ICANN releases list of new gTLD applications  

Recently, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the nonprofit, private organization that is responsible for coordinating and overseeing many aspects of the Internet, instituted a new program by which applicants could apply for new generic top level domains (gTLDs).  This new program was developed to increase competition and choice on the Internet by introducing the possibility that essentially any arbitrary letter string could be applied for as a new gTLD.

What is a gTLD?  It is an Internet domain name extension such as the familiar .com, .net, or .org.  Currently there are roughly two dozen gTLDs.  However, with this current expansion program, there is the possibility for countless more. The deadline by which applicants had to apply for new gTLDs closed on April 12, 2012.  On June 13, 2012, ICANN announced the list of new gTLDs that were applied for in connection with this new gTLD expansion program.  A text-searchable alphabetical pdf listing of all of the new gTLDs that were applied for along with the identity of their applicant(s) can be found here.  

A total of 1,930 new gTLD applications were received by ICANN (751 of which were duplicative of at least one other application). Applications were received from applicants in 60 countries and territories, broken down as follows: (i) 911 from North America; (ii) 675 from Europe; (iii) 303 from Asia-Pacific; (iv) 24 from Latin America and the Caribbean; and (v) 17 from Africa.  Also, 66 of the applied for gTLDs are geographic name applications and 116 of them are for letter strings for non-Latin characters in scripts such as Arabic, Chinese, and Cyrillic.

There will now be an approximate seven-month objection period during which the gTLDs can be objected to for the following reasons:

  • String Confusion Objection: if a new proposed gTLD is confusingly similar with existing gTLD or other new gTLD application. 
  • Legal Rights Objection: if a new proposed gTLD infringes the existing legal rights (trademark rights) of an objector.  
  • Limited Public Interest Objection: if a new proposed gTLD is contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order.
  • Community Objection: if an established institution associated with a clearly delineated community claims there is a substantial opposition to a new proposed gTLD application from a significant portion of the community to which the new proposed gTLD may be explicitly or implicitly targeted.

Following this objection period, the new gTLD applications will undergo further evaluation.  The first of these new gTLDs that pass through the application period successfully are expected to go live by 2013 at the earliest. All business owners and entrepreneurs are encouraged to review the list for any objections that should be filed.