Despite strong opposition and a temporary interruption in the application process, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has barreled ahead with the new generic top level domain name (gTLD) program. This expansion of new gTLDs (to the right of the dot) opens up the internet to a plethora of new gTLD domain extensions. ICANN announced that it received over 1900 applications, and at $185,000 in application fees alone ICANN collected over $350 million in fees from applicants for the new gTLDs. Today was the big “Reveal Day” for ICANN which published a list of the applications including the names of the applicants and the proposed new gTLD strings.
Due to the overwhelming number of applications, ICANN will divide the applications into “batches” for its initial evaluation of the applications. The ICANN’s Initial Evaluation will review, among other things, the proposed gTLDs string for similarity to other new gTLD or existing gTLD, the applicant to determine if it has demonstrated the appropriate technical, operational, and financial capabilities to run a registry, and the applicant’s proposed registry services to determine DNS stability. The evaluation of the first batch is set to begin on July 12th and end sometime in December 2012 or January 2013; the schedule for subsequent batches has not yet been announced.
Anyone interested in submitting comments for consideration during the evaluation of a particular application will need to do so before August 12th. A formal objection process is also available and open for seven months until about January 2013. During the objection phase, interested parties can raise objections to an applied for gTLD string based on an allegation that the applied for string infringes the existing legal rights, that the string would create confusion with another applied for gTLD or existing gTLD, that the string is contrary to the public interest, or that the string is against the interests of a particularly community.
In addition to the many well known brands that applied for new gTLDs, several of the generic name gTLD strings have multiple parties applying for them including .love, .music, .news, and .shop. These multiple applications will be managed in a separate process where attempts to resolve the contention will begin and could end in an auction for the string.
The new gTLDs will present extra burdens on brand owners to protect and enforce their brands. Brand owners should review the Reveal Day list to confirm that none of the proposed gTLD applications violate any of its existing trademark rights, consider registering its trademarks in ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse when available for purposes of objection to domain names in the new gTLDs, and monitor the new extensions when they go live in or around 2013 for potentially infringing domain names.