Jason Selvig and Davram Stiefler and enabled his IP team to assess whether to take action prior to the publishing of the website.

Both major political parties in the US could use a relevant Top Level Domain with .Democrat and .Republican having both been launched some years ago. The domain DonaldJTrump.republican was registered by a third party in June 2020 although it currently doesn’t resolve but again it is a risk that the major keyword term in a relevant TLD has been registered by a third party.

Trump and his various business interests have applied for over 1,000 trademarks since the late 1980s, according to CNBC, but it is unlikely that there will be matching domain names for them all which does expose this business interests to risk of cyber and typosquatting which highlights the importance of having a formalised domain name strategy.

Trump isn’t the first and most certainly won’t be the last high profile individual to allow third parties to register in their “term”. Madonna famously successfully filed a UDRP to reclaim Madonna.com twenty years ago, actress Jennifer Lopez also won infringing domains through dispute resolution as too did Paris Hilton after allowing exact match registrations by taking their eye of the ball.

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