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  • New gTLD Update: .PARIS, .PIZZA And .OOOWed, 09/17/2014 - 23:25

    Highlights:

     This week, we see the launch of:

    • One new Rightside ‘Regulated’ TLD (.ENGINEER)
    • The geoTLD .PARIS, with TMCH-validated trademarks now having first priority during launch
    • Two new TLDs for the Galician linguistic and cultural community (.GAL) and Basque (Euskara) language  community (.EUS)
    • Four new Donuts TLDs (.PIZZA, .IMMO, .BUSINESS and .NETWORK)
    • .OOO 

    Furthermore, the registry operators for .CEO and .BEST are to release over 1,000 two-character domains under these TLDs on 15 September, which might appeal to those CEOs preferring to use their initials, or simply wishing to secure a shorter domain.

    We also draw your attention to an update on NXD (“name collision”) names, particularly for Donuts TLDs, and most importantly that when they announce launch dates and pricing from now on, the only reserved names will be for Donuts registry and ICANN globally reserved names. Names will no longer be reserved due to name collisions concerns.

    New gTLDs Launched/Announced

     .PARIS – Change to Priority Categories during Single Launch Phase

     Registry operator City of Paris has advised that there has been a reordering of the priority categories in the launch phase for its new geoTLD .PARIS.

     During the single launch phase, which started on 9 September and runs until 11 November 2014 (13:00 UTC), priority will now first be given to holders of TMCH-validated trademarks and not to Public administrations in the Paris area, as previously announced, as follows:

    Priority/Category Summary
    1. Sunrise for TMCH-validated trademarks
    In the event of multiple eligible applications for the same name, an application based on a local trade mark (a trade mark with effect in France, including French trade marks, CTMs or WIPO International trade marks registered in France) will have priority over those applications based on non-local trade marks.Where there is more than one eligible application for the same domain applied for by either different holders of local trade marks or exclusively by holders of non-local trade marks, the application based on the oldest registered trade mark will succeed.
    1. Public Administration Limited Registration Period
    Public Authorities in the Greater area of Paris (Région Île-de-France) may register:(i) their own names (including any variations and abbreviations thereof and other terms commonly used to describe them);(ii) names of public services for which they have specific responsibilities; and(iii) geographical names for any subdivision of the Greater area of Paris (e.g. departments, districts, neighbourhoods cantons, streets), its monuments, symbols, local landmarks, or other locally-relevant and iconic names in the Greater area of Paris over which they are the relevant authority, including variations and abbreviations thereof.Multiple applications for the same domain will result in names applied for by the City of Paris having priority over names applied by other Public Authorities.

    Multiple applications for the same domain applied for by Public Authorities other than the City of Paris will be determined by agreement between the contenders (mediation or random selection, if all contenders agree) or by auction.

    1. Additional Trademarks and other French IP Rights Limited Registration Period
    Domains in this category are for holders of:(i) local trade marks (trade marks with effect in France, including French trade marks, CTMs and WIPO International trade marks registered in France) not validated by the TMCH; and(ii) geographical indications recognized by International treaties, EU regulations or French legislation.Multiple applications for the same domain will result in the application based on the oldest registered trade mark or geographic indication succeeding.
    1. Other Prior Rights Limited Registration Period
    This category is for holders of:(i) corporate names, trade names and DBA names, including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof, of corporations with a legal seat or place of business in the Greater area of Paris (Région Île-de-France); and(ii) registered names, including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof, of non-for-profit legal entities with a legal seat or place of business in the Greater area of Paris (Région Île-de-France).Multiple applications for the same domain in this category will result in an auction.
    1. Landrush
    For those wishing to apply for domains not allocated under Priority Categories 1-4. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.

     

    Applications for domains under all five categories above will be accepted simultaneously and allocated at the end of the Launch Phase according to the hierarchy of priority statusof each category.

    General Availability will follow on 2 December 2014 (13:00 UTC).

     We would like to remind you that local nexus (local presence) and other general requirements are applicable to all .PARIS registrations in addition to the requirements above:

    You must be an individual or legal entity with bona fide presence in the Greater area of Paris at the time of registration and thereafter and able to demonstrate either:

    1. that you are a resident of the Greater area of Paris; or
    2. that you pursue professional, personal, commercial or cultural activities in the Greater area of Paris; or
    3. that you have any other direct or indirect nexus with the Greater area of Paris.

