New gTLDs: Developments in Domain Name Law

23 02 2009

ICANN, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has just released the its Draft Applicant Guide Book for applicants wishing to register a new gTLD (top level domain). This brings us one step closer to the reality of new top level domains.

ICANN states that one of its “foundational principles has been to promote competition in the domain-name marketplace while ensuring Internet security and stability.” . With the soon to open gTLD application rounds it is hoped that applicants will apply for new gTLDs, and promote competition in the marketplace for existing gTLDs.

The possibilities appear to be endless, for example some suggestions have come from corporate organisations – for example Coca Cola could apply for the .coke gTLD or Pepsi could apply for the .pepsi gTLD. With a price tag of approximately $200,000, it is not likely that anyone other than corporates or cashed up entrepaneurs will be in a position to launch a gTLD – but it will only be a matter of time before a profitable business model will be developed giving new gTLDs broader accessibility.

As a consequence, ICANN claims that the “expansion will allow for more innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s addressing system, now constrained by only 21 generic top-level domain names. In a world with 1.5 billion Internet users—and growing—diversity, choice and competition are key to the continued success and reach of the global network.

This is a positive, allowing for more flexibility and competition – but opponents argue that it will diminish the value of existing gTLDs, which are now a very limited commodity in light of the fact that almost all the good generic names have been registered in the existing gTLD space.

Only time will tell…..

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