Will the launch of new gTLDs really transform the Internet as ICANN has envisioned? Without a doubt, the increase of gTLDs at the root level will create competition and diversity, and foster innovation — simply because the option is there. Innovation takes time and often does not happen until the tools to foster it are in place. With new gTLDs, however, also comes resistance, as there is with any new concept that has the power to change an industry and the way we do business.
One of the main reasons for resistance is that individuals and entities have an invested interest in “.com” and they want to hold on to this established value. Strategies, research, and business models have been created based on the existing world of .com. So the mere threat of divesting this investment often is seen as a direct attack on established practices and a model that works. Though the relatively brief history of top level domains might suggest that .com is going to remain No. 1, the likelihood of .com maintaining its wide lead in number of associated domains is slim given the significant investment in the new gTLD program. Domainers who remain stagnant, refusing to take advantage of the gTLD program, will miss out on an opportunity.
Those who doubt the likelihood that any of this will matter should consider the new gTLD “.club” which completed its Sunrise period and went into general availability May 8. According to zone files that were updated, the new gTLD had more than 25,000 registrations in the first half day of public availability. With that many registrations, .club already has the sixth-highest number of gTLD domain names in the root zone files. Of the other new gTLDs that have entered general availability, .guru leads with 55,355 domain name registrations, .berlin had topped 47,000 registrations and .photography is approaching 35,000. These numbers may not be as high as anticipated, but this level of activity does signal significant interest in the rollout of new gTLDs.
Skeptical brand owners should think twice
The implications are not yet apparent, but even those individuals and entities that are resistant to this change should think about strategies to establish a new web presence and, at a minimum, create brand protection plans to defend against unauthorized third-party use. It would be highly inefficient, incredibly expensive and unadvisable to seek a second-level domain in every single new gTLD that launches. ICANN has established several protection mechanisms that help brand owners protect valuable trademarks proactively by using the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) and retroactive dispute mechanisms such as the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS), which joins the already established Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). For more in depth discussion of these mechanisms, see our law alert and previous blog posts.
However, there are relatively inexpensive measures that brand owners can use to actively protect their brands in the expansion of this industry. One of the most important aspects to any protection strategy is keeping abreast of newly delegated gTLDs, the gTLDs in Sunrise, and those that are open to the public for registration. Brand owners will want to be aware of which new gTLDs can add value to their brands in the future, and which new gTLDs present a serious risk of disparagement (read a full list of gTLDs).
Newly delegated gTLDs
May brings Sunrise for additional gTLDs
Sunrise periods have opened for the these gTLDs in the past week:
Click here to view the table.
Sunrise is anticipated to open for the these gTLDs within the next two weeks:
Click here to view the table.