    United TLD (Rightside Registry) – .ENGINEER

    Registry operator United TLD Holdco, Ltd has announced the launch schedule for the next of its new gTLDs, .ENGINEER, as follows:

    Sunrise Opens Sunrise Closes Sunrise Type Early Access Program (EAP) Day 1 Early Access Program (EAP) Closes General Availability
    09-Sep-14 08-Nov-14 End Date Sunrise (not first-come, first served) 12-Nov-14 19-Nov-14 19-Nov-14

     

    During the Sunrise Phase, trade mark rights holders may register their domain names provided that the term applied for is in the TMCH, with multiple applications for the same domain resulting in an auction. The initial term of registration for a domain is 1 year.

    Please note that there will not be a Landrush Phase for these TLDs, but an Early Access Program (similar to Donuts EAP) with domains available to all, followed by General Availability, wherein domains will also be available to register on a first-come, first-served basis.

    During EAP and General Availability, domains may be registered for 1-10 years.

    IDNs are available in English, Spanish and French.

    Regulated TLDs

    Please note that United TLD classifies .ENGINEER as a “Regulated” TLD. Safeguards for Regulated TLDs:

    Registrants are required to comply with all applicable laws, including those that relate to privacy, data collection, consumer protection (including in relation to misleading and deceptive conduct), fair lending, debt collection, organic farming, disclosure of data, and financial disclosures. Additionally, if a Registrant collects and maintains sensitive health and financial data, they must implement reasonable and appropriate security measures commensurate with the offering of those services, as defined by applicable law.

    Rightside’s Registration Terms and Conditions may be viewed in full at: http://rightside.co/policies/Rightside_Registration_Terms.pdf

      .GAL

    Registry operator Asociación puntoGAL has announced the launch schedule for its new gTLD .GAL, for the Galician linguistic and cultural community on the Internet, as follows:

    Launch Phase Opens Launch Phase Closes* Sunrise Type General Availability
    16-Sep-14 18-Nov-14 End Date Sunrise(not first-come, first served) 02-Dec-14

    * except for the Public Interest LRP that will end on 25 November 2014 (13:00 UTC)

    During this single Launch Phase, six categories of applications will be accepted for domains: five categories for registrants with prior rights and one additional for applications without prior rights (Landrush). Applications for all six categories will be accepted simultaneously and will be allocated at the end of the Launch Phase according to the hierarchy of priority status of each category as follows:

    Priority/Category Summary
    1. Sunrise for TMCH-validated trademarks For holders of TMCH-validated trade marks, who also meet the nexus requirement to the .GAL community. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.
    2. Defensive Registrations TMCH-validated trade marks that do not comply with .GAL eligibility requirements. Such defensive registrations will block the registration by potential third-party applicants in the phases with lesser priority (Priority 3, 4 and 5 and Landrush).   Defensive registrations may not be activated in the DNS. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.
    3. Public Interest LRP* Limited Registration Period for legal entities having a specific vocation in promoting the Galician community Public Interest, including Public Administrations with competences Galicia, to register:(i) their own names (including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof);(ii) their online services;(iii) the same domain names registered by them in other TLDs and effectively used; and(iv) their registered trademarks.
    4. Local Trademarks LRP Limited Registration Period for legal entities who may register:- Non TMCH-validated trade marks with effect in Spain (Spanish trade marks, CTMs and WIPO International trade marks with effect in Spain) applied on or before 13 June 2012 and granted on or before 12 December 2013 and- Geographical Indications: recognized by International or Spanish legislation.The community nexus is also required. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.
    5. Prior Content LRP Limited Registration Period intended to allow legal entities proving prior online communications in Galician (e.g. via a website, mailing list, blog) to register:(i) their official names (including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof); and/or(ii) the same domains registered by them in other TLDs and effectively used.Multiple applications for the same domain within this category will result in an auction. Domains must also meet the eligibility requirements.
    6. Landrush Any interested party may apply to register domains not allocated under Categories 1-5. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction. Domains must also meet the eligibility requirements.

