12 Feb 2012

ICANN’s New Generic Top-Level Domains (GTLDs) Registration: Risks And Benefits Analysis

The allotment of new generic top level domain names (new GTLDs) by Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has been recently approved. Now the process of registration of new GTLDs is in full swing. The new GTLDs application process has started from 12 January 2012 and would end on 29th March 2012. As on 12-02-2012, the applicants have 46 more days to apply for new GTLDs.

While the brand and trademark owners can register their brands and trademarks as the GTLDs yet the entire process is not free from troubles and risks. There would be many unforeseen challenges that would crop up before the applicants. Even the filing of a GTLD application would not be an easy task and would require techno legal expertise.

According to ICANN, the new GTLDs promise to expand the domain name system (DNS) and change the Internet forever. However, ICANN warns that the decision to apply for a new GTLD should not be entered into lightly. This is so because applying to run your own GTLD is not the same as registering a second-level domain name. When you apply for a new GTLD you are applying to run a registry business. You will be responsible for a critical and highly visible piece of Internet infrastructure. This would include legal, administrative, financial and management responsibilities to be fulfilled.

The potential benefits of managing GTLDs include entrepreneurship, increased control, ongoing revenue stream, innovative marketing opportunity, innovative business models, internationalised Domain Names (IDNs), engaging your community, bring together your geographic area, etc.

The potential risks and responsibilities include high investments, possible loss of investment in case of non allotment of applied GTLD, compliance with contractual restrictions, staffing, competition, uncharted territory, etc.

Perry4Law and Perry4Law Techno Legal Base (PTLB) strongly suggest that this is not a complete list of all the risks. Do not rely on this list alone. You should do your own independent research and consult your own technical, business, and legal experts. This list is provided only as general information to get you started.

The introduction of new GTLDs will affect most organisations. Whether or not you decide to apply for a new GTLD, you should still pay attention to the process. In May 2012, once all the applied-for strings have been posted, you will have an opportunity to object to any that you believe would infringe your legal rights. We would cover the Legal Rights Objections under ICANN's New GTLD scheme separately.