CATEGORY: New Domains

GAC Recommendations May Slow New gTLD Process

Remember when you were a kid and you had to do all your chores before going outside? So you’d finish putting away the dishes, or whatever, and ask your parents to go outside, and they’d keep adding chores. “Clean the cat litter,” they’d say. Hours later, the sun would be setting, and you’d be crying at your window, like Cinderella. Okay, so maybe that was Cinderella. The point is, that’s precisely what seems to be happening with the new gTLD process — we want the new gTLDs to come out to play, but now the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) has a few more things they need new TLDs to do before they can leave the house.

So what’s going on with new TLDs, why does the GAC want ICANN to consider new safeguards, and what does that mean for the whole process? Here’s a breakdown:

Background: Beijing

On April 11th, the GAC released its Beijing Communique, outlining recommendations for new TLDs. The communique basically let ICANN know that the GAC isn’t currently satisfied with the direction of many new TLDs, including closed generic terms and market sector terms. You can download the full communique here, but the advice section contains the following notable recommendations:

  1. Due to lack of community support, .ISLAM and .HALAL ought not to proceed.
  2. .SHENZHEN, .PERSIANGULF, .GUANGZHOU, .AMAZON, .PATAGONIA, .DATE, .SPA, .YUN, .THAI, .ZULU, .WINE, and .VIN should not be allowed to proceed past the Initial Evaluation stage due to their perceived negative effect on the communities they might be associated with.
  3. ICANN should reconsider their stance on singular and plural strings, as the inclusion of both may be confusing to users.
  4. Six new safeguards, outlining security and privacy practices, should be put in place by contract, putting more weight on applicants and registries to make sure their new TLDs are run with utmost concern for safety and credibility.
  5. Strings that are related to market sectors ought to operate within applicable laws, should act in the public’s interest, and should adhere to multiple safeguards that ensure the strings are used to help markets function healthily — the GAC includes a “non-exhaustive” list of over 180 different proposed strings that ought to be included.
  6. .WTF, .GRIPE, .SUCKS, .FAIL ought to be regulated to reduce cyber bullying and misuse.

What’s Happening Now: Community Forum

In response to this advice, on May 10th, ICANN opened a community forum to collect feedback and responses concerning the communique and how it ought to be implemented, including this timeline, that branches all the way out into late June. The comment period ended on May 14 and there are over 90 responses in the thread inbox of community input, which you can access here. ICANN’s review of the comments will take until June 20 to complete.

The responses range in tone and direction, from concerned trademark holders and communities standing with the GAC and against allowing certain threads to be approved without added safeguards (such as Michelin Tires objecting the use of .TIRES by Bridgestone), to applicants that are sick of waiting through another advisory process and want to see the new TLD process move forward, instead of inching back (such as Google’s concern that the GAC has overstepped its bounds in advising how the new gTLD program should perform as a whole).

It seems that once again, the ICANN community, and it’s stakeholders are in a locked horns position, between those who have an invested interest in new gTLDs making it through, and those who have an invested interest in certain nTLDs failing.

What’s Next?

While ICANN doesn’t have to accept all of the GAC’s recommendations, its clear that for the time being, its New gTLD Program Committee (NGPC) will takes it time in reviewing all the safeguards and recommendations, as well as try to discern whether or not the GAC is maintaining its stance as one advisory component in a multi-stakeholder, bottom-up democratic approach, or if it’s being heavy-handed. Until then, many applications will be on hold, including closed generics, market sector related TLDs, and so on.

Because the GAC’s list is non-exhaustive, and the GAC states that more safeguards may have to be put in place for certain strings than others, the recommendations have the ability to affect a very large amount of applicants. Aside from the broad range of the recommendations, the GAC states that their next meeting will be at the next ICANN convention in South Africa on July 14, which many applicants worry will mean decisions on their applications might not be made until late July.

What Do You Think?

Weigh in. It’s no secret that we, as a registrar, really kind of want new TLDs to start launching already. We’ve been waiting for a long time, and we’re excited to see how the new Internet is going to react. But, what do you think? Do you think the GAC has gone too far, or is the measure of their concern mirrored in the community? What would you do, if you were in charge of ICANN?

Let us know — and keep an eye on the new TLDs, as they make their way through the application process, by signing up for our watcher.

Don’t Let Plural and Singular New TLDs Get You Down

Car. Cars.

