On 13 June 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned
Names and Numbers, (ICANN) published the long-awaited list of the
1930 applications it received for new generic Top-Level Domains,
(gTLDs). The publication of the list heralds the beginning of a new
era for the internet.
As expected the applications fall into a number of categories
including geographic designations (.africa, .barcelona, .wales),
company or brand names (.garnier, .landrover, .youtube) , industry
categories (.beauty, .insurance, .law) and "community"
gTLDs (.music, .radio, .kids). As the application fee and the
associated costs of running a domain name registry are high, it is
surprising that only 20% of the applications came from major brand
holders, and it is interesting to note that many of the brand
giants expected to make applications such as Coca Cola, Facebook
and Disney, abstained from the application process.
There were multiple applications made for various gTLDs
including 13 applications for.app, nine applications for .cloud and
six applications for .law. Following further examination of
these "multiple" applications by ICANN, the applicants
that meet the registration criteria will be afforded an opportunity
to voluntarily negotiate a settlement for the applied-for gTLD with
the other applicants for the same gTLD. If a settlement
cannot be reached, the operator of the gTLD will be decided by an
auction run by ICANN.
The publication of the list of applications represents the first
step in the registration process of the new gTLDs. The applications
are now subject to evaluation by ICANN's evaluation panels,
which will review whether the applied-for gTLDs meet ICANN's
technical requirements and whether the applicant possesses the
appropriate technical, operational and financial capabilities to
run a domain registry. The public has until 12 August 2012 to
submit comments to ICANN on issues that they think should be
considered in the evaluation of the gTLD applications. Such
comments will not constitute a formal objection but may affect
ICANN's determination as to the registrability of the
As well as evaluation by ICANN, the applications are open to
objection by interested parties. The objection period is now
open and is expected to run until January 2013. Objections may be
filed on any of the following grounds:
String Confusion – an applied-for gTLD is confusingly
similar to an existing top-level domain or another applied-for
Legal Rights – an applied-for gTLD violates the trade
mark rights of an objector;
Limited Public Interest – an applied-for gTLD is
contrary to the accepted norms of morality and public order;
Community – in relation to the proposed
community-based gTLDs that are intended to operate for the benefit
of a clearly defined and established community with a restricted
population (.art, .music, .radio), an opposition may be filed where
a significant portion of the relevant community opposes the
Corporates and SMEs should take the opportunity to review the
complete list of gTLDs on ICANN's website to ensure that their
trade mark portfolio is not infringed by the gTLD
applications. The full list is available
here. If, upon review of the list, it appears that an
applied-for gTLD is either identical or confusingly similar to the
earlier trade mark rights of a company, or if it appears that an
applied-for gTLD is contrary to the accepted norms of morality and
public order, the company should consider filing an objection.
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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