Last year we posted a series of blog articles on common questions and the potential impact to brands related to the introduction of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) – the letters or characters that appear to the right of the “dot” in a domain name or website URL. With the long-discussed launch of these new gTLDs now becoming a distinct reality, we wanted to revisit this topic.
Historically limited to such well-known extensions as .com and .net, the new gTLDs will include extensions like “.bike” and “.camera”, along with thousands of others. During the initial application period, nearly 2,000 applications were filed, and The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is now reviewing them.
Where are we now?
With the launch pending, it’s time for brand owners to check their plans to protect their brand, and to develop one if they haven’t already. This timeline, available on ICANN’s website, shows the progress of the program:
As indicated, the new gTLDs will be operational soon. The first new gTLDs that have been approved include: .bike; .holdings; .clothing; .lighting; .ventures .singles; .voyage; .онлайн (.online); .camera; .сайт (.site); .equipment; .شبكة. (.web/.network); .estate; .游戏 (.game(s)); .guru; and .企业 (.enterprise/.firm/.company). In total, 1,930 applications were filed for everything from .love to .aol.
Benefits and Risks
The ICANN website has a very thorough list of benefits and risks of operating a new gTLD. Some of the benefits include the ability to set the rules for who can register a second-level domain name and to establish high-security zones, as well as the potential for ongoing revenue from annual registration renewals. The risks include the $185,000 price tag for initial application fees and potentially millions of dollars annually in ongoing operational costs, potential loss of investor funds, and contractual restrictions imposed by ICANN registry agreements.
Given the high cost of applying for and managing a gTLD, most companies haven’t applied for one. This may leave many brands open to even more potential for brand abuse than they face now. We’ll discuss this in our next blog post.