Bart Mortelmans

Bart Mortelmans of discusses the importance of SSL certificates, how brands are handling new gTLDs, and whether the TMCH has been a success

How has the SSL landscape changed? What does this mean for IP and website owners?

These days, browsers and search engines are frequently pushing visitors towards websites that support SSLs (secure socket layers) in an attempt to provide consumers with more trustworthy options. While this may not have a direct impact on IP protection, it is important information for any marketing department that wants to prove that its brand is safe. SSL certificates are becoming cheaper to obtain too, and Google has even said that it gives higher rankings to websites with SSL certificates in search results, making them an important tool for providing confidence in your website.

Extended validation (EV) certificates are also more accessible now and not too expensive for the average webshop. The EV certificate will give you a clear visual advantage with a green address bar that indicates your website can be trusted.

Have trademark holders come to terms with new gTLDs?

The confusion regarding new gTLDs has somewhat settled now even though it still isn’t completely clear what to expect from them. But everybody does agree it is too expensive to register your trademark under every possible TLD. So, some work is involved in following up on a TLD’s launch and handpicking those very few that are actually relevant for your product or service. It’s now possible to register your brand under an extension that reflects your core business, for instance, .insurance, .bank and .hosting, or to show where your office is located through the likes of .london, .nyc, or .paris.

Internet users tend to be conservative and continue to use what they are comfortable with. Almost everywhere in the world, the local country code TLDs are still the real must have for your domain name. Users stick to country codes they are familiar with, so Belgians will focus on .be, Chinese will visit .cn sites, Germans expect .de and the British public will look for a One of the only exceptions is the US, where they are more accustomed to .com names.

In those country code TLDs, changes happen slowly. With the launch of direct .uk registrations, many assumed that all websites would quickly make the switch to the shorter .uk variant. Two years later, it turns out that hardly anybody has switched and most of the UK still assumes a website address will end in

The most important new gTLD will probably be .shop. This is an extension we recommend to everyone who sells something online. It’s an international, short, clear and easy-to-remember extension for which we’ve already received many applications.

Was Trademark Clearinghouse a success or a failure, in your opinion?

Based on the reasonably small number of trademarks applied for in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), it was clearly not the success they were hoping for. Regrettably, they have not been able to completely prevent abuse: domainers have been able to register generic words and fake the proof in order to get first dibs on new extensions during the domain registration sunrise period.

Nevertheless, TMCH was a necessary evil. For trademark holders it was a good thing for sunrise validation to be centralised, even though pricing hadn’t really lowered. Most registries were still happy charge higher fees to trademark holders, even though they had no real validation costs to carry. Despite this, centralisation did save lots of time and effort.

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