     

    General Availability will follow, under which domains may be registered by any natural person or entity on a first-come, first-served basis provided that they meet the eligibility requirements:

    Please note that in order to register a .GAL domain applicants must have a bona-fide membership of the Galician linguistic and cultural community on the Internet. The community consists of those who use (or commit to use) the Galician language for their online communications, and/or promote the different aspects of Galician culture online, and/or intend to specifically address their online communications and services to that community.

    Registrants are also required to state their intended use of the registered domain (a false statement of intended use could result in suspension of the domain).

    Community nexus is subject to post-validation.

     .EUS

    Registry operator Puntueus Fundazioa has announced the launch schedule for its new gTLD .EUS, for the Basque (Euskara) Language and Culture Community, as follows:

    Launch Phase Opens Launch Phase Closes* Sunrise Type General Availability
    16-Sep-14 (13:00 UTC) 18-Nov-14 (13:00 UTC) End Date Sunrise(not first-come, first served) 03-Dec-14 (13:00 UTC)

    * except for the Public Interest LRP that will end on 25 November 2014 (13:00 UTC)

    During this single Launch Phase, six categories of applications will be accepted for domains: five categories for registrants with prior rights and one additional for applications without prior rights (Landrush). Applications for all six categories will be accepted simultaneously and will be allocated at the end of the Launch Phase according to the hierarchy of priority status of each category as follows:

    Priority/Category Summary
    1. Sunrise for TMCH-validated trademarks For holders of TMCH-validated trade marks, who also meet the nexus requirement to the .EUS community. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in parties being offered the chance to agree on allocation, or mediation, arbitration, or random selection, with an auction as a last resort.
    2. Defensive Registrations TMCH-validated trade marks that do not comply with .EUS eligibility requirements. Such defensive registrations will block the registration by potential third-party applicants in the phases with lesser priority (Priority 3, 4 and 5 and Landrush).   Defensive registrations may not be activated in the DNS. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.
    3. Public Interest LRP* Limited Registration Period for legal entities having a specific vocation in promoting the Basque community Public Interest, including Public Administrations with competences in the areas where Basque is an autochthonous language, to register:(v) their own names (including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof);(vi) their online services;

    (vii) the same domain names registered by them in other TLDs and effectively used; and

    (viii) their registered trademarks.

    4. Local Trademarks LRP Limited Registration Period for legal entities who may register:- Non TMCH-validated trade marks with effect in the areas where Basque is an autochthonous language (Spanish or French trade marks, CTMs and WIPO International trade marks with effect in Spain or France) applied on or before 13 June 2012 and granted on or before 12 December 2013 and- Geographical Indications: recognized by International, Spanish or French legislation.

    The community nexus is also required. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction.

    5. Prior Content LRP Limited Registration Period intended to allow legal entities proving prior online communications in Basque (e.g. via a website, mailing list, blog) to register:(iii) their official names (including clear variations and/or abbreviations thereof); and/or(iv) the same domains registered by them in other TLDs and effectively used.

    Multiple applications for the same domain within this category will result in an auction. Domains must also meet the eligibility requirements.

    6. Landrush Any interested party may apply to register domains not allocated under Categories 1-5. Multiple applications for the same domain will result in an auction. Domains must also meet the eligibility requirements.

     

    General Availability will follow, under which domains may be registered by any natural person or entity on a first-come, first-served basis provided that they meet the eligibility requirements:

    Please note that in order to register a .EUS domain applicants must have a bona-fide membership of the Basque linguistic and cultural community on the Internet. The community consists of those who use (or commit to use) the Basque language for their online communications, and/or promote the different aspects of Basque culture online, and/or intend to specifically address their online communications and services to that community.

    Registrants are also required to state their intended use of the registered domain (a false statement of intended use could result in suspension of the domain).

    Community nexus is subject to post-validation.

    .OOO

    Registry operator INFIBEAM INCORPORATION LIMITED has announced the launch of its new gTLD .OOO as follows:

    Sunrise Opens Sunrise Closes Sunrise Type General Availability
    22-Sep-14 (00:00 UTC) 22-Oct-14 (23:59 UTC) Start Date Sunrise (first-come, first served) 23-Oct-14 (00:00 UTC)

     

    During the Sunrise Phase, trade mark rights holders may register their domain names on a first-come, first-served basis provided that the term applied for is in the TMCH.

