Quebec’s new generic top level domain (gTLD) —.quebec — is scheduled for general availability November 18, 2014. The .quebec domain will be of interest to any brand owners conducting business in La belle province.

The launch of the .quebec domain is part of the ongoing expansion of the Internet from only 22 gTLDs in 2013 (e.g. .com, .net) to over one thousand by the end of 2015. New gTLD registries may be classified as open, restricted or closed. Open domains are available to anyone, while restricted domains have eligibility criteria (e.g. .law will be available to licensed lawyers), and closed domains are intended for use only by the owner of the registry. The .quebec domain will be an open registry.

In addition to the above, new gTLDs can generally be grouped into four types based on their purpose:

  1. Geographic domains (or GeoTLDs) are specific to a geographical area — whether a country, city, or continent. Examples include .quebec, .berlin and .nyc.
  2. Community domains are for use by a defined community group, such as religious, charity, profession or interest. Examples include .LGBT, .Islam, .tennis.
  3. Brand domains relate directly to a trademarked brand, and may be used to help strengthen the brand by providing brand-specific domain extensions to the company. Examples include .Samsung and .BestBuy.
  4. Generic domains fall outside of the other three categories. Examples include .bike, .app, .eco.

Over 400 gTLDs have launched to date but .quebec will be among the first of 66 geographic gTLDs to launch.

The .quebec GeoTLD is being promoted by the Government of Quebec as providing several benefits to users, including geolocation for Quebec based businesses, bringing non-resident businesses closer to their clients in Quebec, assisting in brand development and market share growth in the province and improving the effectiveness of advertising.

Early registration in .quebec is available until November 11, 2014 with priority given to i) trademark rights holders, followed by ii) government entities that promote Quebec’s public interest, then iii) entities headquartered in Quebec and finally iv) the general public. General registration in the .quebec registry on “first come, first served” basis begins on November 18, 2014.

The impending launch of .quebec presents unique opportunities to rights holders looking to strengthen their brand in Quebec. Quebec’s citizens may embrace the .quebec registry as part of their geographical, cultural and linguistic identity. Given that the .quebec domain is one of the first GeoTLDs to launch, it has the potential to provide insight into the future launch of other GeoTLDs such as .london, .madrid and .nyc.

Businesses with interests in Quebec are advised to consider registration of their key brands and domain names in the .quebec registry and to monitor the registry for potential bad faith domain name registrations or infringement of trademarks and copyrights.