ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has released details of the nearly 2,000 applications it has received for new generic Top-Level Domains, an initiative that has been both applauded and vilified by the online community.
The high costs of preparing for and running a domain name registry, together with an application fee of US$185,000, had led many to believe that only around 1,000 applications would be received, and that the majority of these would come from conscientious brand owners. Only approximately 20% of the applications, however, are brand-related and giants such as Facebook, Twitter, Disney, Coke and Pepsi are among the famous marks not appearing in the list. gTLDs for many of the locations in which Edwards Wildman operates do make an appearance, including .boston, .london, .nyc and .tokyo. Nobody applied for a .happy ending; the closest was Google's application for .lol.
It remains to be seen how many of the applicants are genuinely interested in operating their own gTLD and how many filed simply to protect their trademarks. In most cases where multiple applications have been made for the same string, such as .app (13), .law (6) and .tech (6), the award of the gTLD will be decided by auction. The use of gTLDs by successful applicants could still, however, be restrained though litigation proceedings where that use would infringe a third party's intellectual property rights.
Starting from "Reveal Day" (June 13, 2012), parties have sixty days to submit observations about the applications to ICANN, and approximately seven months to file objections to specific applications. With a 70% refund of the application fee now available following withdrawal from the pool, applicants and non-applicant trademark owners should be assessing their options with their commercial and legal advisers.
Fuller details about Reveal Day are contained in our partner Mitchell Stabbe's Client Advisory, which can be found here.