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The New TLDs – What Does it Mean to Your Company?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (better known as ICANN) approved the use of 100’s of new customizable top-level domain names a few months ago.  Since that time, companies and internet prognosticators alike have been debating the ramifications of such a dramatic change.  Here are the basics:

  • Applicants (who pay $185,000) will be able to apply to, in essence, become a registry of a new TLD of their choosing.
  • Applicants can request a generic word such as “.pizza” or a trademarked word such as “.Dominos.”
  • There will be an opportunity for the public at large to object to an application (but such an opportunity could be costly).
  • Based on how the system is set up, there will probably be a rush to file for new extensions – especially with generic words.
  • ICANN promises to evaluate applications and not award top level domains subject to another company’s trademark.

These new TLD extensions could open a can of worms the internet has not seen for awhile.  First, what happens if multiple companies hold the same trademark (think Delta Airlines and Delta Faucets) and both apply for .delta?  What happens if Pizza Hut and Dominos both apply for the generic “.pizza” at the same time?  ICANN has a process and evaluation factors to resolve these issues, but they do not seem to be specific enough yet to answer these questions.

I would not be surprised to see trademark suits spawning from the new TLDs.  We will have much more on this in the coming months.

What are your thoughts?

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