CATEGORY: New Domains

String Similarity and the New gTLDs – Does ICANN Have Too Many Similar Extensions in the Running?

One of the most pressing concerns with nTLDs is whether or not the launch of so many in such a relatively short amount of time will complicate the functionality of the Internet for everyday users. Wrapped up in this worry, is the focus on string similarity, or how close a proposed nTLD can be in meaning, sound, or visual representation to another, or to an existing gTLD.

There are rules in the ICANN guidebook concerning how similar strings can be, and they seem to spell-out that strings should definitely not be close in visual representation, while giving more leeway to how close two strings can be in meaning and sound. As experts watch the process, and the upcoming Initial Evaluation results, which will indicate string similarity issues, some believe that there’s a lot of flexibility, while others believe there’s not.

ICANN defines the purpose of their String Similarity Panel as such:

“The String Similarity Panel will review the entire pool of applied-for strings to determine whether the strings proposed in any two or more applications are so similar that they would create a probability of user confusion if allowed to coexist in the DNS.” (4-3)

The guidebook further explains that the String Similarity Panel will look for the flowing issues:

  • Whether or not a proposed string is too visually similar to another string, either already in existence or proposed.
  • Whether or not a proposed string is too similar, by proxy. For example, if A string is too similar to B string, and B string is too similar to C string, then A string will need to be accessed as well, even if it’s not similar to C string on its own.
  • Whether or not the launch of a certain nTLD will cause user confusion.nTLDs domain names

In a letter written in November, but only recently posted to ICANN’s site last week, Jeffrey Smith, the CEO of Commercial Connect, LLC, let ICANN know that their guidelines are both hard to parse-out for interpretation and may mean that only 56 proposed nTLDs are actually unique, if the guidelines are taken strictly.

Smith, in conjunction with Commercial Connect, is applying for the rights to .shop, a follow-up to an application Commercial Connect submitted in 2000, when they were asked to submit again, as a part of the larger nTLD push. Smith states that his letter is written as a community member more than an applicant, and he points out that if all 1,917 applications are considered in accordance with the string similarity guidelines put forth by ICANN, then not just visually similar strings should be knocked-out of the running, but also similarly sounding and meaning strings, too:

“There has been an understanding that no new gTLD would be released that had similar meaning, sound, or appearance to any existing TLD. This has roots in protecting the end user from being confused about which TLD should be used and lends credibility to the intent of the process. The premise of keeping the internet a safe, secure and user friendly environment for all stakeholders supports this rule.”

To illustrate what Smith is talking about, here are just a few examples of current applied-for nTLDs that could be considered too similar to launch, depending on how strictly you interpret the guidelines:

  • .auto, .car, .autos, .cars
  • .loans, .loan; .market, .markets; .work, .works
  • .buy, .shop, .shopping
  • .lawyer, .esq, .law

There are many examples like these – where words are similar visually, many times just the difference between singular and plural form, or that words are too similar in meaning, such as with “buy” and “shop.” Smith argues that IDNs should also be considered in the same mix as other nTLDs – since both will be existing together as options to one another.

Yet, some argue that Smith’s representation is too oversimplified. If an applicant applies for .auto, and wishes to use it as a closed registry, in conjunction with their business, than a .car would suffice to establish an open-market nTLD in place of the word “auto.” Some argue that having “car” and “auto” in any capacity would be confusing; others argue that Internet users are flexible and capable of discerning the uses of both nTLDs.

With so many applications in the works, it’ll be interesting to see how ICANN broaches the subject, and whether or not we’ll see the number of possible nTLDs lower as launch dates get nearer.

Where do you stand on string contention? The more the merrier, or too many cooks in the kitchen? Use any outdated and corny colloquialism you want – we won’t judge you. We just want to get your take.

If you have your eye on the application process, check out our nTLD watcher. Plugin the nTLD you want to track, and we’ll send you updates as they make their way through evaluation. Or keep checking back here, to our blog, for updated information.

Most Users Don’t Know What New gTLDs Are — Do You?

