ICANN Opens the Door to Branded TLDs

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has voted to lift the limit on the  number of generic Top Level Domains that can be used in internet address endings.

Currently, there are just 22 gTLDs (.com, org etc.,) plus around 250 country-level domains (.co.uk), that can be used in internet addresses. ICANN’s decision will allow businesses and brands to register their company/brand name as a gTLD. In fact, the move will mean that almost any word in any language can be used as the TLD, upon payment of a fee of $185,000 (£114,000), and approval by ICANN’s board.

Applications will be accepted from 12 January, 2012, and the fee is payable, irrespective of whether or not the application is successful. The application window will remain open for 60 days from 12 January, after which, it will be closed for another three years.

Peter Dengate Thrush, chairman of ICANN’s board of directors, says that: “Today’s decision will usher in a new internet age. We have provided the platform for the next generation of creativity and innovation.”

Matthew Sammon, a partner at intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk, says that large companies like Coca-Cola and Google have been waiting years for this opportunity to fully brand their web addresses, and that every brand that can is likely to apply for its own domain suffix.

“The lengthy and costly procedure involved in the application for the new domain suffixes should help to keep would-be cyber-squatters out of the process,” says Sammon. “However, we’re yet to find how the story will end for two companies who own the right to the same trade name in different territories and both want it for their domain name suffix. Such cases may lead to a race to file the application with ICANN, or even an auction.”