Before they have even picked three finalist names, officials involved with the consolidation of Georgia Health Sciences and Augusta State universities have been trying to buy themselves some cyberprotection.
When the first six recommendations from the branding committee were released, officials had already secured about 70 different iterations of the names that will end in “.com” or a similar commercial site name, said Deb Barshafsky, GHSU’s senior director of executive communications.
Otherwise, someone could buy a site name similar to the university’s Web site, which will end in “.edu”, and set up a “spoof” site or worse, she said.
“This is just a cost-effective way of protecting your brand and protecting your trademarks,” Barshafsky said.
One of the more famous examples was a man who registered peta.org and set up the Web site as “People Eating Tasty Animals.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wasn’t pleased.
Suspicions were raised when it appeared that two domain sites – augustauniversity.com and nobleuniversity.com – were registered personally by Barshafsky well before consolidation was announced, one in 2009 and the other last July.
But someone else actually registered those domain names, and Barshafsky purchased them in May when the initial list was revealed, one for $1,495 and the other for $1,395.
The domain names were registered privately and Barshafsky purchased them through a secondary broker, so she doesn’t know who was responsible.
“Someone made a nice tidy profit off of those two domain names,” she said.
Unregistered domain names usually cost around $12.99, Barshafsky said. She used her personal credit card because she said it was easier to do that and get reimbursed.
Once a final name is picked by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents on Aug. 8, any sites not associated with the name will likely be allowed to lapse, she said.
Once a new name is picked and a reasonable domain name chosen, officials will apply to EDUCAUSE, a group that issues “.edu” names on a first come, first served basis, said Vice President Greg Jackson. The group does not take into consideration who owns the “.com” version of the name, he said.
The decision to grab the domain name iterations is standard practice, Barshafsky said.
“It’s a way to protect your brand, and it is a way to protect your trade-offs moving into the future,” she said.