At the beginning of December, a company named FairWinds released a white paper report, the results of which indicated that 74% of the Internet users they surveyed have no clue what new gTLDs (nTLDs) are, didn’t know they’ll be released in the near future, and thought the application process was incredibly confusing. The results aren’t much of a surprise to us — we’re in the business of domains, so we know while there’s a lot of information to keep up with, there’s not a lot of media frenzy outside of tech mags.

kim kardashian better known than ntlds

Mainstream media hasn’t focused a lot on ICANN’s process, many social media organizations aren’t even invested in nTLDs, and the big companies who are invested, like Amazon, Google, and Yahoo! aren’t talking publicly about why they’re interested, or what the nTLDs will mean for e-commerce, search engine results, or the way we surf the Internet. Because there’s not enough mainstream exposure, most people know more about Kim Kardashian’s Christmas than they do about nTLDs (unwillingly, of course).

Maybe you just found out about the nTLDs (new generic top-level domains), or you’ve never heard of them, and you’re wondering why you should care and what the change will mean to you. (If you’ve never heard of nTLDs, start here.) There are still a lot of quandaries we don’t know the answer to – which nTLDs will get approved, when exactly they’ll go live (they’ll start in 2013, and you can view the release order on ICANN’s site), how much they’ll cost, or how they’ll affect SEO. But we do know that nTLDs will change the Internet as we know it, and if you aren’t paying attention now, you will be when the first nTLDs start going releasing.

Don’t wait until the releases to start learning about nTLDs. We think there are benefits to starting your education early, including:

  • Being brand aware. If you own a company, then you should know if someone is trying to register a nTLD that either defines your market niche, or uses a generic term you use in your brand name. You should be aware of the Trademark Clearinghouse, and be ready to object to gTLD string that may infringe on your trademark rights. You can view all proposed nTLDs and who the applicants are on ICANN’s website.
  • Planning the future of your website. Maybe you’d like a chance to get into the nTLD world. If you own a brewery, for instance, you might be interested in a .BEER extension. Knowing about who will administer the nTLD, when it will be approved, and preregistering possible domain strings, either to serve as your webpage or as an extension to your web page, will prove valuable to anyone looking to get a piece of their niche nTLD.
  • Got a problem with an nTLD? You can object now. Right now, if you object to a proposed nTLD, or the possible use of it, you have a chance to file a public objection with ICANN. After the objection period closes, it will be a lot harder to have any say in a gTLD that might affect you. All the information about who’s applying to administrate the gTLD, when they’ll launch, and the Early Warnings issued to applicants is available on the ICANN website until Mar. 13. You can add to any current objections, or rest assured that the nTLD you’ve got your eye on is going through the application process smoothly.
  • Start thinking about SEO. There’s nothing concrete yet about how new nTLDs will affect SEO, so you can’t start planning, but you can start researching. Adding a “gTLD” feed to your Google News feed, or taking time every couple of weeks to search “SEO and new gTLDs,” can help you stay abreast of the changes. nTLDs are already used in SEO, so knowing whether or not an extension with a market keyword may help traffic or will be virtually useless can help you plan for the future and decide whether you can afford to watch the market, or you need to get into the landrush.

Whether you’re invested now in keeping an eye on the nTLD application process may mean the difference between confusion or comfort when nTLDs hit the mainstream media and start going active. There’s no question that nTLDs are coming, or that they’ll be big news, so knowing the terminology, the gTLDs you might be interested in, how to protect your brand, and basic information about how the process works can save you feeling lost or uninformed next year, when the first new nTLDs release.

For more information, check out our nTLD news and information, here on our blog. You can click on “nTLDs” section, in the blog site map in the right hand margin for nTLD specific news. We also have an nTLD watchlist you can subscribe to, which will tell you up-to-date information about the specific gTLDs you’re interested in.

As New gTLDs Launch, is Your Brand Protected?

One of the most talked about developments in nTLDland (yes, nTLDland is an actual, mystical place where everything has a dot right in front of it), is how to best protect your brand as the nTLDs (new gTLDs) launch. With almost 2,000 nTLD applications making their way through the final stages of the process, you may have to rethink the practices you use to keep your brand secure on the Web. The million dollar question seems to be (pun intended): How can you keep your brand safe without bleeding money in the process?

