Hundreds more are about to be added to the Internet. ICANN’s application period just ended, and over 1900 applications for new gTLDs have been submitted for a fee of $185,000 each. Google alone has applied for 50 gTLDs.
New kinds of gTLDs have been applied for that will change how the Internet appears to the average user and how businesses will operate online. True generic names such as .com may soon be joined by more descriptive words such as .shop. Geographic names such as .nyc and .london are part of the mix. And reportedly hundreds of brand holders have applied for names such as .google.
This explosion in new gTLDs presents both opportunities and risks for Utah businesses. Opportunities are plentiful. The addition of many more Internationalized Domain Names, or IDNs, will add color to the global Internet by allowing organizations to have gTLDs in non-Latin character sets, such as Mandarin, Cyrillic, and Arabic. Utah’s high concentration of foreign language talent offers real opportunities to use IDNs to market even more effectively in China, Russia, and the Middle East, or to assist companies in those regions to extend their reach across the globe. Risks may come from multiple directions. Some applied-for gTLDs may infringe on your trademarks. Others may silently give control over an industry name such as “bank” or “medicine” or “software” to an entity that could soon have the power to charge for the privilege of registering your company name under that gTLD. And .xxx may soon be joined by other pornographic gTLDs that may require you to register your trademarks and other sensitive business names to prevent their misuse.
Time is short to identify and respond to the risks presented by new gTLDs. ICANN will be publishing a list of all 1900 applied-for gTLDs and their applicants on June 13. Strict deadlines offer third-parties only a limited time to stop ICANN from awarding objectionable gTLDs. Only 60 days are available to post public comments and seven months to submit formal objections. These deadlines are urgent because ICANN’s decisions are unappealable. Once ICANN has awarded a gTLD, the odds of reversing its decision—even for a compelling reason such as trademark infringement—are practically nil. With such opportunities and risks now close at hand, what are you doing to respond to these fundamental changes to the Internet?
R. Shawn Gunnarson is a shareholder with Kirton McConkie.
He can be contacted at email@example.com or at (801) 323-5907.
Click here to learn more about new gTLDs and related Internet policy issues