New top-level domains in works

Domain Name System Set To Expand

Jun-24-2008 | Source: Managing Intellectual Property

The body that regulates internet domain names is set to permit the creation of an unlimited number of new top-level domains this week

At its meeting in Paris starting today, ICANN will discuss the New gTLD Program, which was started in 2006.

If, as is expected, the plans are approved then any organization would be able to apply to launch a new gTLD, provided it meets the relevant criteria.

It is expected that the first new TLDs could be launched as soon as next year, with hundreds of applicants already expressing an interest in running them.

In anticipation of the launch of new gTLDs, the ICANN IP Constituency (IPC), which represents IP owners, has drawn up a guide to pre-launch rights protection mechanisms for gTLDs and ccTLDs.

It is sponsored by MARQUES, the association of European trade mark owners.

The guide is designed for operators of new gTLDs who may not be familiar with IP rights. It covers why rights protection mechanisms (RPM) are important and some ingredients of a programme to protect rights.

It also provides details of the RPM used in five gTLDs: .aero, .asia, .biz, .mobi and .museum.

Recent TLD launches have provided sunrise periods for rights owners, allowing them to protect rights such as trade marks before the registry opens to the public. These often include validation of the rights, and are operated on a first-come, first-served basis or (in the case of .asia) with an auction.

Nick Wood, of Com Laude, who edited the guide, said: “We have strived to encourage good practice rather than to mandate any particular measures.”

He added that RPM are the best means of preventing cybersquatting in the new gTLDs: “It is too late to stop ICANN from introducing new gTLDs but this effort may help in creating a better environment for rights owners.”

The guide also asks 10 brand owners what they think of pre-launch RPM.

J Scott Evans of Yahoo! said: “I don’t mind competing against others under a first come first served system or in an auction. As long as it’s fair with the validation of rights and a fast challenge mechanism.”

He added: “What I’d really like to see though is some better pricing, especially discounts for registering more than 10 domain names in a Sunrise.”

James Elliott of PartyGaming said: “I am not a fan of the introduction of hundreds of new gTLDs. However, if we must have them, it is vital that the RPMs they operate are affordable and well-managed.”

In his welcoming letter, Paul Twomey, ICANN president, describes the meeting schedule in Paris as “packed”. He highlights updates on Internationalized Domain Names and the transition of the Joint Project Agreement with the US Government among the issues due to be discussed.

Managing IP will be reporting from the ICANN meeting in Paris: check the website for updates during the week.

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