The Strawman Solution

If you’ve been following ICANN lately, then you know the Internet community is engaged in a two-sided conversation concerning just that. The “Strawman ntld brand protectionSolution,” tentative policy enforcements proposed by ICANN to add protective measures to the policies already in place — such as more time in the sunrise periods and more time required for registrars to use the Trademark Clearinghouse — is garnering attention from those concerned with the protection of intellectual property.

Comments on ICANN’s website, about the Strawman Solution, center on two main arguments: That the Trademark Clearinghouse, sunrise periods, Uniform Rapid Suspension System, and Uniform Domain Dispute Policy ought to be enough to protect brands and trademarks, if the Internet public takes enough time to utilize each. And, on the other side of the argument, the concern that these measures alone are not enough to protect brands and the proposed enforcements should proceed. The conversation has attracted comments from big name corporations, registrars, and applicants alike.

Both sides are concerned with time and money. Those looking to implement the Strawman Solution are concerned that time and money will be wasted by trademark owners trying to defend their brands, and so are looking for more protective measures, up front. Those who wish to proceed without the Strawman Solution worry that adding more burden to the front end of an nTLD launch will make the already heftily expensive application process more costly, and add even more time until nTLD domains are available for public registration.

Your Options

Brand protection isn’t a new concern, but the launch of nTLDs has a lot of industry experts rethinking the way you can protect your intellectual property. While defensive registration is important, unilateral defensive registration isn’t an option for everyone. To register your brand in every nTLD (1,917) would be costly,to say the least. While defensive domain registration is still an important step in securing your place on the Web, there are other ways you can remain protected without having to register your trademark in every nTLD. Here’s a break-down of your options as nTLDs launch:

1. Know the ICANN nTLD Guidebook. Taking some time to read over parts of the ICANN nTLD guidebook, concerning the Trademark Clearinghouse, sunrise periods, string contention, and the Uniform Rapid Suspension System and Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy can go a long way in helping you make informed choices concerning the protection of your brand. There are a lot of systems in place, as explained in the guidebook, that you can use to your advantage if you feel your brand has been infringed upon, or to protect your brand from possible infringement.

2. Register your brand and domain strings in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). When the Trademark Clearinghouse launches this spring, you have the opportunity to register your trademarks for $150 each. Registering your trademark helps to prevent others from infringing on your brand rights because your brand will become a part of the TMCH database. Anyone who tries to register an nTLD with a string that’s too close to your trademark will be notified.

3. Take advantage of the sunrise period. During the sunrise period of each nTLD, which is the first 30 days after it launches, you’ll have the chance to register your own domain strings to protect your brand. Because almost 2,000 nTLDs are going to launch in the coming year, many experts agree that protectively registering domain strings in each nTLD will be too expensive for many, but to register the nTLDs that closely relate to your market sector is a good way to both secure your trademark and own a spot in the nTLD world.

 4. If needed, utilize the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) and the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy (UDRP). If another entity registers a domain string that infringes on your copyright, or brand, then you could utilize the Uniform Rapid Suspension System. The URS is meant to provide a cost-effective ($300-$500 an arbitration) and timely way to freeze domains that threaten other brands. Once a complaint is filed with the URS, the registrar must suspend the domain and alert the owner. The owner then has 14 days to respond. If the owner does not respond, or cannot defend their use of the domain, the domain is put into the URS indefinitely.

The Uniform Domain Name Dispute Policy is a policy already in place that provides guidelines for domain disputes. UDRP outlines a procedure that you may follow to alert a registrar to possible copyright infringement and begin working to take a hostile domain down. The guide-lined process moves slower than the URS, which is why the URS has been implemented for the release of nTLDs in the first place. ICANN hopes both the policy and the system will work in conjunction to help brand owners secure their property.

Weigh in. What do you think?

So, now that you know your options, do you feel secure? Do you think the Strawman Solution adds to your protection, or adds cost and time to a process that’s already dragged-out months longer than ICANN expected? We want to hear your take on brand protection, what you plan to do as nTLDs launch, and whether or not you think these measures are enough, or too much.

