The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)
is responsible for the development and release of generic Top-Level
Domains (gTLDs) such as .com and .net. Such gTLDs are typically
registered in combination with millions of other different
"second level domains" (such as shelstonip.com).
Until recently, there has only been a total of twenty two (22)
approved gTLDs. However, ICANN has decided to expand this and
recently developed a procedure for organisations to develop their
own gTLDs which potentially include brands and trading names.
Further information about the application process can be located at
Applications for the first round of new gTLDs recently closed
and a list of the gTLD strings applied for can be located at
By way of example, companies who have filed applications for new
gTLDs include L'Oreal (.makeup), Bayerische Motoren Werke AG
(.bmw) and Hasbro International, Inc (.transformers). Applicants
for new gTLDs from Australia include the Australian Football League
(.afl), several Australian banks (.anz, .cba, .nab) and Open
Universities Australia Pty Ltd (.study).
There are advantages for businesses registering their own gTLDs.
For example, a gTLD owner will have the ability to control use of
that gTLD by establishing rules for doing so. The owner may choose
to limit who (and more importantly who cannot) register their
second level domain in combination with the new gTLD. The owner of
such a gTLD also has the ability to sell "second level"
domain name licences at a price of their choosing (or may choose
not to sell them at all).
New gTLDs may also be registered in languages other than in
English, including Chinese, Arabic and Cyrillic, which will
potentially attract many new customers.
The registration of established brands as new gTLDs is
potentially of significant value to businesses. Customers are more
likely to be confident that a domain name registration which ends
with a gTLD that is a brand (such as .microsoft) is really
associated with the brand owner. The registration of a brand as a
gTLD may also provide better brand control, new investment
opportunities and demonstrate leadership in internet
However, there are also cogent reasons why businesses may not
want to even consider registering new gTLDs. There are significant
initial investment costs for applying to operate a gTLD, with costs
of US$185,000 (or more) payable just to apply for a gTLD. The
process for registering a gTLD is quite lengthy and likely to take
in excess of twelve months. It is necessary to demonstrate a
technical capacity to control a gTLD and there will also be
significant ongoing costs associated with operating a gTLD
registry. This will be beyond the reach of many businesses.
While brand owners may choose not to seek registration of gTLDs,
monitoring applications filed by potential competitors is
recommended and a decision can then be made whether or not to
comment or object.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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