After 6 years of debate, the ICANN board approved the general release of new gTLDs at the ICANN Singapore meeting on 20 June.  Businesses will now be able to register and run a registry for:

  • brand (eg. .coke, .nike)
  • geographic place name (eg. .paris, .sydney)
  • generic word (eg. .shop, .food, .radio)
  • other language character set (eg. .beijing -.北京)

The first application round is scheduled to open on 12 January 2012 and close on 12 April 2012.  At this stage only one round of applications is scheduled. The most recent version of  the draft applicant guidebook is yet to be finalised. The guidebook contains the mechanisms for allocating names, dealing with conflicting applications and protecting the rights of brand owners.

Businesses won't be able to simply register a new name and use it for their own purposes – they will be required to operate a registry and take applications to register names at the second level within that domain. So if Coca Cola sets up a registry for .coke – they may choose to use the domain for distributors, new product launches etc and allocate appropriate second level domains such as zero.coke as required. The focus for cybersquatting will be at the second level and businesses will need to consider their strategy for monitoring registrations and the type of action they wish to take to protect brands at the second level.