Well, after over a one month delay, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has finally published the list of those who have filed applications to operate new generic top level domain names (gTLDs), such as .yoga.
Of the 1930 applications filed, only 116 are Internationalized Domain Names, ones that incorporate non-ASCII characters. There also are only 84 applications for “community” gTLDs that are operated for the benefit of clearly delineated communities. That means the overwhelming majority of applications are “standard” applications that have no limitations on how they can be used.
Currently there are 751 applications in contention, meaning more than one application was filed for the identical or for a confusingly similar gTLD. So unless the contending applicants work out an agreement, those gTLDs will be auctioned off to the highest bidder, with ICANN pocketing the proceeds.
To find out who has applied for new gTLDS, as well as which .brand gTLDs may have been filed by your competitors, go to http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en.
As expected, there are several geographic gTLDs, such as .barcelona, .miami, .amsterdam and .berlin, as well as numerous “generic” gTLDs such as .beauty, .beer, .restaurant, and even .christmas. But I bet you didn’t realize that if you are part of the community of Russian speaking who originated in Kievan Rus in the 13th century, there is now going to be an Internet home for you at .pyc. Not sure if this is the kind of “innovation” that ICANN was touting as one of the primary bases for opening up the domain name space despite trademark owners concerns over such an unprecedented large-scale expansion.
Unless your brand co-exists with another brand (i.e., United, Delta), the applications you should keep your eyes on are those that claim to represent a community to which you may belong, such as .cpa, .hotel, .insurance, .med, .pharmacy, and .bank. If you have concerns regarding any of these applications (as well as any other applications), you may want to consider filing a public comment with ICANN, instructions for which can be found at https://gtldcomment.icann.org/comments-feedback/applicationcomment/login;jsessionid= DC674783349FC862B832F7282E222D8B. Public comments must be submitted by August 12, 2012 and directed to the evaluation panel in order to be considered as part of an application’s evaluation. Comments submitted outside of this period will not be considered during the initial evaluation by ICANN but will be made available for public viewing.
There is also a formal objection process separate and apart from the public comment process, expected to run for the next seven months, in which (1) a trademark owner can file an objection to an application on the grounds that the applied-for gTLD string violates its legal rights, or (2) an established institution associated with the community can file an objection on the grounds that there is substantial opposition thereto. More information about these objection processes can be found at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/objection-dispute-resolution.
Of course, the real “fun” will start when these gTLDs go live and start accepting applications for domain names at the second level (i.e., microsoft.computer). Later this summer we will be circulating information about the new rights protection mechanisms that have been created for taking action against infringing domain names at the second level. In the meantime, we recommend that you start identifying those generic gTLDs that may be problematic to you vis-a-vis second level domain names and consider what, if any, domain names you may want to “pre-register” or put on a “watch” before registration on the second level is opened up to the public at large.