Generic Top Level Domains Program - Update
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) introduced a programme in June 2008 for new generic top level domains (gTLDs). The intended implementation target was the first half of 2009 but the implementation has been delayed.
What are the new gTLDs?
We already have the likes of ".com", ".net" and ".org". Soon brand owners will have the opportunity to turn their trade marks into website addresses, for example ".brand".
Implications for brand owners
Owners of brands who have already had to deal with infringement and passing off in the virtual world are being very active in the ICANN consultations to ensure that their rights are adequately protected. As well as opening up opportunities for brand owners to increase brand presence online, the new program will open up opportunities for those who want to take advantage of the brand. We have already seen this with "cybersquatting" and more recently, Facebook name hijacking.
Registered trade mark protection has proven vital to ensure that domain names are registered by their rightful owner. It is likely to be vital here, too and ICANN has already incorporated in its proposals certain safeguards for those who have registered their trade marks.
The first applications for gTLDs are expected to be possible early 2010 and a rush is being predicted for not only the gTLDs themselves but also for the right to prevent their unlawful adoption.