Similar to the Hostess Brands, Inc. predicament, recently posted by Dan Kelly, Goodwill Industries International, Inc. (www.goodwill.org), the well-known and respected non-profit, didn’t own the one domain you would expect — Goodwill.com.
The domain went up for auction this past December after the original owner, a Japanese staffing company named Goodwill Group, Inc., changed its name and allowed Goodwill.com to expire.
Instead of seizing the opportunity to own and control this element of their brand by simply buying it at auction, Goodwill Industries gambled, in my opinion, by trying to stop the auction. Ultimately, they lost their request as well as the domain. Their next act was to sue the owner of Goodwill.com for trademark infringement and violation of anti-cybersquatting protection act, amongst other claims.
As reported by Domain Name Wire, this month the case was dismissed without prejudice and the Goodwill.com domain finally went to Goodwill Industries. Although this resolution is good for Goodwill, not owning Goodwill.com earlier denied them the domain during the key December donation period, and, potentially, could have proven a very expensive and lengthy process to resolve.
Since monitoring a domain is relatively uncomplicated, it is puzzling why Goodwill industries would allow Goodwill.com to get away so easily. As a brand manager, I am surprised Goodwill wasn’t more vigilant or diligent in pursuing and protecting something so apparently associated with their trademark and their brand.
The goodwill (pun intended) a domain name inures to a brand cannot be overemphasized. One of the more important aspects of branding is presence. On the worldwide stage of the Internet, domains perform a leading role in brand proliferation.
A domain dispute and the associated confusion, as in this case, was unnecessary, considering resolution could have been reached without extraordinary effort and without hunting for legal remedy.