The last time you were visually confused by these two words was probably first grade, but a lot of experts are concerned that in the context of TLDs, you’ll be confused. They’ve got a point. Before you balk, take a look at this:

  •,,,,,,,, marley

The above are all possible domain names, if .auto, .car, .cars, and .autos all launch. Confusing, right? Particularly if you’re trying to remember which one your friend told you is the absolutely, undeniably, hands-down most bitchin’ site to buy a car on. You’ll be wishing you wrote that one down.

Ever since the ICANN String Similarity Independent Panel issued their final say on singular and plural domains, deciding that both were ultimately permissible, there’s been a lot of worry in the domain industry. At the Beijing conference early April, the GAC brought up the concern with ICANN and requested that ICANN reconsider their position. Since ICANN uses an Independent Panel to excuse themselves from possibly biased decisions, they stated that at this time they’d defer to that panel.

So what should you do? How can you protect yourself from confusion madness?


Put on a Bob Marley song, or whatever works for you (we don’t judge), and take a deep breath. Five reasons not to worry:

  1. This isn’t the first time confusion could have occurred with TLDs. Take .biz and .bz, or .co and .com, or the multi-uses of ccTLDs, like .me, which is both the ccTLD for Montenegro and a personal website TLD option. These are potentially confusing, and yet they exist peacefully.
  2. Sure and are super-confusing. Which is why, as a brand owner, you would never register these sites, unless you were just trying to land traffic. It’s why car manufacturers don’t name their cars “car” and their dealerships “cars.” and will probably both be registered by Chevy, the trademark owner – and they’ll probably lead to the same place.
  3. One registry may fail. But these applicants knew going in that each proposed gTLD was a risk, and many went with plurals right of the bat. Why? Variety. And variety is the spice of capitalism. The market seems to always figure out how much it can take. While .car might be registered mostly by a few large-scale dealerships, .cars might end up being a desired registry for blogs, forums, and other small-scale webpages, and at that point both TLDs are discernible.
  4. You are not going to have to register your company in each possible TLD. We know many of you are small business owners and purse strings are tight. Owning several domains has always been a part of your business plan, and you may decide to select a market-specific TLD, but you don’t have to. Registering your trademark in the Clearinghouse will help keep you protected, but it’s not even possible now to register every possible TLD. And that’s okay. When’s the last time you landed on the wrong page via a typo and thought, “Hey! I’ll just shop on this shitty site instead of the cool one I really wanted?” Never. Neither will your customers. Get the ones you really want, keep your eye on the TMCH, and move on.
  5. There’s going to be so much room on the Web. And you get to be a part of that. Do you want to add a page detailing your promotions? Use a .PROMO. Want to start a new blog about beer? Use .BEER. It’s possible to stretch your legs and find your own piece of the Net.

Here’s the main thing: ICANN already has a bunch of rules. 338 pages worth, to be exact. And there are checks and balances, as well as a multi-stakeholder approach, meant to rule out any mistakes. Not everything can be delegated, though, and not every mistake can be avoided. It’s just like government – too little rules, chaos; too many rules, not enough freedom. And every market needs freedom because every market needs competition and choices.

Rule out plurals, and ICANN rules out plurals in other languages, in which visual similarity may not even be an issue. Rule out words with one letter difference, and .shop and .show might not make it. Eventually, it’s up to you, the consumer, to decide what lasts and what goes the way of the wagon. We trust you.

What is Pre-Delegation? New gTLDs and the Final Phase of the Application Process

If you’ve been following new gTLDs through the application process, then you’ve been hearing a lot about “pre-delegation.” Maybe you’ve wondered what this final phase of application entails.

Well, lucky for you, we read the ICANN guidebook for fun — we take it on vacation, have it downloaded to our tablets to read in bed, and quote it every chance we get. If you don’t find the same joy in the 300+ page guidebook, congratulations. You’re waaaay cooler than us. Since we’ve done the legwork for you, here’s an easy guide to pre-delegation and what to expect before new TLDs move to the delegation stage (the launch phase).

Pre-Delegation Explained:

After applications make it through the initial evaluation process (more about that here), they’ll need to go through pre-delegation, a series of tests an applicant must pass before being granted delegation into the root zone (the top-level domain name server zone). The testing ensures that each applicant has the technical and operational capabilities and mode of operation in place to provide registry services in a safe and secure manner, according to ICANN’s guidelines.

