Later this year, the first new generic top level domains (gTLDs) will be launched. While the new names won’t be released all at once, we will begin to see them entering the market a few at a time. In this article we will offer some explanation as to why the new gTLDs are being released this way.
There is one big difference between the current round of gTLD applications and previous rounds. This time, practically any corporation or organization that fulfills certain requirements is eligible to apply as a new registry for its preferred gTLD. The specific requirements (concerning finances, technical realization and policy) and the application process were defined by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) in 2012’s Applicant Guidebook. With a cost of $185,000 just to file the application itself, the process was rather expensive. Nevertheless, 1,930 applications were filed, many of which were for the same TLDs.
In March of 2013, ICANN started publishing the results of their initial evaluation of applications. If the evaluation is positive, the applying corporation or organization can proceed to contracting. After signing a contract with ICANN it can start its work as a new registry. To prevent this from happening all at once, ICANN has given out random prioritization numbers to each application. ICANN plans to contract around 20 applicants per week. For this reason, TLDs with higher prioritization numbers will probably enter the market in one and a half to two years.
However, not all applications will run as smoothly as the process described above. ICANN has devised a complex system of objections and dispute resolutions. For example, trademark owners have the possibility to object to a certain new gTLD string (a Legal Rights Objection). Other reasons for objections were: Limited public interest, the possibility of confusion with an already existing TLD, and objections made by a community to be targeted by a new TLD. Overall, ICANN has recorded 270 of these objections. The most famous example would be the eCommerce giant Amazon that saw itself faced with objections by some South American governments out of the Amazon region. If several parties applied for a new TLD, ICANN encourages a peaceful resolution. Applicants might for instance agree on joint ventures and consider filing an application together. As a last resort of solving these types of conflicts, ICANN plans to hold auctions for new TLD strings.
As soon as the new TLD has been delegated to an applicant, and the contracting between ICANN and the new registry has been successful, the registry can start contracting registrars such as 1&1 Internet. These registrars can then offer the new TLDs to their customers, but not every new TLD will be available on the open market. Corporations and organizations also have the possibility to only use the new TLDs for themselves. When a TLD makes it to the open market, there must be at least 30 days of a “sunrise period.” During this time, trademark owners may safeguard the domain name that matches their trademark. The next step after the sunrise period is the “landrush period.” From that point on, the new gTLDs are on a “first come, first served” basis.
The evaluation, objection, and contracting processes through ICANN are time consuming. Furthermore, the results of contracting between the new registries and potential registrars are difficult to predict. That’s why at the moment it is tough to determine which new TLDs will be offered for registration to consumers and businesses, or when. On 1&1’s product page for the new TLDs, the company offers a free, no obligation pre-reservation. This way, you’ll always be up to date and have the best prerequisites to register your domain as soon as it will be available.
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