In 2008 ICANN decided it would allow the registration of new generic top level domains (new gTLDs). A top level domain (TLD) is the last part of a domain name, the part after the last period (such as “.com”). The new gTLD program allows organisations to apply for their own TLD (e.g .canon) and manage a registry of all second level domains within that gTLD (e.g. cameras.canon). See our In Brief article on the program here.

The application window for new gTLDs closed on 12 April 2012 with 839 applicants having applied for likely more than 1000 gTLDs.

ICANN has delayed publication of a list of applied-for gTLDs from 30 April due to technical difficulties.

Given the estimated number of applications, ICANN will divide them into batches (of about 500) before commencing the assessment process. Applications in later batches will be subject to a delay of at least 5 months. Controversially, ICANN will determine batch allocation using “Digital Archery”: applicants set a "future time-target" (e.g. 12.00pm, 15 May 2012) and attempt to "hit" that target by returning to the system at that time (accurate applicants receive priority). Where there are similar applications that need to be assessed together (e.g. .melb and .melbourne), later applications will be grouped with similar earlier applications.

All brand owners need to be aware of the options available to them following the publication of all applied-for gTLDs, including their ability to:

  1. until 30 June, submit comments on gTLDs for consideration by ICANN’s evaluation panels; and
  2. within 7 months, file objections with WIPO against gTLDs that infringe their (trade mark or common law) rights.

Therefore, once it is published, brand owners should review the list of applied-for gTLDs and consider whether any gTLDs are similar to their name or trade marks.

We will release a further update following the publication of the list of applied-for gTLDs.