A Look at Some of the Most Controversial nTLDs

If you’ve been following the nTLD application process, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of the controversies surrounding some of the applications. Since mad dramz are the order of the day, here’s a look at five of the most talked about nTLD controversies of 2012, and what the future looks like for the applicants and nTLDs involved.

.AFRICA

Initially the African Union Commission backed UniForum, a South African non-profit company, to be the sole applicant of .AFRICA, but when the nTLDs controversy DotConnectAfrica Trust had to change their application from .DOTAFRICA, to .AFRICA, so as not to be applying for a similar gTLD to .AFRICA, the two non-profits started a controversy over who should have the registry rights of the nTLD.

Those who back DotConnectAfrica Trust say they don’t want the AUC to have any control in the reservation and registration of .AFRICA – that the nTLD should be free to all. Those who back the AUC, and thereby Uniforum, site that the AUC represents a number of countries in Africa, and is therefore the better choice for a .AFRICA registry because of it’s diverse range of input. Multiple Early Warnings have been issued to DotConnectAfrica Trust, stating that AUC-backed UniForum is the preferred applicant.

.ISLAM

There have been controversies surrounding the .ISLAM gTLD that stem both from those who oppose the belief of Islam, and those who feel excluded from the gTLD, based on the applicant. For those who oppose .ISLAM based solely on personal viewpoints of Islam itself, the objection process won’t yield many results – ICANN is interested in making sure all cultures, religions and countries have an equal chance at representative community nTLDs. For those who are opposed to the use of the gTLD by a specific applicant – for instance the Early Warning issued by Muslims in India who oppose Asia Green IT System’s application because they feel left out of a nTLD that defines them personally – the chance of having an objection heeded to is more realistic.

.GAY, .LGBT

Like .ISLAM, .GAY and .LGBT are facing more personal opinion objections rather than objections relating to the proposed administrative practices. Objections against .GAY and .LGBT center on individual or country objections to homosexuality, and not necessarily to the use of the nTLDs, or the ability of the organizations applying for community administration rights to do their job well. So far, applicants for both domains have not had to change their application to face these types of objections, and have not been issued Early Warnings.

.ADULT, .SEX, .HOT, .PORN

Many have objected to the use of these possible nTLDs because of the industry they’re set to represent – the adult entertainment industry. And while those objecting cite protective reasons – such as protecting children, or combating the negative image some associate with adult entertainment – those in support of the nTLDs have stated that having an identifying marker, like a specific gTLD related to the industry helps separate the adult content from the rest of the Internet, and makes it easily identifiable to parents, or those who may be offended by the content of these sites. So far, aside from public objections, these nTLDs are moving through the application process without serious hindrances.

.WTF

Australia issued an Early Warning to the applicants of .WTF, citing that the nTLD might foster a negative Internet interaction, and allow a space for people to ntldscongregate to proliferate the apathetic or malevolent feelings usually associated with this slang acronym. But, others argue that morality policing cannot occur in the nTLD process, because it opens the door to boxing out any applicant because of the personal opinions of another. For those who agree with .WTF being allowed to proceed though the nTLD process, the importance of maintaining a system that does not judge morality according to cultural specifics is more important than the possible uses of .WTF.

Take a closer look at the Early Warnings, here on ICANN’s website. As the nTLDs make their way through the application process, we’ll be able to see which objections are going to cause a problem, and which are going to be all but ignored. Keep an informed eye on these nTLDs as they make their way through the application process by signing up for our watch list, or for subscribing to our blog.

ICANN’s Priority Release Draw, and What’s Next For nTLDs in 2013

On December 17, 2012, ICANN published its priority release list – the result of a prioritization lottery draw determining the order of nTLD (new gTLD) releases in the upcoming year. According to ICANN,  1,766 lottery tickets were purchased for the draw, out of 1,917 possible tickets – meaning 92% of nTLD applications had a purchased ticket for the prioritization draw (check out the results, here).

But, how important is the drawing? The priority number helps the ICANN gTLD team complete work according to a specific order, but despite popular opinion, the position of an application does not necessarily indicate the order of launch – each entity will have to make it through an initial evaluation and pre-delegation phase, to make sure they are ready to go live. The progress of a gTLD is not just determined by the draw position, but also how ready the registry is to launch their nTLD in the coming year.