Although pre-delegation is currently slotted to occur IE pass results and contract signings, ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade may allow pre-delegation testing to occur while ICANN continues to move through IEs, in order to speed the process of delegation. The suggestion to do so was made at the Beijing ICANN summit earlier this month, by Donuts co-founder Jon Nevett, who felt the actual process should better reflect the timeline ICANN seems to be already following.

The Three Phases of Pre-Delegation:

DNS Infrastructure Testing and Prerequisites: DNS, or the Domain Name System, which is often described as the “phone book for the Internet,” provides a naming system that translates user-friendly domain names into numerical IP addresses. The DNS infrastructure testing done for the pre-delegation phase of application is meant to ensure that applicants have the capability to run DNS functions properly.

Registry System Testing and Prerequisites: During the registry system testing, applicants submit data proving they can handle the duties of a registry – including registering a large volume of new TLDs, providing WhoIs data on each registered domain, and handling the technical and operational function capacity of a registry.

Requirement to Provide for Continuity of Basic Registry Operations: For this final test, ICANN requires a financial annualized plan put in place to provide basic registry functions “in case of registry failure.” The financial plan is meant to act as a back-up plan in case the applicant does not succeed in providing a fully operating registry and needs to scale-back to bare-bones operational capabilities until a solution can be reached. It’s a step meant to protect those who own domains within the registry.

The ICANN guidebook goes into more detail about the specific tests of pre-delegation (we lovingly left those details out, but you can download the guidebook off the ICANN website). Most tests are run by the applicants, who then provide data to ICANN, but ICANN runs its own tests, when needed. At the end of pre-delegation, applicants may enter into an agreement with ICANN, after which they may launch their new TLDs.

So how long will it take new gTLD that are passing through Initial Evaluation to launch? 

The pace of pre-delegation depends on the readiness of the applicant – if the applicant has all their systems in place, and has made the functionality of their systems clear in application, the pre-delegation phase is merely a formality. For those who need to tweak their proposed systems, or who need to provide more security, the pre-delegation phase may extend longer.

If pre-delegation is allowed to start immediately, before signed contracts, then launches will occur at a faster rate than if applicants are required to wait for IE results before pre-delegation testing, and then will have to wait for testing before delegation.

Keep an eye on your favorite nTLDs, as they move through the application process, by using our nTLD watcher. And keep checking back here. We’ll have up-to-date information on the nTLD application process throughout each phase.

Closed Generic new gTLDs – What Should ICANN do Next?

You can hardly swing a dead cat around NewTLDland without hitting some controversy — particularly concerning closed generic new gTLDs.  March’s conversation concerning the possible consequences of allowing them, and what ICANN should do concerning their implementation, resulted in the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) issuing a broad recommendation a couple weeks ago, stating that “strings representing a generic term,” that are also restricted, should “serve a public interest goal.” It’s still up to ICANN to decide what that means, and whether or not to follow the guideline in the first place, and until they make the decision plenty of sources are weighing in.

In the spirit of camaraderie, we’d thought it would be fun to take some time, examine the issue, and try and predict the future without any actual ability to predict the future.

What is a “Closed Generic” new TLD?

“Closed generic” refers to any proposed new TLD that embodies a generic term, like .app, .cloud, and .car, but with closed registration, meaning that the registry selects who can register based on their own criteria, often limiting registration to the company. One example is the possibility of Amazon becoming the registry for .book and closing the registration to only allow those who publish e-books for Amazon’s Kindle service to apply for a .book domain.

In a lot of instances, proposed generic term new TLDs have more than one applicant. Community applicants get first dibs on whatever extension they apply for, but if there is no community application, generic term extensions are up for grabs, and are often applied for by both open and closed registry applicants, which is why the conversation has become so heated.

The Arguments on Either Side

Some believe that generic new TLD registrations should remain open to every Internet user, regardless of the ramifications. To those who support completely open registrations, the free market takes the place of any restrictions, or policies, in controlling a new TLD and determining the direction and definition of any given term. According to these opponents, restricting a generic term registration damages the market related to the generic term, closes smaller businesses out, reduces competition, and acts against public interest.

Others argue that a free market is a free market, no matter where that market starts. Any entity with the money could apply for a TLD, and when an applicant gets the registry rights, that applicant can do whatever they want with the registry, says those who support closed registrations. Because the registry rights also represent a free market. Those who support closed generic term registries also argue that open registries increase phishing, cyber squatting, and scams, and create a market that cannot gain credibility because anyone can register,  and therefore fails as a go-to source.

