Who gets their top level domain names?

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has recently released the proposed generic top level domains (gTLDs) which have been applied for through the new gTLD application process. The new gTLDs allow for extensions to represent associations, hobbies, cultures and more, and can even contain non-roman characters. Many are suggesting that the offering of new gTLDs is going to dramatically change how internet searches are conducted in the future.

It appears from the list of applied-for gTLDs that there are approximately 40 Australian applicants.  A full list of the applied-for gTLDs can be found here. It has been reported that, out of the 1930 applications, there are approximately 230 applied-for gTLDs that are being contested.

The release of this information does not mean that ICANN accepts the new gTLDs. There are still a number steps for an applicant to get through before a new gTLD is approved and delegated.

The applications are now in the initial evaluation phase which will last at least 9 months, and consists of:

  • a 60-days public comment period inviting comments from the internet community; and
  • a formal objection process where objections can be filed by third parties (including non-applicants) on any of the following grounds:
    • the applied-for gTLD is confusingly similar to an existing gTLD or another applied-for gTLD;
    • the applied-for gTLD infringes the existing legal rights of the objector;
    • the applied-for gTLD is contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order recognised under international law principles; or
    • there is a substantial opposition to the gTLD application from a significant portion of the community to which the applied-for gTLD may be explicitly or implicitly targeted.

If a formal objection is filed in respect of a particular new gTLD, a dispute resolution proceeding will be initiated.

The new gTLD owner can determine whether or not to sell second-level domains and set its price and conditions of use.  As such, the rights of a new gLTD owner can be significant.

If an applied-for gTLD is similar to a registered trade mark, and the trade mark owner wishes to take steps, then formal objection ought to be initiated as soon as possible.  The first batch of the newly approved gTLDs is likely to ‘go live’ on or about April/May 2013.

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