So what’s next for the nTLD process? Here’s a short timeline of upcoming events, and what to look out for as the year progresses and nTLDs start to launch.

Early January, 2013 – Releasing clarifying questions for applications, based on priority numbers

In November 2012, ICANN released formal “Early Warnings” from the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) to nTLD applicants. The objections cited reasons for the warning, and ways in which applicants could alter their applications for a better chance of being approved. ICANN will also publish more clarifying questions for each applicant, starting with the first applicants on the priority draw and working down the list, to allow each applicant a better opportunity to respond to any possible hang-ups.

January, 2013 – Publishing contention sets, based on priority number

At the end of Janurary, ICANN will publish contention sets – or which nTLD strings have the capability of clashing or contending with other gTLD strings. The list will allow applicants the chance to modify what they need to in order to progress through the initial approval.

March 13, 2013 – The last day to file an objection

Anyone who has a standing objection to one of the nTLD strings pushing through the application process still has time to formally object to ICANN. The objection period was initially set to expire, but the objection date has been pushed back to March 13, to allow all parties the chance to identify possible problems with nTLD launches.

March 23, 2013 – Publication of initial evaluation results for the first several applications

By March 23, most applicants who are at the beginning of the priority release list will know the results of their initial evaluations – and either have the green light to go ahead with the process, or know what they need to do to reshape their application. This initial results publication is one of the dates most looked to in the nTLD process.

The big question, and one ICANN isn’t answering (yet), is when nTLDs will start to launch. Because there are so many steps to go through before an application is approved, and more steps to complete before a nTLD can go live, we don’t know when we’ll start seeing the first nTLDs starting to launch, although many believe we’ll see at least some nTLDs by the summer. To keep a watch on the process, sign up for our watcher, or subscribe to our blog.

The gTLD Land Grab Controversy: Google, Amazon, and the GAC Part II

Here is Part I of Tiffany’s series on the gTLD Land Grab Controversy.

Just one of the reasons Amazon and Google are garnering so much attention as new gTLDs (nTLDs) make their way through ICANN’s application process is the sheer number of their applications (read about the other reason, here). Google applied for the administration rights to 98 different nTLDs (after withdrawing three applications), while Amazon applied for the rights to 77 nTLDs. Early Warnings were issued late last month by the GAC, and some issued by Australia to Amazon, touch on the controversy surrounding the notable “land grab” that both Google and Amazon are participating in.

What is a ‘Land Grab’?

“Land grabbing” used to refer to a large-scale acquisition of land by a single entity. That definition doesn’t change, when referring to gTLDs, except that the land is the new gtlds land grab controversyvirtual. Many argue that nTLDs represent “new frontier” in Internet real estate. And while no one really knows what effect nTLDs will have on how users interface with the Web, many who keep watch on the application process seem concerned that Google and Amazon are applying for such a large amount of nTLDs, citing the common repercussions of a land grab – pricing smaller organizations, communities, and entities out of the market, thereby creating a monopoly.

Who’s Objecting?

Australia may be the only country to issue a GAC Early Warning concerning Amazon’s land grab, but bloggers and tech magazines have been discussing the implications of Amazon and Google obtaining so much nTLD land since the applications were filed. For anyone connected to the online world of writing, music, apps, cloud storage, or any other market represented by the gTLDs Amazon and Google are applying for, the amount of applications coupled with restrictions to third party access may affect the way you’re able to connect with nTLDs as a register.

Most contention centers on the fact that both Amazon and Google plan to use many nTLDs exclusively, without allowing third party registrars to open independent registrations, or without allowing single entities to register domains and obtain full ownership, boxing competitors and other potential registers out of their gTLD space.

What’s the Solution?

Right now, the solution is fuzzy. While the GAC has issued their Early Warnings  and heeding the Early Warnings is strongly recommended, Amazon and Google don’t have to comply with all GAC warnings, since the GAC will not be making the final calls on applications – ICANN will. Amazon and Google can also change their exclusivity policies to make them more transparent, and to allow third party purchases of their gTLD domains. Keeping the market open on their end may help squelch the land grab controversy, since others will be able to register common term gTLDs for their own use.

