by Herman Manson (@marklives) Mike Silber, a Director at ICANN, says brands who have not participated in the current round of applications have been pressing to get clarity on further opportunities to apply for new gTLDs. While the ICANN Board has committed to further rounds of applications, it has not yet provided a time frame for those applications.

It will take approximately a year for the current roster of applications to be approved and depending on the final number approved, between one and two years to roll them out at a maximum rate of 1 000 per year (they will be rolled out through-out the year rather than in a single bunch to ensure the stability of the Net). So within the next several years the opportunity will again present itself to apply for new generic top level domains, including brand names.

If your competitors have applied for their brand names to be registered you need to investigate if and how it might impact on their, and your own, marketing strategy, says Silber.

Brands need to develop and adapt a domain strategy. This includes protecting your brands in existing gTLDs and ccTLDs (country code top level domains like .za and .uk) as well as seeking to put them the top level domains where they really need to be – particularly domains such as .app or .hotel if they are relevant to your business.

Also look at protecting your brands in the new top level domains that are less relevant or not relevant. Many brands were concerned about brand dilution or damage and defensively registered names under the adult content-related domain .xxx that was launched in 2011 to prevent competitors or squatters registering their names. Similar brand protection actions are expected in new gTLDs that are not directly relevant but could be damaging if used by third parties.

Silber also recommends marketers consider registering their brands at the ICANN trademark clearinghouse which, according to ICANN, “will accept and authenticate rights information, and will support both trademark claims and sunrise services, required in all new gTLDs.”

Don’t forget to go through the new gTLD application list and raise objections where appropriate.

Arthur Goldstuck, the MD of World Wide Worx, says that the online environment is mirroring what is happening offline. He argues that mom and pop stores will never be able to afford the rent on Times Squire but that they can find other innovative spaces (and domain names) from where to build viable businesses.

Goldstuck warns that owning too many top level domains might lead to consumer confusion while not opening them up to the open market might put a brand in danger as consumers might take a dim view of uncompetitive behaviour.

Also see: New generic top level domains hold dangers for brands, democratisation of Internet

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