Setting up a new company or naming a new product used to involve a quick check with Companies House and maybe the Patents Office to ensure no one had already registered your intended name. But with virtually all businesses now reliant on the web to some extent, you must also factor in domain name availability. Very few single word domain names are now available, or if they are, it’s only with extremely obscure suffixes where ideally you’d want .com or .co.uk to be.

I mistakenly typed in www.twitter.co.uk the other day and was met not with the social networking site, but with the rather irate homepage of the owner of this domain address. Now to be fair, the owner of this site claims to have registered the .co.uk domain address a full year before the slightly better known .com site started, but how much must he wish he’d also bought the .com version at the same time? He would have protected his identity by owning both domain names. He is of course receiving thousands of mistaken hits (one every 20 seconds by his estimation), and is even offering advertising on his site because of that amount of traffic, but I suspect all that happens is people very quickly leave the site and go to the .com version instead. He is also receiving thousands of unsolicited, mistakenly addressed emails. Ironic when you consider that twitter.co.uk was set up to promote a piece of software designed to help blind people use computers, TWITTER standing for Talking Wordprocessor, Internet, Typing Tutor, Email Resource.

And here lies today’s lesson my children – if you are creating a new business, brand or product, don’t make a final decision on the name until you’ve checked out what domains are available and once you find those domains, guard them with your life – register the .com and .co.uk versions at the very least.

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