And, not everyone agrees that Amazon’s and Google’s move to purchase administration rights to dozens of nTLDs is in the wrong – some believe that gTLDs are an open market, and therefore the power of purchase dictates who gets administration rights. Twitter and Facebook chose not to apply for any gTLDs, while other large corporations, like Yahoo! only applied for gTLDs related to their brands and trademarks. It may be too early to tell if Google and Amazon actually pose a risk to healthy nTLD development, and the inconsistency of how big corporations are interacting with nTLDs complicates putting forth an accurate prediction.

What’s Your Take?

What do you think of Google and Amazon applying for the rights to so many nTLDs? Is this a move that might affect the industry you’re a part of, or do you feel comfortable getting your piece of the pie, even if Google and Amazon are successful in their bids for multiple nTLDs? Let us know in the “comments” section below.

For more information on nTLDs, check out our handy dandy nTLD guide. To read more about Amazon and Google, and the controversy surrounding their applications for “generic term gTLDs,” click here.

The Internet is Not Going to Break and 4 Other gTLD Myths Refuted

The internet’s abuzz with hype and gossip about the future of top-level domains and we’re here to help. Whether you’re worried about trademark infringement, administrative rights, search engine recognition, squatters or getting a gTLD of your own, don’t let the hype get you down. Here’s 5 gTLD myths debunked

1. A registrar has unlimited control over the release of their gTLDs.

Many people in the ever-watching internet community believe that businesses or organizations that get the rights to administer nTLDs will have the control to keep all of the extensions for their own use. But, it wouldn’t be that simple. To get that exemption, because the ICANN guidebook explicitly states that an administrator can’t keep all extensions without due cause, the GAC (Government Advisory Committee) and ICANN would have to rule that the exclusivity wouldn’t harm another organization or community. So if authors everywhere feel being excluded from .author would hurt their community, they could raise objections. Even though companies will have certain rights as administrators, including how exclusive or inclusive their registration process will be, the guideline have to be approved by ICANN first to make sure they are fair and encourage competition.

2. Squatters will prosper with nTLDs.

A lot of people think that the addition of nTLDs will increase the amount of cyber-squatting, but one of the reasons ICANN decided to expand gTLDs in the first New gTLDs mythsplace was to help eliminate squatting. More options (hundreds, in some cases) for domain names mean that the chances of your name being unavailable, or costing tens of thousands of dollars to purchase, is low. Some also worry that squatters could become administrators themselves, but ICANN has taken advanced measures to make sure that doesn’t happen, including looking into whether or not the organization or person applying for administration rights has a history of internet squatting, making the application detailed and the process intensive, and keeping the cost of application high.

3. gTLDs are a big business game.

Many small business owners express feeling as though nTLDs are out-of-reach, because of the cost to apply ($185,000 an application, plus $25,000 in annual costs). That’s a lot of money, because it costs a lot of money to run a domain, and register extensions to purchasers. But the sticker price on administrative rights doesn’t translate to the bottom-level, where most small organizations and businesses purchase their gTLDs. Administering .pet may be expensive, but buying a .pet domain extension for your business probably won’t be.

4. Trademark protection will be harder to enforce.

Trademark infringement have been a worry for internet users since day one, but the nTLDs have brought many of those concerns back to the forefront. ICANN operates within U.S. regulations, and reviews all applications with objections and GAC recommendations. Still concerns around how brand protection, global trademarks and restricted use abound. To counter these concerns,  ICANN, registries, registrars and the intellectual property community are working on setting up a Trademark Clearing House (TMCH) to add an extra layer of protection for trademark holders. All of the nTLDs will be subject to the TMCH, which is currently undergoing extensive development and review before implementation. The point is, the community is doing everything possible to make sure that the nTLDs won’t make it easier to infringe trademark protection because the oversight and regulation will be tighter.

5. nTLDs are going to make the internet difficult to navigate.

