Calling June 13, 2012 “New gTLD Reveal Day,” the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) posted the listing of the submitted generic top-level domain (gTLD) applications, revealing 1,930 applications by 1,155 applicants seeking 1,409 different new generic top level domains (gTLDs). Some of the more popular gTLDs – such as .insurance, .bank, .blog, or .app. – have multiple applicants and competition promises to be fierce.
As discussed in the prior Expect Focus article, “Will Your Company Participate in the Expanded Generic Top-Level Domain Registration Program?” (Summer 2011), the new gTLD program presents potential trademark and security concerns. A careful review of the entire application list is therefore warranted by any business concerned that some proposed gTLD names might violate their legal rights. How companies identifying objectionable applications choose to proceed will require an understanding of the protective procedures put in place by ICANN.
“New gTLD Reveal Day” triggered a 60-day comment and 7-month objection period. The available objections fall into the following groups: (1) there is “string” confusion with another gTLD; (2) the proposed gTLD violates the legal rights of another; (3) the proposed gTLD is of limited public interest (a morality and public order objection); and (4) the non-applicant community represented by the gTLD has objections to the proposed gTLD. While comments during the 60-day period provided by ICANN are free, filing a formal objection, which is adjudicated by arbitration, may cost anywhere from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on whether the objection reaches a hearing.