• New gTLDs Are Available: Will it Be a .Brand World?
  • January 24, 2012 | Author: Alicia Brown Oliver
  • Law Firm: Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel, P.C. - Chattanooga Office
  • On January 12, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) launched the initial application period for registration of new generic top level domains (gTLDs), making the internet wide open to a whole new class of domains.  In the past, we’ve been limited to “.com”, “.net”, “.org” and other common gTLDs.  Now, ICANN will allow you to customize your domain by putting  “.yourbrandhere”, .”city”, “.product”, etc. after the dot.  The possibilities are endless but the price tag is hefty, costing $185,000 just to apply.

    Most businesses aren’t going to make this type of investment in a domain name; however, brand owners do need to monitor for possible infringement as we enter this new era.  The first step will be to review the applications filed in the initial period, which closes on April 12, 2012.  If an application has been filed to register a domain name that includes a term that is identical or confusingly similar to a trademark, the trademark owner should object to registration through a special process set up by ICANN.

    Many are also predicting that trademark infringement may occur at the second level once the domains go live, particularly in the online hospitality, retail and financial services sectors where potential customers are searching for the lowest price point.  For example, online trading service TidalShare’s competitor may register ”.trade” and use “tidalshare.trade” to lure away customers.  ICANN is setting up a Trademark Clearinghouse where trademark owners can validate their rights and participate in a dispute resolution process rather than having to file suit.

    It is unknown exactly how widely these new gTLDs will be used; however, it will be very important to monitor and police your trademarks or brands on the internet as applications are processed and new domains go live.