So, what will ICANN do?

ICANN has a few options with how to deal with this dilemma, but no easy solutions. There’s nothing in the guidebook, according to ICANN, to restrict closed generic registries (others interpret the guidebook code of conduct to include taboos on running exclusive or closed generic term registrations), so ICANN is not obligated to change their proceedings at all.

ICANN could amend their policies,  stress the approval of open generic registries over closed, like they have with community registries, request that applicants redefine their registry terms, or do nothing at all. However, in light of the recent GAC advice, and objections, the chances of ICANN doing nothing seems slim.

Let us know what you think. What should ICANN do? If you’re watching new gTLDs, then the discussion is worth keeping your eye on, as it will likely dictate what extensions you’ll keep watching and which ones are going to be closed off to you, and other users like you. Keep an eye on your favorite nTLDs with our watcher, and keep checking back here – we’ll update information as the discussion continues.

Who is Alain Pellet, and What’s an Independent Objector? ICANN Formal Objection Review, Part I

One of the most exciting aspects of ICANN’s new gTLD application process is the objections. Looking over the newly released list, you may notice a couple of things: One, there’s going to be a hot debate about who owns a word. Two, there will be a defining decision made regarding brands that encompass generic terms, such as .BLUE being objected by Blue Cross and Blue Shield. And three, there’s a guy named Prof. Alain Pellet objecting to a lot of new gTLDs.

Who is Professor Pellet? Did he kill Mr. Boddy in the library with a candlestick? And, what makes him an Independent Objector? Here’s a run-down of who Pellet is, and his role at ICANN:

Who is Alain Pellet?

He’s a professor of law, a former United Nations International Law president and current member, he’s been on the counsel for a number of governments, and he’s an author of multiple books. (Read: All-round badass.)

What is an independent Objector?

An Independent Objector is the person ICANN selected to represent the public during the formal objection period. Basically, Pellet represents the concerns and ntlds objectionsneeds of the general public, who may not have the funds to submit a formal objection on their own, or have the legal resources to back a formal objection through the dispute process.

According to ICANN, the Independent Objector (IO) must be unaffiliated with any applicant and willing to present public concerns in an unbiased and fair manner. The IO is a third-party presenter in the objection process. The IO, according to the ICANN guidebook, may object to any application he finds “highly objectionable,” that is not already being objected to by another entity, and he must only object to an applicant after a member of the public community has submitted a comment concerning the application, or an argument concerning opposition to an application takes place in the public sphere.

What is a formal objection?

A formal objection is different than the objections people were able to make as comments on ICANN threads. It’s a filed objection against one or more applicants that claims one of four infractions (this info can be found in Module 3 of the ICANN gTLD Guidebook):

  • String Confusion Objection: An applied-for gTLD is too similar to another applied-for, or current, gTLD, and therefore would create confusion among Internet users.
  • Legal Rights Objection: An applied-for gTLD infringes on a registered trademark or brand.
  • Limited Public Interest Objection: An applied-for gTLD infringes on the public’s legal interest.
  • Community Objection: An applied-for gTLD damages a recognized community’s interests.

After a formal objection is filed, the applicant has 30 days to respond. After 30 days, if the applicant does not respond, the objection wins out, and the application is void. If the applicant responds, a expert panel, knowledgeable in whatever area the objection is in, will review the objection and decide an outcome.

Prof. Alain Pellet’s Chosen Objections:

Looking at the objections, you’ll see that the Pellet, acting as the Independent Objector, only objected to applications on the basis of Limited Public Interest Objections or Community Objections, and that is because the IO is limited to those two types of objections. Here’s a list of the new gTLDs Pellet objected to (LP= Limited Public Objection; C= Community Objection):

  • .AMAZON (the proposed Chinese and Arabic script equivalents to .AMAZON, as well) (C)
  • .CHARITY (the proposed Chinese script equivalent to .CHARITY, as well) (C)
  • .INDIANS (C)

For a complete list of all objections, click here.

Each objections intends to protect communities and public interests. .AMAZON and .PATAGONIA both represent well-recognized company brands and geographical regions, defined by their culture and inhabitants, so the IO is representing the members of these two communities when objecting to these brands owning the proposed nTLDs.