    New Donuts Sunrises

    Registry operator Donuts has announced details of its next TLDs to launch into Sunrise as follows:

    New gTLD Sunrise Opens Sunrise Closes Sunrise Type Early Access Program (EAP) Day 1 General Availability
    .PIZZA 30-Sep-14 29-Nov-14 End Date Sunrise (not first-come, first served) 03-Dec-14 10-Dec-14
    .IMMO
    .BUSINESS
    .NETWORK

     

    IDNs are available in the following five scripts:

    • German
    • Chinese
    • French
    • Spanish
    • English

    The full launch schedule for Donuts’ new gTLDs can be found at: http://www.donuts.co/tlds

    Update on NXD Names

    ICANN now requires those TLDs delegated after 18 August to follow a new process with regard to name collisions, whereby the entire TLD must go through a period of continuous controlled interruption for 90 days prior to the opening of General Availability.

    This means that only the second-level domain “nic” must be delegated during this period and a registry mustn’t activate any other names under the TLD until the end of the 90 days.

    Donuts plan to run the end of this phase at the same time as the normal 60-day Sunrise period before opening it up for EAP Day 1 or General Availability.

    Therefore, when they announce launch dates and pricing from now on, the only reserved names will be for Donuts registry and ICANN globally reserved names – names will no longer be reserved due to name collisions concerns.

    For those TLDs delegated before 18 August and including all those currently in Sunrise or General Availability, all currently-reserved NXD names, or those due to be reserved at the end of an existing Sunrise, must also go through a period of continuous controlled interruption prior to being released into General Availability.

    Donuts will wildcard only those domains on the ICANN NXD (name collision) list for 90 days before releasing them into General Availability, opening General Availability with the Early Access Program.

    Release dates will be published soon, but are expected to start from January at the earliest.

    Further information on the wildcard process can be found at: http://newgtlds.icann.org/sites/default/files/agreements/name-collision-assessment-04aug14-en.htm

     .CEO and .BEST – Two-character domains to be released

    The registry operators for the TLDs .CEO and .BEST, CEOTLD Pty Ltd and BestTLD Pty Ltd, have announced that they are to release over 1,000 two-character domains under the TLDs on 15 September 2014, which might appeal to those CEOs preferring to use their initials, or indeed businesses and individuals keen to secure a shorter domain.

    The registry is also set to release a large number of names that appear on the Name Collision list in November this year.

    New gTLDs Currently Running

    Dot GLOBAL AS’s new gTLD .GLOBAL, which entered into General Availability on 9 September, has been featuring in the news this week with an article at thedomains.com.

    According to the article, the TLD ranked in the top 5 of all new gTLDs including .City gTLDs in the number of domains registered in Sunrise with almost 400 Sunrise registrations and added a further 225 domain names in its 9-day Landrush period.

    The full article can be found at:

    http://www.thedomains.com/2014/09/09/after-one-of-the-most-successful-sunrise-landrush-periods-global-goes-live-today/

    Closing Soon

    Launch Phase New gTLD Closing Date
    Sunrise SAARLAND 15-Sep-14
    Landrush PRESS 15-Sep-14
    Landrush WEBSITE 15-Sep-14
    Landrush REPUBLICAN 15-Sep-14
    Landrush SCOT 16-Sep-14
    Priority 3-5 Categories SCOT 16-Sep-14
    Priority 2 Category SCOT 19-Sep-14
    Sunrise DEALS 20-Sep-14
    Limited Registration III москва (xn--80adxhks) – Russian for “Moscow/ moskva” 22-Sep-14
    Limited Registration III MOSCOW 22-Sep-14
    Sunrise SOY 24-Sep-14
    Sunrise/Limited Registration 1/Limited Registration 2 MELBOURNE 26-Sep-14
    Landrush DESI 26-Sep-14
    Sunrise CITY 27-Sep-14
    Sunrise LAWYER 27-Sep-14
    Sunrise ATTORNEY 27-Sep-14
    Sunrise 商标 (xn--czr694b) – Chinese for “trademark” 30-Sep-14

     

    New gTLDs Delegated

    The first new gTLDs from ICANN’s New gTLD Program were delegated on 23 October 2013. This means they were added into the Internet’s Root Zone, the authoritative database for the Internet.

