Generic top-level domain names ("gTLDs") consist of the web addresses that typically end in .com, .net, .org and the like. The organization that oversees these web addresses is called The Internet Corporate Asociation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and when it started in 1998 there were only eight possible dot-somethings a web site could end with. In 2004, additional gTLDs were added, and around this time there was a greater expansion and use of country code top-level domains like .cn (China), .uk, (United Kingdom) and .ru (Russia). Securing domain names in these well-defined parameters became big business, with brands vying to own the most relevant domain name to their products, and in some cases, paying big money for them.
Get ready to say hello to dot everything! In June 2008 ICANN voted unanimously to modify the domain name system allowing for an unlimited number top-level domain names. To web users this means that you may find your self visiting www.basketball.nike to buy shoes or www.cellphone.att to pay your wireless bill. According to John McKeown's article in The Lawyers Weekly (March 11, 2011) ICANN's optimism about these changes is fueled by their belief that they will "create more choice for Internet users, empower innovation, stimulate economic activity and generate new business opportunities around the world." Brand owners, however, see a much more expensive effect, that being the need to "obtain registration for defensive purposes and incur expenses to monitor a significantly increased number of potential abuses."
Much has been written both for and against these changes. There are over 115 gTLD proposals that might be made in 2011 alone, and with ICANN evaluation fees starting at $185,000 brand owners can expect to spend a pretty penny making sure their brands stay clear on the web. This event will look at the trademark and marketing implications behind the changes, and suggest some best practices for navigating the oncoming gTLD bonanza.
What happens when you can have dot-anything after your web address? The dot-com world is about to be rocked by proposed changes from ICANN that will affect brand owners, lawyers, and Internet users alike.This lawcast features John McKeown of Cassels, Brock LLP and Jim Davis of Arent Fox LLP talking about what the expansion in generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) will do to life as we know it on the Internet.
"John supervises obtaining, protecting and licensing trade marks and hundreds of successful trade mark applications have been filed. He is involved in many opposition proceedings before the Trade-marks Opposition Board and actions for infringement. He works with a team of law clerks to deliver cost effective service." (From John's profile on CasselsBrock.com)
"Jim has represented clients in hundreds of adversarial proceedings, including federal lawsuits, T.T.A.B. disputes and ICANN's Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy ("UDRP"). (From Jim's profile on ArentFox.com)