One of the greatest concerns out there is that nTLDs are going to mess up the web by adding confusion. Some think that nTLDs will lose traffic to more traditional domains. If you own example.music won’t you lose traffic to example.com, because the internet public won’t be used to nTLDs and just type in “example.com”? Won’t the internet be harder to navigate with all these new domains? Rest assured that nothing will fundamentally change about the way we use the net, because nothing will change about how the net fundamentally operates — it’s just going to get bigger. The consumer base will adjust, as they have in the past (this is not the first time gTLDs have been added for public use), and while search engines haven’t stated explicitly how they’ll deal with nTLDs, most experts believe that the new extensions should help search engine recognition, by adding more keywords right into the domain name.

Hopefully we’ve helped squash some fears about the new gTLDs. Follow your favorite nTLD using our watcher and keep an eye on our blog to see how the application process pans out.

Sunrise, Landrush for the New TLDs

Hello!

I’m Scott McBreen, Domains Operations Manager at Name.com. With all the excitement regarding the New Top Level Domains (nTLDs) there are many people wondering how the new domains will be made available.  Others may be curious if it is worth the money to register an nTLD for use as a personal/professional website, or even for investment purposes.  Follow along below for responses to both those questions.

Registry operators, those that manage databases for Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .com, utilize multiple strategies when making domains available to the new TLDs domain name operation managerpublic. Some registries will restrict who can register domains under their TLD, while others will make domains available to general public. Registries that open their TLD to the general public will typically make domain names available in stages when they are first released. These stages typically fall into the three categories: sunrise, land rush, and general availability.

The sunrise period allows applicants to apply for domains through accredited registrars, such as Name.com, if the domains meet certain criteria.  Sunrise applications typically require a registered trademark on the string for which the applicant applies. In the caseof the nTLD, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will offer a Trademark Clearinghouse, which will allow trademark holders to protect their trademark. Registries may also offer an additional sunrise period which allows owners of strings under an alternate TLD to apply for the same string in the nTLD they manage. For example, if your accounting firm owns SmithandMcBreen.com you may be eligible for SmithandMcBreen.cpa during the sunrise period.

Sunrise period registrations typically cost more than general availability registrations. However, the sunrise period is the ideal time to secure a valuable domain.The sunrise periods is followed by the landrush period. This is the period during which domain names become available without trademark or alternate TLD restriction.  Name.com will offer pre-orders for the landrush period.  If you have placed a pre-order with Name.com, we will attempt to register your domain the moment the land rush begins. Name.com has had tremendous success capturing pre-ordered domains during both the .Tel and .XXX landrush periods, making many great domains available to our customers.

After the landrush period the nTLDs will enter the general availability period. This is the period when domains do not have any additional restrictions, and the registry charges their standard rate to registrars such as Name.com. Some registries will hold onto what they consider to be premium domain names, and will auction them off to the highest bidder.  This can result in names being sold for huge sums of money.  According to Sedo Holding AG. who managed auctions for the .mobi registry, domains such as hosting.mobi sold for $101,000 and taxi.mobi sold for $75,111 at auction. Other registries will accept petitions for use of their premium domain names from parties that agree to develop the domains into active websites.  This can help build an nTLD’s brand, and result in excellent websites.

If you have made it this far, I am sure some of you are asking the big question “Is it worth it?”  Not unlike higher education or a chicken burrito, the answer depends on what you put into it.  However, I think we can agree that domains such as cupcakes.nyc and fishing.miami are far more brandable than many of the currently available .com alternatives.

As far as the investment worth of the nTLDs, it can be difficult to speculate. However, NameBio.com reports sales of .Org domains such as autoinsurance.org for $440,000, engineering.org for $198,000, and revolution.org for $120,000.  One would imagine the individuals that registered these domains found them to be a sound investments.

We look forward to helping you with similar opportunities with the new TLDs and, as always, bringing you the same legendary customer support that comes with all our domains.

American as Apple Pie: .US Domain Names (for a bigger piece of the pie)

We’re not going to lie to you. America rocks. There’s no better way to let your customers and website visitors know your pro.