    25 further new gTLDs from ICANN’s New gTLD Program have recently been delegated, taking the total to 395:

    Date String Registry
    10-Sep-14 WME William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, LLC
    05-Sep-14 PHARMACY National Association of Boards of Pharmacy
    05-Sep-14 GMX 1&1 Mail & Media GmbH
    30-Aug-14 BOO Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 DAD Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 DAY Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 FRL FRLregistry B.V.
    30-Aug-14 ING Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 NEW Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 MOV Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 RSVP Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 EAT Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    30-Aug-14 MEME Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    29-Aug-14 YOUTUBE Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    29-Aug-14 HERE Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    29-Aug-14 PROD Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    29-Aug-14 ESQ Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    27-Aug-14 IMMO Auburn Bloom, LLC (Donuts)
    27-Aug-14 PIZZA Foggy Moon, LLC (Donuts)
    27-Aug-14 GMAIL Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    27-Aug-14 GBIZ Charleston Road Registry Inc.
    27-Aug-14 OTSUKA Otsuka Holdings Co., Ltd.
    22-Aug-14 BUSINESS Spring Cross, LLC (Donuts)
    22-Aug-14 企业 (xn--vhquv) – Chinese for “enterprise” Dash McCook, LLC (Donuts)
    22-Aug-14 NETWORK Trixy Manor, LLC (Donuts)

     

    The complete list of new gTLDs delegated to date is available at: http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/delegated-strings

     New gTLDs Signed

    The following new gTLD Registry operators have recently entered into a Registry Agreement with ICANN, under which they will operate their new gTLDs.

    New gTLD Registry Operator Date Contract Signed with ICANN
    .NOWRUZ Asia Green IT System Bilgisayar San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. 04-Sep-14
    .OSAKA Interlink Co., Ltd. 04-Sep-14
    .PARS Asia Green IT System Bilgisayar San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. 04-Sep-14
    .REIT National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, Inc. 04-Sep-14
    .SHIA Asia Green IT System Bilgisayar San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. 04-Sep-14
    .XN–MGBT3DHD – Persian for compeer, comrade, concomitant, along with, together with each other – همراه Asia Green IT System Bilgisayar San. ve Tic. Ltd. Sti. 04-Sep-14

     

    So far, a total of 508 Registry Agreements have been signed.  The full list of Registry Agreements can be viewed at: http://www.icann.org/en/about/agreements/registries

  • Hiker Logo Spurs Brewery Trademark Infringement SuitWed, 09/17/2014 - 17:15

    You’ve probably heard the proverb: “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” Well, two American breweries use logos featuring a hiker carrying a big stick and one has raised its voice in the form of a trademark infringement suit.

    Vermont’s Long Trail Brewing Co.’s logo features a hiker carrying a backpack and a stick:

    Long Trail

    Minnesota’s Bent Paddle Brewing Co. sells a “Trail Series” of beers that showcase two different hiker images, although the image under contention (pictured below) no longer appears on the company’s website:

    Bent Paddle

    Long Trail, which has been in business for 25 years and owns several trademarks that feature the hiker and the colors (along with one for “Take a Hike!”) is suing Bent Paddle Brewing for trademark infringement in U.S. District Court in Vermont. In court documents, the brewery claimed: “Bent Paddle’s use of a hiker logo in connection with its ale products is likely to cause confusion and mistake and deceive consumers” and creates the false impression that Bent Paddle’s products are connected with Long Trail.

    The company is seeking a ban of the logo, a recall of all the Paddle Brewing beer sold with the logo, triple damages, and legal fees.

    As seen above, both logos are enclosed by a circle and use almost identical colors. As one Techdirt commenter observed, you might say that the stick figure bares a close resemblance to those generic hiking signs you see in U.S. national parks.

    Whatever the issue—similar imagery, common names, related colors—the world of beer branding has become complex. All About Beer Magazine in “The Great Beer Trademark Wars” points out the sheer number of breweries presents the biggest challenge: “The field is crowded and once that happens it’s likely that there will be conflicts between brand names, product names, and trademarks.” In 2013, the number of American craft breweries reached nearly 3,000 with 1,600 more in the works. The article notes that BeerAdvocate.com tracks over 93,000 beer brands.

