The promise and pitfalls of expanding gTLDs


Consumers, companies and Internet stakeholders should be cautious about the expansion of the generic top level domain space, say Jonathan Cohen and Victoria Carrington.

The largest expansion of the generic top level domain (gTLD) space to date is looming ever closer and remains the subject of international public consultations and discussions among Internet stakeholders aimed at resolving the many crucial issues and concerns raised by the new gTLD programme before its anticipated launch this year.

The implications of this impending gTLD expansion are of great significance for trademark and brand owners, with both positive (increased diversity, innovation and competition) and negative (increased potential for violation or abuse of trademark rights) effects. Consequently, an understanding of the issues and how to make the voice of IP rights owners heard is crucial to ensuring that trademark rights are adequately protected when the new gTLDs are rolled out.

The eight original gTLDs (including .com, .net and .org) were increased to the current total of 21 by two previous application rounds for new gTLDs in 2000 and 2004, when gTLDs such as .biz, .coop, .mobi and .asia were introduced. There are also approximately 250 country code TLDs (ccTLDs), such as .ca and .us, which are generally under the management of the appropriate national group and/or government. Currently, all TLDs are in ASCII (Latin) characters only.

icann, dns, gtlds, rpms, .brand