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By Brian Gregg At its June 20, 2011 meeting in Singapore, the Internet Corporation for
Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted nearly unanimously to approve
the long awaited Applicant Guidebook. That decision starts the clock on
the application process for the new generic top level domains ("gTLDs").
A gTLD is the string of letters such as ".com", ".edu", or ".net" after
the right-most period in a domain name. The upcoming release of new
gTLD's could flood the Internet with a myriad of new strings consisting
of brand names (.ford, .verizon, .nike) as well as generic terms (.cars,
.mobile, .shoes). The first round of registry applications will be
accepted between January 12, 2012 and April 12, 2012. Applying
for a new gTLD is not the same as registering a new domain (i.e.
yourbrand.com) through an existing registrar. In addition to the
$185,000 application fee, the successful applicant for a new gTLD will
be required to maintain the registry for that gTLD, a responsibility
that will cost at least $25,000 annually. Proponents of the new gTLDs
tout their potential benefits. For example, the trademark owner will
benefit from having exclusive control over every domain name under the
gTLD. Thus, users may find websites with a branded gTLD, such as
"phones.att", more trustworthy, as others will not be able to register
domains under these gTLDs without authorization by AT&T. This added
control of trademark use in domain names may translate into greater
security, less fraud, and a movement away from .com by owners of famous
brands. The release of the Applicant Guidebook will do little to
quell the criticism from trademark rights advocates who believe the new
gTLDs represent a new frontier for trademark infringers. The six-figure
entry fee should curtail many squatters, and ICANN also has established
dispute resolution procedures, including a process for "rapid
takedown." Brand owners who are not planning to apply for, own and
operate a domain registry for their brands should continue to monitor
the new domains for infringement as they are released, presumably in
mid-2012. For questions about Internet law or the new gTLDs contact Brian Gregg at McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC. © 2011 McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC IT'S YOUR BUSINESS is
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