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ICANN Approves more Top Level Domains : Huge Opportunity for Trademark Promotion

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, in a decisive vote yesterday said in a press conference in Singapore that it will now be accepting a wide range of new TLD ( Top Levels Domains ). TLD are the extensions that we see after the name of any site, currently there are 22 such gTLD names available, for example .com .org and around 250 country level domain names like .in, .us, .cn etc.

The new program called Generic Top Level Domains (gTLD) will allow companies to take more control over their brand on the Internet and essentially dilute the effect that domain name squatters have on brand value. For example you may be a restaurant owner looking to capitalize on your brand name and limit yourself to a city, you can get yourrestaurant.city, that is if you can pay the price for owning the Domain name. But it doesn’t end there, these domain names will be available in new language too and these include Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Devnagri!

This move by ICANN will change the way we see internet domain names today. The introduction of such new names will be a mixed bag. While large companies will benefit from this by taking more control of their trademark and intellectual property rights, they will also have a hard time keeping track of new kinds of cyber squatters. For example somebody may register a volvo.india, an obvious infringement of intellectual property.

While this is a positive move, getting approval for the Domain names will not be easy. To get the rights to a registry, the internet domain names governing body has set the application fee at  $185,000, it costs $25,000 a year to operate the registry, and other fees are possible, too. Not only that, a business will have to prove legitimacy before it is granted the rights to that Domain name. If a registrar cooperates with a “bad-actor”, the consequences would be dire and may extend upto ICANN cancelling the contract with the registrar. This means if somebody own the extension .india and grants the domain name google.india to  anyone without a legitimate claim to google then they registrar that operates .india may be fined as ICANN feel is appropriate.

ICANN will accept applications for registries from the 12th of Jan 2012 and we may see the first gTLDs approved by the end of 2012. We think this move will provide small businesses a chance to showcase their trademark on the internet and give them that little bit extra that they need to be noticed. What is your take?

Is it a good move or will domain name squatters have another field day? Let us know.

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