Similarly, .INDIANS defines two sets of cultures, both indigenous North Americans and inhabitants of India, and so the IO is objecting to the use of this defining term in either too broad or too limited a context, for fear of damaging these communities.

Finally, .CHARITY and the series of medical industry gTLDs represent organizational communities that rely on credibility, trust, and security to relay information, fund-raise, and save lives. In these objections, the IO is asserting that these gTLDs would infringe on the legal and community rights of these two sectors, and that allowing unrestricted or bias control of the registration of these nTLDs would be detrimental to the overall health of the Internet. We’ll have to wait and see if the reviewing board agrees.

Keep in touch to see what happens with these objections as they work through the dispute process, and feel free to check out the ICANN-sponsored Independent Objector webpage, for more information on Alain Pellet and the role of the IO. If you’ve had your eye on any of these new gTLDs, be sure to sign up for our Watcher, and we’ll keep you updated on the nTLDs you’re interested in, through the evaluation and dispute processes.

How to register your trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse (and why you should)

The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) has opened for business. Queue “Eye of the Tiger,” put on your sweatbands, and start jogging in place, because for all you trademark and brand owners out there, now is the perfect time to register your trademark and start protecting yourself. Take advantage of Early Bird registration and prevent the “oh, crap” moment six months down the line when you realize you forgot to register and Sunrise on one of your favorite nTLDs is about to launch. Here’s a breakdown of the benefits of registration, as well as an overview of pricing and registration options and how to register.

Benefits of Registration

Trademark owners who register their marks in the Clearinghouse gain two out right advantages over trademark owners who don’t:ntld clearinghouse

  1. Sunrise Service: The minimum requirement for participating in the Sunrise periods for any nTLD will be having your registered trademark submitted in the Clearinghouse. Sunrise is the prime opportunity to secure the domain names you want before anyone else, and registering in the Clearinghouse is the only way to participate.
  2. Trademark Claims Service: Arguably the best benefit of registering in the Trademark Clearinghouse is that you’ll be notified when anyone tries to register a domain that contains your trademark in it. Without having to defensively register your trademark in hundreds of new registries, the Clearinghouse allows you to register once, and have your trademark in the database every nTLD registry has to check. When someone tries to register your mark, they’ll be notified that you own it. If they continue, you’ll be notified that they registered the domain and be able to act quickly.

Pricing and Registration Options

The cost of registering one trademark is $150 for one year. The price goes down if you purchase multiple year registrations. For example, it costs $435 to register 3 years, saving $15, and $735 for 5 years, still saving $15. While the $15 saving might not be that impressive, the opportunity to register for multiple years and then not have to worry about re-registering will give you peace of mind – you’ll be protected, and now you won’t have to worry about it.

Your Sunrise Period registrations are not included in the price of Trademark Clearinghouse registration. The cost of registration is wholly dependent on the individual registries in charge of the nTLDs you want to register with.

You can register up to ten different variations of your registered trademark before having to pay extra, and the cost to add a variation is nominal – only a one dollar a year per variation of the same trademark. To register multiple trademarks, you’ll be billed $150 for each. If you have a portfolio of a multitude of trademarks, you may want to look into going through a trademark agent, because agents earn points as they register trademarks and get discounted prices the more trademarks they register. Those savings may get passed on to you.

If you register early, which is now, you’ll be included in the Early Bird registration, which means that although you’ll be covered immediately, your registration won’t expire until a year after the sunrise period of any given nTLD starts, so you’ll be getting an extra few months of coverage for free. For detailed pricing plans, click here.

How to Register

In order to register:

  1. Go to and click “Register Now.”
  2. You’ll have the option to register as a trademark holder or trademark agent.
  3. Be sure to complete the online forms accurately – if your trademark is rejected for any reason, including clerical error, you’ll still be charged.
  4. You’ll be prompted to provide the proper documentation, and your trademark needs to be a legally recognized and registered trademark. Some exceptions apply, which are listed here.
  5. The Clearinghouse will notify you when your trademark is accepted or rejected. The time it takes to get back to you is dependent on how many trademarks you enter.

For more information about what exactly the TMCH does, check out our incredibly informed, well-written explanation, here. Also, one of the best ways to watch for Sunrise periods is to subscribe to our nTLD watcher. Let us know which nTLDs you want to know about and we’ll email you as they move through the process and enter into Sunrise.

