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The new change from 22 to 1000s of top-level domain names

Alert: June 13th 2012 ICANN gTLD announcement gives new creative opportunities or scope for more trademark infringements?

Value/Importance: (It won’t be an option used by most companies)

Recommended link: ICANN announcement and FAQ

Our summary of the domain name changes

Over the years we’re used to the periodic release of new top-level domains such as .info or .name.

This new approach is more significant, ICANN, the domain authority describes it as

“The new gTLD program is one the most substantive changes to the Domain Name System (DNS) in the Internet’s history”.

Today, the first names applications were revealed on June 13th. They have been kept secret, but the examples above have all been applied for. Some that caught my eye are:

.baby .life .design .Paris .degree .dell .hotel .coupon .gripe

This ICANN video gives a good introduction to the reasons behind the changes and the opportunities:

What you need to know.

  • The evaluation fee is $185,000!
  • $185k is just the setup cost, op platform & security cost isan additional $150K
  • You can’t register a trademark as a gTLD (although many seem to have)
  • Application has been available since earlier this year and the applications are revealed today. Applications will be reviewed in batches and there are complex criteria, this isn’t a quick process. The first will go live in 2013, so it's a "wait and see" for now
  • This is not as simple as registering a domain name, you have to manage all domain applications on the gTLD if you’re successful. ICANN says: “An applicant for a new gTLD is, in fact, applying to create and operate a registry business supporting the Internet’s domain name system. This involves a number of significant responsibilities, as the operator of a new gTLD is running a piece of visible Internet infrastructure”.

Marketing implications of the change for companies?

The big question is how many organisations will think the fee is worthwhile. Around 2,000 applications have already been made, so that’s a fair few considering the fee. We’ll see today how many of these have been accredited.

There do seem opportunities for collaboration within a region or community (such as .NYC), but many businesses will be most concerned about managing reputation since your trademark can now be infringed in many more places depending on how well these new gTLDs are administered.

David A. Einhorn, partner, and Lesley Portnoy, associate, at law firm Baker Hostetler says:

“While some brand managers will innovate in this new era, all should be aware of headaches they will soon face. As the number of TLDs goes up, the avenues for trademark infringement and fraud stand to increase exponentially”

While some brand managers will innovate in this new era, all should be aware of headaches they will soon face. As the number of TLDs goes up, the avenues for trademark infringement and fraud stand to increase exponentially. Einhorn recommends these approaches:

  1. Consider applying for a gTLD.
  2. Closely monitor gTLD Applications.
  3. Register with the Trademark Clearinghouse.

If you're tempted to apply(!), you can apply or read the FAQ here.

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights.

Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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