December 2015 will see the launch of three generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs), all focused on the automobile industry.  However, the launch of .CAR, .CARS and .AUTO are unlikely to drive up domain name registration volumes due to the very high registration fees being charged by Cars Registry Limited, the joint venture that is the Registry operator for all three gTLDs.

As reported in the May 2015 issue of Anchovy News, Cars Registry Limited is a joint venture between two Registry operators, namely UniRegistry – which runs over 20 new gTLDs including .CLICK, .LINK and .PHOTO – and LLC – which operates .COLLEGE, .RENT and .XYZ.

The launch schedule for .CAR, .CARS and .AUTO has now been confirmed and the key dates are as follows:

Sunrise Period: 9 December 2015 – 12 January 2016

Early Access Period: 12 – 20 January 2016

General Availability: 20 January 2016

During the Sunrise period, applications for domain names will be processed on a first come, first served basis.  Apart from the Sunrise period where applications are only accepted from trade mark holders who have submitted their trade mark data to the Trademark Clearinghouse, there are no restrictions on who may apply for a domain name under the three gTLDs.

However, there is one small barrier to entry for potential registrants of domain names under the .CAR, .CARS and .AUTO gTLDs and that is the rather high Registry fees.  According to the Registry website for the three gTLDs, the annual registration fee for a domain name will start at US $3,000.  These registration fees are among the highest that have been released for a new gTLD.  However, judging from the literature available on the Registry website, it appears that these gTLDs are being marketed at automobile manufacturers and car dealers, rather than at the general public.  According to the Registry,

“these new domain options are expected to be well received and adopted globally by the automotive industry, which is a cornerstone of internet commerce and economies around the world” and that “since the start of e-commerce in the 1990s, there has been a pent up demand for an authoritative automotive namespace.”

Whether or not the automotive industry is going to take the Registry up on its offer of $3,000 per year for domain name registrations remains to be seen.  However, these high registration fees could result in some unfavourable opinions from the target market as they may feel obliged to protect their intellectual property rights under these three gTLDs.

If you wish to receive assistance with regard to new gTLDs, including advice on strategy, assistance with submitting trade marks to the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), and domain name registrations under the new gTLDs, including Sunrise applications, please contact David Taylor.

First published on Anchovy News: Anchovy® is our a comprehensive and centralised online brand protection service for global domain name strategy, including new gTLDs together with portfolio management and global enforcement using a unique and exclusive online platform developed in-house.