Today in his Observer column, John Naughton takes account of the thriving practice of cybersquatting domains for potential bank-mergers:
Even as the short-selling vultures began circling Lehman Brothers, HBOS, Merrill Lynch and co, a legion of entrepreneurs began betting on domain names for hastily merged financial institutions. For example, when Barclays and Bank of America began to emerge as buyers for Lehman, names such as barclayslehman.com and bofalehman.com were promptly registered by enterprising hopefuls.
Some of these domains were being offered for sale on eBay last week. For example, www.bankofamericamerrilllynch.com was available at a starting bid of $1,500. 'With a deal between Bank of America and Merrill Lynch NOW ANNOUNCED', burbled the seller, 'this domain name will soon be incredibly popular. This is the only domain name that conveys the full picture, using the name of both firms… This is the most comprehensive and commonsensical domain name available concerning the MERGER OF BANK OF AMERICA CORP AND MERRILL LYNCH & CO.' The last time your columnist checked, however, the auction had attracted no bidders. Still – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
The proud owner of lloydstsbhbos.com, for his part, disdained eBay and simply set up a website with lots of ad links, clearly hoping to squeeze some Google juice from his property while waiting for the lawyers to call. Hope springs eternal in some breasts.