gTLDs (global Top Level Domains)
There are many different types of domain name. The main distinction is the kind of suffix used. In broad terms, domain names can be grouped as follows:
- Generic top level domains (gTLDs), such as ‘.com’, ‘.net’ and ‘.org’
- Country code top level domains (ccTLDs), such as ‘.de’ for Germany and ‘.fr’ for France
- Sponsored top level domains (sTLDs), such as ‘.mobi’, ‘.travel’ and ‘.asia’
At present, there are around 22 gTLDs, however, as a result of the new gTLD program launched by ICANN in January 2012, there will eventually be many more, potentially thousands, as people apply to register a whole host of suffixes related to their brand, their community, and their location. For example:
- Brand owners will turn their brands into website suffixes – e.g. ‘netnames.netnames’, or ‘weetabix.weetabix’
- Individuals will use their names as suffixes – e.g. ‘bill.gates’
- Communities and entrepreneurs will create suffixes such as ‘.lawyers’ or ‘.paris'
- Industries will register suffixes that directly benefit their brands – e.g. ‘.bank’, ‘.shoe’, or ‘.game’
The 'New' gTLDs
In June 2011, ICANN's Board of Directors approved the new gTLD guidebook and authorized the launch of the new gTLD program. The program's goals include enhancing competition and consumer choice, and enabling the benefits of innovation via the introduction of new gTLDs
How will the new gTLDs affect brand owners?
As the new gTLDs will revolutionize the domain name industry, there are threats, opportunities and challenges that your organization needs to consider.
New gTLD threats
Organizations will need to think about protecting brands (defensive registrations) within any of the potential myriad new TLDs, primarily at the second level but occasionally this may be relevant at the top level, e.g. apple, orange.
New gTLD opportunities
Some industry experts see the new gTLD process as creating opportunities for company specific or sector specific gTLDs and in creating these, as a way to increase brand profile, allow more control or security over the use of the brand online or perhaps even an opportunity to rebrand.
Challenges and considerations
NetNames believes that keeping well-informed and undertaking careful forward planning is vital. As a brand owner or business you should plan ahead by:
- Ensuring you are familiar with ICANN’s new gTLD developments and understanding how the gTLDs will affect your organization
- Deciding if your existing domain name policy remains relevant in the context of brand protection within the new gTLDs, or if your domain name policy needs to be modified in light of these
- Costs - the gTLDs are expensive and organizations need to think carefully about their marketing budgets and whether or not they require any provision to deal with the new gTLDs
- What happens to brand owners’ existing domain names? A brand owner who is considering deleting their domain name portfolio and expecting to function under a single gTLD (e.g. .brand) should understand the implications of doing this, especially in the short term
To help keep you abreast of further developments and to assist you, NetNames has a number of options for you:
- The NetNames’ new gTLD service can assist you in placing applications in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), running the dot TLD registry and registering domain names under your new gTLD and also a number of post application and legal services
- Providing you with a NetNames newsletter and a dedicated new gTLD website to enable you to stay up-to-date with the latest gTLD news