Brand Owners Take Note: gTLD Applications Revealed, Comment Period Begins
Just over a week ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) revealed the list of the 1,930 generic top-level domains (gTLDs) for which ICANN has received applications. This long-awaited announcement is the next step toward the first-large scale expansion of gTLDs in Internet history. Currently, there are only 22 gTLDs, including the familiar .com, .net, and .org. The entire list of applications is available at ICANN’s Web site:http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en.
Of the 1,930 applications, 66 are geographic name applications (e.g. .london and .paris) and 116 are for internationalized domain names in scripts such as Arabic, Chinese, and Cyrillic. Applications were filed from 60 countries and territories, with 911 coming from North America, 675 from Europe, 303 from the Asia-Pacific region, 24 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 17 from Africa.
Unsurprisingly, there are multiple applicants for numerous gTLDs composed of arguably generic or descriptive terms like .music and .shopping, which will likely be auctioned off to the highest bidding applicant. Brand owners should review the list carefully for applications that might be relevant to their businesses, and in particular for applications with gTLDs that may be confusingly similar to their trademarks.
A 60-day public comment period is now open for general comments on the applications. There will then be a six-month period for more specific objections based on, among other things, trademark rights.