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Getting The Deal Through

Global overview

Flip Petillion

Petillion

Wednesday 08 May 2019


Over the past few years, the internet’s naming system has been undergoing a profound change initiated in June 2011 when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) started a programme to allow any organisation to apply for a new generic top-level domain (gTLD). Now, in addition to .com, .fr or .be, you can find domain names under top-level domains (TLDs) including keywords (.music), cities (.paris), industries (.bank) and brands (.yahoo). ICANN received 1,936 new gTLD applications in 2012 and plans to open further application rounds in the near future. We are now eight years into the programme, with over 1,500 TLDs now operational. Yet, despite the fact that some gTLD applications are still being processed, there are calls for a next round of applications; some even call for a permanent window. Companies such as Twitter – which let the 2011 round pass – are among the brand owners already lining up for this future internet naming expansion. A Subsequent Procedures working group within ICANN has already finished reviewing the first new gTLD application round and has proposed initial recommendations for the second round. These initial recommendations deal with, inter alia, the rules of eligibility, the application process, timing, costs, geographic names, objections, string similarity, etc. For example, with regard to string similarity, the working group has recommended to prohibit the delegation of both singular and plural versions of the same word as coexisting gTLDs. During the first round, gTLDs such as .car and .cars have both been delegated but similarity issues arose in other instances. Additionally, the allocation of new gTLDs on a first-come, first-served basis has also come into question, with certain stakeholders advocating an application system based on subsequent application rounds for different kinds of TLD categories, namely brand TLDs, geographic TLDs, and generic and community TLDs. With internet fraud reaching new highs, many brands see the opportunity to control their link to the root zone of the global internet as a well-justified security investment. What this means for online branding, and indeed the internet naming system as a whole, remains to be seen. Early indications, however, are that change is inevitable. Key in barclays.com and you are redirected to home.barclays. American rapper 50 Cent hosts a fan page on 50inda.club. Google uses its .new gTLD to allow users to quickly create new documents, for example by typing document.new in their browser. Social causes are also capitalising on the easier-to-remember naming conventions possible with new gTLDs; for example, autism research funded by concerts is promoted at autism.rocks.

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