The internet as we know it is poised to change drastically with the launch of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). Currently, there are roughly two dozen gTLDs in use (.com, .net, .gov… etc); however, over 1,800 applications have been submitted for new gTLDs. The first 27 are scheduled to launch and go live this month. These first 27 new gTLDs appear to all be in non-Latin scripts such as Arabic, Japanese and Chinese. Later this year, many other new gTLDs are scheduled to go live. Among the applied for gTLDs are well known brands and also generic terms. For example, .apple (applied for by Apple Inc.); .coach (applied for by Coach Inc.); .fedex (applied for by Federal Express Corp.); .tires (applied for by Goodyear); .fashion (applied for by 4 entities) and .books (applied for by 9 entities including Amazon).
The launch of these new gTLDs could impact brand owners because of the possibility of abuse and misuse of trademarks in the new domains.
It is uncertain how these new gTLDs will impact the Internet. However, if you are a brand owner your defense mechanism against possible abuse and misuse of your marks in the new domains will be your USPTO trademark registrations (or trademark registrations in other countries). A legitimate concern for brand owners could be the use of their brand within a new gTLDs without permission. Web-traffic could be diverted and adversely impact brands. This is a valid concern for all brand owners, as well as creators, businesses, blogs, municipalities and many others.
Here are a few details about the new gTLDs:
- PRICE: $185,000 to apply for a new gTLD (plus ongoing maintenance and other fees).
- ICANN is the not-for-profit entity reviewing and approving applications.
- ICANN is an acronym for “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers”
- PURPOSE: to increase competition and choice in the internet domain space (as stated by ICANN).
- OPEN & CLOSED DOMAINS: The new gTLDs will be a mix of open and closed domains. As the name implies, the closed domains will be controlled by the owner of the gTLD (including control of all content). Open gTLDs, on the other hand will be open domains, with broader access.
- Link to search the new gTLDs which have been applied for: https://gtldresult.icann.org/application-result/applicationstatus
Stay tuned for future posts as the gTLDs launch and this new technology exposes new legal issues.
BY: Vanessa Kaster, Esq., LL.M.
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