The console wars are heating up, but there’s just one problem: the three major companies don’t own the matching domains to their next-generation consoles.
Nintendo doesn’t own WiiU.com, Sony doesn’t own Playstation4.com, and Microsoft doesn’t own Xbox720.com.
Will the companies submit a domain dispute, file an anti-cybersquatting lawsuit, or pay a large sum of cash to get the domains? Well, it’s unknown whether Sony, Microsoft or Nintendo are considering any of these options, but what is known is that owning the domain names couldn’t their hurt online marketing efforts as the console wars heat up.
That being said, how are the domain names being used today?
Today, Playstation4.com re-directs to PSX Extreme, a video game website that has been covering Sony Playstation news for years. PSXExtreme.com and Playstation4.com are both owned by Poise Media Inc., according to WHOIS records. The domain was first registered in 1998, but Poise Media didn’t acquire the name until late 2008.
Xbox720.com is registered to a Jeremiah Germany of New York, who monetizes the domain using Google Adsense for Domains. Over the years, the domain has been host to a number of different sites ranging from a Les Paul guitars site in 2006 to a Google Custom Search page in 2008. However, since 2009 it appears the owner of Xbox720.com has been earning money using Google Adsense for Domains.
The owner of WiiU.com, who remains hidden behind WHOIS privacy, has the site set up as a Shopping.com affiliate web page. I wrote about WiiU.com back in June, after Nintendo announced the console at E3 without owning the domain. In August, Nintendo filed nearly 20 trademark applications (several including images) with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for the word Wii U.
All three console companies have used a variety of methods in the past to reclaim trademarked names, and in recent years, they have often filed complaints under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP).
In nearly all the complaints, the domain names have been ordered transferred. So given the track record to date, it’s likely when the trademark lawyers finally get around to going after these domains, they’ll use the UDRP.
Recently, Nintendo gained the rights to SuperMario.com, over 25 years since it had released Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. The company filed a complaint with WIPO which it won in late September.
Microsoft has filed and won dozens of Xbox-related domain disputes going back to 2003.
And though Sony Computer Entertainment has only filed a handful of disputes, it has won all 4 that it did submit. Those cases involved: playstationx.com, sonyplaystation2.com, sonyps2.com, psone.com, pspcn.com, and pspmovie.net.
Sometimes, however when companies want a domain and don’t want to risk losing a dispute or are impatient for the time it takes time for proceedings to complete, they will pay cash — as Microsoft likely did with Halo4.com.
I’ve reached out to the owner of each domain name to see if they’ve been contacted by the respective console company, and will update this post if I hear back.
(Concept design of Microsoft’s next-generation console ‘Xbox 720′ by Tai Chiem)