Defensive Registration

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Defensive Registration means registering multiple variants of domain names by a registrant across different TLDs for the primary purpose of protecting his or her intellectual property or trademark against domain name abuses particularly cybersquatting.[1] Based on the report entitled "Assessment of ICANN Preliminary Reports on Competition and Pricing" prepared by Michael Kende, an economist and head of Analysys Mason, defensive registration was defined as registration that is not unique, does not resolve, redirects traffic back to a core registration or does not contain unique content.[2]

ANA's Concern Over Defensive Registration

Various businesses and organizations particularly the members of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) and the Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO) perceived a great need for defensive registration once the new gTLDs will be implemented. They believe that the costs of defensive registration across all the new gTLDs will be burdensome to brand and trademark owners to make sure that their intellectual property are protected against cybersquatters. According to ANA, the heightened need for defensive registration was even highlighted by gTLD consultancy firms and registries on their service offerings. ANA cited Neustar, which offers .brand defensive registration and application and administration pricing package called Brand Assurance Package as an example.[3] [4] The concerns over defensive registration was brought out by ANA during the Congressional hearings on the new gTLD program. These concerns prompted [NTIA]] Assistant Secretary Larry Strickling to request ICANN to further educate the internet industry regarding the protections for new gTLDs and to resolve the scaremongering that trademark owners are being forced to defensively apply for dot-brand gTLDs. In his letter to ICANN, Strickling stated, "We think, and I am sure ICANN and its stakeholders would agree, that it would not be healthy for the expansion program if a large number of companies file defensive top-level applications when they have no interest in operating a registry. I suggest that ICANN consider taking some measures well before the application window closes to mitigate against this possibility." Furthermore, the NTIA chief directed ICANN to develop a mechanism to address the concerns regarding defensive registrations.[5]

ICANN's Actions on Defensive Registration Concerns

A New gTLD Program Committee composed of all non-conflicted voting members of the ICANN Board was established by the internet governing body to decide on issues related to the new gTLD program such as the concerns over the perceived need for defensive TLD applications for trademark owners to protect their intellectual property rights. ICANN also increased awareness regarding the program's protection mechanisms such as the objection process. In addition, the opened a public comment period to tackle the issue on defensive registration and to provide recommendations to resolve it. Furthermore, the New gTLD Program Committee "directs the staff to provide a briefing paper on the topic of defensive registrations at the second level and requests the GNSO to consider whether additional work on defensive registrations at the second level should be undertaken." [6] [7] The public comment period was implemented to increase the awareness about the available rights protection mechanisms, to encourage the internet community to provide their inputs regarding defensive applications and to show to the Congress that ICANN is taking appropriate actions to solve the problem. [8]


  1. Domain Name Defensive Registration
  2. AT&T Comments on Defensive Registrations for New gTLDs, February 27, 2012
  3. ANA Document of Defensive Registration
  4. Online Brawl
  5. Strickling drops last-minute bombshell on new gTLDs
  6. Approved Resolution | Meeting of the New gTLD Program Committee
  7. ICANN reopens defensive registration debate
  8. ICANN worried about defensive gTLDs