    Which hiker will walk away with the win in this case?

  • New TLD Update: Navigating Somebody Else’s Gold RushTue, 09/16/2014 - 17:14

    New gTLDs—The Challenge for IP Professionals

    ICANN’s announcement that it would expand the Internet with thousands of new Top-Level Domains was accompanied by a burst of hype: a new Gold Rush will dawn. Entrepreneurs lined up to make their fortunes. But the hype was met with a mixed reaction from IP professionals responsible for defending brands who wondered if these new fortunes would be made at their expense. ICANN addressed these concerns by creating the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). But would brand holders still face a new surge of cybersquatting—this time with far too many TLDs to attempt an old-fashioned strategy of “register everywhere just in case”? Where should they focus their time and money? The TMCH is a good tool, but how can it be used to best effect? (See our recent post on best use of the TMCH). Now that some 250 new TLDs have launched and are starting to develop real-world track records, what lessons can the IP professional learn?

    The first step is to distinguish between protecting a brand and registering a domain for use. If you want to use a URL, it’s simple: first and last, does the domain fit? How many of today’s URLs, even company names, are the result of trying domain after domain, less and less attractive, only to find them all registered—until you end up with one that you would never have considered at the start of the process? For example: you make furniture and you cannot get your brand or marketing term in .COM. Your team is growing desperate as they consider second, third, fourth choices—awkward variants or obscure international country code TLDs. If ‘yourbrand.furniture’ suddenly makes them cheer up, it has clear and substantial value. Register it! Use it! Who cares if the TLD itself has few registrations if the domain serves you well?

    The issues are different when you’re protecting a brand. How do you choose where to register and where to watch? Granted that no TLD is too obscure for a cybersquatter, the relative success of a new TLD will affect its popularity for all uses, benign and malign. You need to understand the business models being tested in the new gTLD industry to see where it will go and what to look for. You are coping with somebody else’s Gold Rush, after all—you’d best know the territory so it doesn’t happen at your expense.

    First, Review the Basics

    ICANN’s New gTLD Program will add over a thousand new gTLDs to the root zone to enhance competition, innovation, and consumer choice. The “first round” will create a maximum of 1,409 new TLDs.

    Some are single-registrant TLDs, so-called “.BRANDs” (e.g., .YAHOO, .IBM, .STATEFARM, etc.) in which a company runs its own private registry. Not many have launched yet, but we have seen the first company to jettison its .COM for its .BRAND. The state-owned Chinese company CITIC now forwards its .com to .CITIC. Some are gTLDs open to multiple registrants; these come in a wide range of restrictions, from none at all to tightly vetted professional affiliations. Some are geographic (“geoTLDs”) with or without a local presence requirement.

    About 250 new TLDs are now live, with hundreds more to come. We recommend you pay close attention to our New gTLD updates, which present this information in a digestible format so you can make reasoned decisions about where you should—and should not—register.

    Understanding the Industry Today: A Gold Rush, With Approaching Consolidation

    The new gTLD value proposition is not just in bypassing the fact that almost all useful .COMs are taken. it’s that .COM is a neutral, colorless term that is powerful only by historical accident. The idea, learned from the explosion of social media, is that a next-generation TLD will tap into more durable affinities—identity, industry, geographic location. Facebook spans the earth, but an enormous number of its users lose interest every month. The business model of a new gTLD registry is not just to collect registration and renewal fees, it is to create smaller but more durable online communities intuitively attractive to web users, and to give higher priority to search engines and higher value to advertisers.

    New TLD founders are entrepreneurs gambling that they can anticipate which communities will form— “build it and they will come.” Getting a single TLD through the ICANN approval process costs a quarter to a half million dollars so it’s an expensive bet. Some players, like Donuts, have the capital to apply for hundreds of TLDs and see which ones take off and which fail, but many are so small that they must bet everything on a few applications, or just one.

    The most promising TLDs attracted multiple applicants and the subsequent bidding wars between applicants are won by the deepest pockets. Because the ICANN resolution process involves winners paying losers to go away (sometimes for large sums) there are some happy losers out there. Some of them use what they are paid to win a bid on another TLD. But the result is that small players often end up with riskier TLDs because nobody else applied for them.

