23 March 2023TrademarksLiz Hockley

Launch of new gTLDs moves a step closer as ICANN approves plan

“Pivotal moment” for industry as web body ICANN aims to open next round of generic top-level domains | Board met in Mexico and approved 98 recommendations | Full details and comment.

The next round of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) moved a step closer as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ( ICANN) board of directors met in Mexico to approve a sweep of recommendations last week (March 11-16).

At the ICANN76 Community Forum in Cancún, the board discussed the New gTLD Subsequent Procedures Policy Development Process and adopted 98 recommendations that will set in motion the start of the implementation of the next round of gTLDs.

With an anticipated deadline of opening the gTLDs no later than August 1 this year, the board has instructed ICANN to deliver an implementation plan that will include a work plan, infrastructure design, timelines and anticipated resource requirements. ICANN has a budget of $9 million to fund the implementation work through to October this year.

The process will include discussions on how to handle closed generics—a top-level domain under the control of a single organisation—for the next round of new gTLDs. There is split opinion over closed generics and concerns have been raised to ICANN in the past that they could be used in a way that it is “inappropriately exclusive, particularly in the sense of creating a competitive advantage”.

ICANN will focus on encouraging uptake of its new gTLD programme from potential applicants in currently underserved or underrepresented regions, the organisation said, to enable the introduction of new gTLDs into the domain name space.

Tripti Sinha, board chair at ICANN, said: “We must work together to ensure the resiliency, security, and future of the internet.

“The remaining recommendations require collaboration between the ICANN community, board, and org [ICANN]. This is a tremendous opportunity for us to collectively commit the resources and effort necessary to solve thorny issues and achieve our shared goal of launching the next round of new gTLDs.”

dotBrand interest

Commenting on the update from ICANN, Glenn Hayward, CEO at domain name services firm Com Laude, said: “ICANN’s decision to move forward with the implementation of the new generic top-level domains is indeed a pivotal moment for our industry. And furthermore, it presents businesses with the opportunity to launch their dedicated digital namespace—for many with their brand name/s to the right of the dot.

“And while there is still a little way to go before the next round of applications opens, we’re encouraged by ICANN’s ambition to move the process forward, having just approved the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) policy recommendations.”

A GoDaddy Corporate Domains (GCD) survey at the end of last year revealed a slight increase in interest for dotBrand TLDs compared to the 2021. Eight per cent of respondents said they were “very likely” to apply for a dotBrand TLD, up from 6% the previous year, and 14% said they were “likely” to apply, compared to 10% in 2021.

However, interest was expected to ramp up once a definitive timeline for the rollout was released by ICANN.

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