The New gTLDs: Who, What and When


ICANN is now implementing its plans to permit the creation of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). TLDs are everything to the right of the dot. (For example, a new gTLD might be .canada, .newyork, or .mac) Many brand owners are tired of seeing announcements about gTLDs, Sunrise Periods and procedures for rightsholders. Seemingly endless changes – from the launch of new TLDs such as dot-ASIA and dot-XXX, to the introduction of internationalized domain names, to recent dot-CA changes – make this a bewildering area of law for trade-mark owners. Here is a summary of what to expect from ICANN in 2012:

  • January 2012  - ICANN started accepting applications for new gTLDs. Who will apply? With a US$185,000 application fee, and significant legal and technical hurdles, the applicants are expected to be limited to large corporations and investor groups with a business plan directed at a specific community or niche. Remember that the list of new gTLDs will likely include non-Latin domains, based on Cyrillic, Chinese or Arabic.
  • April 12, 2012  – The application period closes.
  • May 1, 2012 is “Reveal Day” at which point the applicants and their proposed TLDs are published. This triggers a seven-month objection period, during which rightsholders can file a complaint based on valid rights to the string of characters that make up the gTLD. For example, trade-mark owners may make an objection to a proposed gTLD on this basis.
  • Late 2012 – ICANN has proposed a “Trademark Clearinghouse” which would be a (very cumbersome) database of registered trademarks to support trademark claims and sunrise services. As new gTLDs are launched, ICANN will require that every new gTLD operator uses this Clearinghouse and conducts both a Trademark Claims and a Sunrise Process. 
  • Late 2012 – probably sometime in 2013 – The actual launch of new gTLDs, with the usual array of Sunrise and Landrush Periods.

We’ll keep you posted as this develops.

You’ll notice we didn’t cover the question “Why”. Why is there a compelling need for new gTLDs?  If you figure that one out, please let us know.

Calgary – 07:00 MST


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