Squatters pounce on .NYC domain names, New York Jets and other names up for sale

Well, that was fast. New York City’s shiny new “.NYC” internet addresses have been on sale barely a week, and already they’re being peddled by hustlers and opportunists.

Take the website “NewYorkJets.nyc,” for example. Registry records show the name is not owned by the hapless football team but someone named Jon Calman, who lives in New Rochelle. And Jon is willing to sell that name to the team, or anyone else who wishes to buy it:

NewYorkJets screenshot

Meanwhile, other random individuals have grabbed names like “Yankeesbaseball.NYC” and “NewYorkGiants.NYC,” according to Stuart Fuller, an executive with the brand management firm NetNames. Fullers adds that 80 percent of of the approximately 27,000 .NYC domains registers so far don’t resolve to a website — and likely never will.

“People registering the name have no intention of using them. They’re opportunists who play the system,” said Fuller, noting that the new city-based names (.NYC joins .Berlin and .London) are another opportunity for scammers and cyber-squatters.

Not everyone is using the .NYC sites in bad faith, of course, and the new domain names can be useful since so many “.com” names were claimed long ago. The media, however, almost invariably overlooks the downsides of the new names, and tends instead to parrot the marketing language of the domain name industry, such as “land rush” and “new real estate.”

Such accounts rarely mention the burden placed on brand owners of policing the new names. Indeed, some companies complained of “extortion” when ICANN — the bungling agency that oversees domain names — trotted out the “.xxx” domain, requiring companies like Disney to pay for an account it didn’t want, or else see the name sold to a cyber-squatter.

The city of New York, meanwhile, has in the past given little attention to the trademark issues at stake, preferring instead to bask in the digital hype that comes with stories about the “.NYC” name.

If it’s any consolation to brand owners, ICANN has finally created a “Uniform Rapid Suspension” system, which forces registries to suspend sites that appear to infringe trademarks (though the process does not allow the brands to take possession of the name for themselves). Otherwise, brand owners must rely on an adjudication system that can cost thousands of dollars — which led many companies to conclude it was simply easier to pay the cyber-squatter instead.