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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

An update on new gTLDs

By guest blogger Dr Bruce Tonkin, Chief Technology Officer, Melbourne IT Ltd

As reported in a previous blog post, new top level domains names are progressively being introduced into the Internet.

In March 2012, there were more than 1500 applications for new names at the top level of the DNS.  Companies such as Amazon and Google applied for more than 100 names each. These names vary from geographic names like .Brussels, company names like .BMW, industry sector names like .Clothing, and generic names like .International.

Between July 2013 and February 2014, 290 of these names were allocated to organisations and from 5-10 new names are being allocated every week. Of these new names, over 150 have been added to the top level of the DNS, again at the rate of about 5-10 per week.

For at least the 120 days after a name is added to the DNS, the only second level domain name allowed to be active is 'nic' (network information centre). Examples of these websites include http://nic.monash, http://nic.club, and http://nic.kiwi.

Beginning in February 2014, some of these new namespaces have now progressed to open registration, and have begun to have active websites at the second level. More than 200,000 second level names have now been registered in these new namespaces. Examples of these namespaces  include .guru, .clothing, .plumbing, and .camera. You can use the Google search engine to find active website within these namespaces, by using the search term 'site:' followed by the name space. For example, a search for 'site:.guru', yields many websites that can be accessed using a .guru name. You can search for a particular topic by typing the search keyword, followed by 'site:', and followed by the relevant name space. For example, a search for 'accounting software site:.guru' detects  http://navision.guru and http://helion.guru.  Examples of active domains in the new namespaces include http://busselton.plumbing, http://bigsizes.clothing, and http://www.brownie.camera.

The typical launch phases for a new name space are as follows.

  • There is an initial 60-day 'sunrise' period for trademark owners to get the first right to register a second level domain name.
  • The sunrise period is followed by by a 90-day 'claims' period, where trademark holders are notified if a name matching the trademark is being registered at the second level.

The launch phases for each new name are published at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/sunrise-claims-periods.

To take advantage of the ability to obtain a domain name during sunrise, or to be notified of a new registration at the second level, a trade mark holder must first register its trade mark in a new global database of trade marks relevant for domain names called the Trademark Clearinghouse. Trade marks can be registered in the clearinghouse for periods of one, three or five years. Registrations in the clearinghouse are validated against the relevant national trade mark registers, and the registration is re-validated each year.

Trade mark owners should consider registering their most valuable trade marks in the Trademark Clearinghouse to ensure they are notified when second level domains matching their brand are registered.  This allows the trade mark owner to monitor the use of the domain name and take appropriate action if there is infringing content.

Marketing staff and agencies may wish to view the pipeline of new names being released, and identify potential second level domains that could be useful in marketing.  For example, an airline might want to register its brand along with cities that it flies to – for example, Qantas.Tokyo – or a software company might want to register its brand along with names like support or training – for example, Microsoft.Support or Microsoft.Training.

The sunrise period offers the best chance of securing the best domain names, provided that the applicant has the appropriate trade mark. In other cases, a company can simply wait until the sunrise period is over, and register more generic names for marketing purposes during the claims period. For example, an airline may wish to register cheapflights.tokyo at the first opportunity after sunrise.

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