What a difference a few years can make. Even as early as 2020, most of the talk on domain names was around Top-Level Domain or TLDs such as .com, .net or .org. Now there’s a new star(s) in town.

It’s the launch of hundreds of new TLDs such as “.metaverse”, “.vr”, “.chain”, “.address”, “.web3” etc. These (interchangeably called Metaverse/NFT /Crypto domain names) are not even a part of the ICANN (with whom you register your “old” TLDs).

The introduction of these new TLDs could have a major impact on the way businesses market themselves online. It could also lead to an increase in cyber-squatting and trademark infringement.

What’s the difference you may ask? Rather than being maintained on a centralized server and controlled by a Domain Registrar these domain names are based on a blockchain and are completely decentralized and act as digital assets. Once you own an NFT domain, it does not require any renewal. The domain is yours forever unless you decide to resell or transfer it to another address.

But the risk is anyone could buy any metaverse domain associated with a trademark, public figure, or with a well-known brand.

Marketplaces like Quik.com offer metaverse TLDs. Here you can search for your domain name, and if it’s not registered or minted, you can register it for yourself. If it has been minted, you will need to buy it from the owner of the NFT domain name for an agreed price.

The future of domain names will be more complex and varied than in the past with more UDRP issues. Under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), domain owners can submit disputes to an arbitration panel if they believe that their trademark has been infringed by another party’s use of a similar or identical domain name. The panel will then review the evidence and decide whether the domain name should be transferred to the complainant or remain with the respondent.

It is important to note that the UDRP only applies to disputes concerning trademarks; it cannot be used to resolve other types of disputes, such as those involving copyright or trade secrets.

While the UDRP does not specifically mention Metaverse, it has been used in several cases involving dispute over trademarks in virtual worlds. In general, courts have found that the UDRP can be applied to disputes over trademarks in Metaverse, as long as the domain name at issue is identical or confusingly similar to the complainant’s trademark.

Currently, the usability of these technologies is still a long way from being consumer-friendly (also the reason why most brands ignore the buzz around them). But in a few years, they could be the central digital touchpoint between brands and their consumers. Thus, it’s important to act quickly on registering metaverse domains. Rather than viewing it as an expense, this could safeguard your business while opening up new monetization opportunities too.

By : Mrudula Manappatt