There’s no better way to communicate to visitors that you’re proudly made in the USA than with a .US domain extension, and right now your .US domain names are only $3.99! Now it’s more affordable than ever to be part of the growing “buy local” movement. As in both the United States and abroad, an established American presence online will help  instill consumer confidence in your brand.

Benefits of .US domain names:

  • Appeal to Americans and compete successfully globally
  • Use our Domain Search tool for .US domains
  • Protect your trademark – If you’ve got the .com get the .US before someone else does
  • SEO – Google can rank your site higher for .US searches
  • World’s most ethnically diverse and multicultural country

Restrictions on .US domain registrations

  • Any United States citizen or resident
  • Any United States entity, such as organizations or corporations
  • Any foreign entity or organization with a bona fide presence in the US

 

Start your .US search

New Dots Going In New Directions

Looking through the list of new gTLDs (nTLDs), there are many that have very practical uses for a lot of people. A .bank domain makes a lot of sense from the bank and the customer’s perspective to ensure security and market effectively. Being environmentally friendly is popular, important and covered by .eco or .green. No matter what your profession or interest, chances are that there is a nTLD for you. It easy to see why most of the nTLDs were applied for.

On top of the nTLDs you would probably expect, there are a few you might be surprised to learn about. These nTLDs boldly defy common convention and in some cases even reality. As a company that values breaking the mold, we love these nTLDs are excited to offer them. Here are a look at some of our office favorites and what we hope they will be used for.

.Unicorn

As a mythical beast that represents pure badassery, the unicorn is as close as anything to an official name.com mascot. Anyone who has not tried the konami code on our website should definitely check it out. Although the last reliable unicorn sighting hasn’t been for several years (my brother’s wife’s cousin’s friend swears…) unicorns remain as captivating as ever.

What we are imaging

The .unicorn nTLD will allow people to finally own this mythical best. Flying.unicorn, fast.unicorn, purple.unicorn – pick your favorite! No matter what kind of unicorn you want, the .unicorn space will make your dream a reality.

What’s closer to the truth

.Unicorn is being applied for a European technology company so that they can more easily communicate with their customers. It appears that while they offer a wide range of technology services, they do not sell legendary animals.

.Ninja

Stealthy warriors who live in the shadows, the ninja is never there and always there. Even the non teenage-mutant kinds are still pretty awesome.

What we are imaging

Upon purchase of a .Ninja domain, you do in fact become a ninja. Skilled in martial arts and deception, owning a .ninja domain allows you to fight for truth, justice and honor from the shadows. Also throwing stars. Lots of throwing stars.

What’s closer to the truth

Our Sys Admin has been signing all of his emails “Sr. System Administrator (IT Ninja)” since long before this nTLD came around. Used as a synonym for “expert” in the tech industry, .ninja has a lot of great potential for online experts looking to standout in the crowd. Also owning a katana may be slightly more justified.

.Viking

There is a heavy office debate over who would win a fight between a viking or ninja. It’s hard to discount the whole life of fighting and plundering thing even against throwing stars.

What we are imaging

The viking nTLD will finally create a space for vikings on the go to connect with each other.  After a long row or difficult raid, find the maiden you always hoped for on match.viking or download your favorite epic poem from amazon.viking. Finally a place on the Internet for vikings from vikings.

What’s closer to the truth

.Viking is being applied for by a cruise operator headquarter in Los Angeles. Their application states that domain is not available for public registration. So while our dreams of owning iama.viking may be dashed, at least we don’t have to worry about the whole being sacked and looted thing.

and finally the office favorite…

.Horse

Of all the nTLDs on this list, what we are thinking and what the nTLD is are actually the same thing. This is a nTLD for everything horse. How cool is that?! Although Name.com does not own a horse (yet) .horse has become a constant in email threads and office conversations. Expect a disproportionate amount of .horse domains to be registered at Name.com if only because every employee here wants one.

Come to think of it, the only two types of nTLDs on this list are equestrian animals and ancient lifestyles. I guess we all want to be horse riding ninjas or unicorn riding vikings. We’ll probably stick to being a kick ass domain registrar for now, but if you need a horse riding viking or unicorn riding ninja– send our support team an email and we will see what we can do.

Which ones are we missing? What are your favorites?