Dot Gone

The World Wide Web has revolutionised the way people live in both their personal and professional lives, with every conceivable topic available at the click of a button. Internet users can access a wide variety of websites by typing in domain names which end with a small number of suffixes such as .com, .net and .org. This is all set to change with the release of new generic top level domains (gTLDs) meaning that businesses and individuals can apply for their own personalised suffix to their internet address.

The International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) controls the Internet domain name system and has welcomed applications from organisations wishing to own new gTLDs. This means that applications can be made to register a domain name which includes any “string” (a word or a combination of letters and numbers) to the right of the dot in a web address. This will allow suffixes to Internet addresses made up of corporate brand names or other relevant words.

ICANN has published a list of the applications received for new domain names, which include .apple, .kindle and .microsoft. The most popular request is for .app, for which 13 applications have been made. Where there are multiple applications for a single name, ICANN will place the gTLD up for auction.

The domain names must have at least three characters and can be in non-Roman alphabets, such as Mandarin and Japanese.

There is an initial fee of $185,000 for the application for ownership (regardless of whether the domain name is successfully obtained) together with ongoing costs to administer the gTLD.

Not surprisingly, many of the large international brands consider the cost worthwhile and some have even made multiple applications (for example, Amazon have applied for .kindle, .book and .amazon to name but a few of their 76 applications). Although, Apple have stuck to just one application for .apple.

The evaluation panel will consider any comments on the applications made by 12 August 2012. Formal objections must be raised prior to 13 January 2013 (for which a fee is payable).

The list of applicants can be found at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results/strings-1200utc-13jun12-en. Businesses should check the list carefully and consider whether any of the applications may infringe upon their intellectual property rights. Where that is the case, it may be necessary to lodge a formal objection, perhaps on the grounds that the gTLD is confusingly similar to an existing one or has breached copyright.

We at Blacks can assist with all aspects of registration and protection of your intellectual property rights to include issues arising out of gTLDs.

Luke Patel
Tel: 0113 2279316
LPatel@LawBlacks.com

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