The first brand domain auctioned

13.05.2019

ICANN Corporation announced that the future of the .MERCK domain will be revealed at an auction. This is a noteworthy event in itself: the last ICANN auction took place some three years ago, when there was a fight for the new gTLD .web domain. But a new twist makes the .MERCK situation unique. Both contestants wish to use the domain name as a brand name. This is possible only when a company holds the right to the relevant brand name, and obviously, several companies cannot have equal rights to a trademark. However, there are apparently exceptions.

The German company Merck was founded in 1668. In the late 19th century it established an affiliate in the US. Then World War I broke out and the US Merck division was confiscated by the US government as belonging to an adversary. Since then it grew into a chemical industry giant with revenue exceeding $42 billion, outgrowing its German parent. Nevertheless, both companies legally bear the name Merck. The American company uses merck.com, while the German one uses merckgroup.com. Both want the domain name and brand .MERCK. According to Domain Incite, the auction will take place on July 17. Per tradition, the proceeds will go to the ICANN’s special fund.