ICANN Releases Application Data for New Top-Level Domain Names

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently announced that it received nearly 2,000 applications for new generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) names. The most popular was “.app,” which was requested by thirteen applicants including Google and Amazon.

While entities have traditionally been limited to an Internet extension such as .com, .net or .org, ICANN is now allowing businesses, organizations, and governments to operate a gTLD of their own choosing. The new gTLD application window began in January and closed on May 30, 2012.

ICANN data reveals that the most applications (911) came from the United States, while 675 came from Europe, 303 from the Asia Pacific, and 24 from Latin America. ICANN has also released a list of which organizations have applied for which specific domain names. Several notable companies like American Express, BMW, and Apple applied for gTLDs, likely to protect their well-known brands from any confusion. However, other companies like Facebook and Twitter did not apply for domain names with their trademarks, suggesting that the tech companies either aren’t buying into the new domain name boom or have elected to take a defensive approach.

The next step is a lengthy evaluation process. The applications will now be subject to a public comment and objection period, and a rigorous, objective and independent evaluation system, according to ICANN.

“A 60-day comment period begins today, allowing anyone in the world to submit comments on any application, and the evaluation panels will consider them,” said ICANN representative Kurt Pritz. “If anyone objects to an application and believes they have the grounds to do so, they can file a formal objection to the application. And they will have seven months to do that.”

Successful applicants for the new gTLD names will be active starting next year, according to ICANN.

What Do the New gTLDs Mean for Businesses?

While the new domain names offer additional opportunities for businesses to market their brands, they also come with risks, notably trademark abuse and cybersquatting. Therefore, companies should develop a strategy for addressing the new domain names.

Now that the application data has been released, the first step should be to review the list of applications to see if another entity has filed an application for a gTLD that represents your brand or trademark. In many cases, it is possible to file a formal objection with ICANN.

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