ICANN has announced the release of new generic top level domains gTLD’s making changes in domains possible and potentially creating new registrars for the second level domains. The video below from ICANN discusses the idea of brands reserving a gTLD and potentially branding the second level domains. There’s a significant cost to buying gTLD’s – $185,000 and a long approval process – up to a year wait – so this will never be a trivial decision. It does seem to favor big brands however, due to the cost and the required infrastructure and business processes needed to manage a gTLD.
Let’s look at an example:
Apple computer reserves the gTLD .apple and now has the option of creating second level domains under multiple products:
But taking that further – those who purchase more generic terms could actively sell second level domains under their top level domain. Let’s say .pizza – builds a registrar around selling the second level domains. A small business could own .pizza under this structure and sell to local businesses worldwide:
But will big brands start to snap up gTLD’s to prevent competitors from locking them up? What if Domino’s is first to buy .pizza and won’t sell – either to small local restaurants or to competing brands on the second level? If competitors play nice – (how likely is that), they could agree to share a gTLD. Since the owner of a generic top level domain can decide whether or not to sell second level domains under them, it may mean some become widely available and some won’t. Seems like ICANN could be in a position to make some tough decisions.
What is more likely that the above scenario is that big brands will jump in to attempt to control the generic names for their products. If they do that – there will be very few gTLD’s that are widely sold. Perhaps I’m a bit cynical, but I see some bigger battles on the horizon than we’ve seen around simple trademark disputes for second level domains.