    Many of these small registry operators underestimated their costs to get this far and find themselves undercapitalized to build and market a working registry. Most operators overestimated their registration numbers and many know they will not last for the long haul. They look to boost their registration numbers as much as possible in order to sell their “community,” so they sometimes resort to giveaways which provide a distorted picture of real success.

    Not even unsuccessful TLDs will shut down; ICANN mandated that each successful application include a party committed to take over if the original applicant fails. Already successful registries are eager to take over the TLD even if its registrations are few once the price is low enough. It offers easy registration and renewal revenue plus a marketing opportunity without adding staff or infrastructure. Registrants need not worry much.

    A wave of consolidation is widely anticipated once investors have a chance to see which registries succeed and some realistic benchmark for market value evolves. These consolidated operators will provide investment vehicles large enough to satisfy Wall Street, which has no use for the small operators.

    So Where Does Real Long-term Value for the Brand Holder Lie?

    Real long-term value exists in TLDs that are registered and used by consumers, not just domain speculators, cybersquatters, and brand holders fighting the first two. Some TLDs with high numbers of registrations have very few registrants who actually want to use a domain (remember .XXX?). But search engines are not fooled; they are adept at tracking real users and TLDs without them will get low rankings. Some TLDs will develop over time and some will taper off. It’s too soon to be sure what success means, but not too soon to talk about what we are looking for.

    Ranking by the Numbers

    The number of new gTLDs registered now stands at 2.2 million. Despite the new gTLD operators complaining about their numbers, the trend is steadily upward.

    .XYZ is now in first position with over 500,000 domains registered to date, followed by .BERLIN with 139,000, and .CLUB with 105,000.

    pie chart of top ntlds 091514

    [Source: ntldstats.com]

    But simple total registration numbers can be misleading, because they partly reflect how long the TLD has been operating. And not all registrations are the same. For example:
    • Network Solutions gave away about 377,000 free .XYZ domains to registrants unless they opted out (Source: TheDomains.com). How many will renew? But even without those it would be in the lead. Viewed as a social media “play,” what matters is whether having “.XYZ” at the end of your domain name will sound hip or ridiculous in two years’ time. We’re in no position to say. Before you judge, consider that a single Japanese registrar accounts for 55,000 .XYZ registrations, a single Chinese registrar for 26,500. Can you predict this TLD’s appeal in those countries? Given that .XYZ has already defied expectations (not to mention condescending predictions of immediate and embarrassing failure) we’ve begun to advise clients to register in it, if only for defensive purposes at this point.
    .BERLIN gave away domains too, but it’s very likely that .BERLIN will be a hit nonetheless. We maintain that major city TLDs are among the best bets in the new gTLD space because they build on longstanding communities. How many nation states have come and gone while Berlin and Berliners remained?
    .CLUB is in third place and it seems to be a good fit for the social network business model, offering online hubs for small but committed communities. It’s noteworthy that .CLUB has now surpassed the .XXX extension which had an almost three-year headstart.

    A new gTLD’s prospect for success is shaped by who operates the registry, by which we really mean Google, Amazon, and Microsoft. Never mind where their registration totals stand. Who doubts that these brands will bestow instant credibility on their TLDs in consumers’ eyes? Above all, Google will lead in adoption because it’s going into retail domain sales with Google Domains (sorry, GoDaddy) and its customers will be prompted to try a Google gTLD. Brand holders would be prudent to track which TLDs are assigned to the Big Three as the ICANN process unfolds, so we’ll highlight this in future NgTLD Updates.

    What should you do next?

    Corsearch advises you to watch your inbox for our regular announcements of new gTLD news. We’ll do our best to keep current on approaching launches with the context you need to help you tell the wheat from the chaff. ICANN is expected to announce its schedule next year for the “second round” which it won’t launch until it has evaluated the first. Keep an eye on the rollout of .BRAND TLDs, to see whether you should consider one in the second round. In the meantime, leverage the TMCH to best navigate the new gTLD Gold Rush. Note that the first TMCH renewals are already coming due; if it’s worth registering your mark in the TMCH at all it’ll be worth keeping it there for the second round, so consider a multi-year registration.

    Stay tuned for information about our upcoming webinar, “The nTLD Survival Guide”, coming soon.