Any questions we didn’t answer? Leave them in the comments section and we’ll get back to you.

First 60 New gTLD Applications Have Received Their Initial Evaluation Results

The first 60 new gTLD applications have been reviewed by ICANN, and even though eight are remain in review for various reasons, all other 52 applications have passed into delegation. Because all of the internationalized domain names were prioritized first, every application that has passed through the Initial Evaluation is a non-Latin script domain extension. For a list of the first 60 applicants, click here.

Why didn’t eight of the applications get final results? According to ICANN, that could be for a variety of reasons, including pending change requests, clarifying the ntlds are coming soonquestions, or a need for missing information to be provided. Whatever the reason, ICANN promises to turn around results on these pending applications as soon as possible.

Although in these first two rounds, all applications either passed, or received a pending results notification, there are two other options for ICANN to designate an application as they determine Initial Evaluation outcomes:

  • Eligible for Extended Evaluation:  While one or more of the determining qualifiers in the applicants review needed improvement or more information, ICANN has determined that the applicant may extend their evaluation period and address the errors or redirect areas of their application that need to be clarified. In this instance, the applicant may still receive a passing mark. For this result, the areas of improvement may be financial, technical, or geographical.
  • Ineligible for Further Review: If an applicant receives this status as the result of their Initial Evaluation, then the application has been denied due to the fact that ICANN review panels determined the applicant either does not have the infrastructure to support registration, or the string conflicts with another. For this result, the applicant did not pass the criteria for string similarity, background screening, or DNS stability.

For those who have received their passing results, the next step and how quickly the extension becomes available for public registration depends wholly on the applicant. The applicants are now able to begin contracting as early as April 23, depending on whether or not they have no objections or contentions, and whether their systems are ready to launch.

There will be a new set of 30 applications with finalized Initial Evaluation results every week, and ICANN hopes to keep increasing this number up to 100, so that it is possible that they might move through all applications by the end of August.

Keep updated on the nTLDs you’re watching by joining our watcher service. You tell us which extensions you want info on and we’ll let you know the status of the application and when they enter sunrise, landrush, and general registration.

The Different Types of New gTLDs: Which One is Right for You?

The amount of new gTLD applications is at once exciting and terrifying (kind of like my second cup of coffee every morning). Exciting, because you’re going to have more options than ever to find the right domain name for you. Terrifying, because there are tons of applications and it can be overwhelming to figure out which nTLDs are going to offer the best choices.

You can check out the ICANN list of applications, which you can search by priority number, alphabetically, by location, by applicant, or by term, to see how many applicants are applying for the term you’re interested in. You can also check out our list, which is arranged by specialty and interest, to help give you a jumping-off point for figuring out what nTLDs might be in your marketable area.

But, either way, you’re still juggling a lot of information, and it’s important to be able to discern the different types of applications so you know which registries may be open to you. Here’s a breakdown of the different types of proposed extensions, and some examples of each, so you know what to look for as you peruse the list.

Open, Restricted, and Closed Registries:

There are three different types of registries – open, restricted, and closed. In order to figure out which are which, you have to read through the beginning part of an application, all of which can be found via PDF hyperlinks in the ICANN application list.

Open: Anyone can register in an open registry. The registry will either act as its own registrar, or delegate registration to accredited registrars, who will then register available extensions to you. Open registries are meant to operate as free markets, and many applicants site that they prefer to remain open in order to allow the Internet community to shape the meaning of the nTLD.

Restricted: Individuals, companies, or groups within a certain set of criteria may register. Restricted registries are often community or geographic registries, meaning that you can register a domain, provided you belong to the community, or to the geographic area defined by the registry.

Restricted registries aren’t always community or geographic registry groups, however. Many brand registries are operating as restricted, limiting registration to customers and employees, and some generic term nTLD applications offer restricted access, as well. For example, Amazon plans to offer .book to authors within their own Kindle community, while Google plans to offer .blog to Blogger users only.

The restricted registry is meant to maintain the validity of new gTLDs attempting to define a certain sector, and many applicants explain that a semi-private registry provides a safer, more well-constructed virtual name space.

Closed: You won’t likely be able to register a domain in a closed registry, because many closed registries are brand extensions, so the registration will be kept in the company for obvious marketing and trademark reasons. In these instances, the registry acts as registry, registrar, and registrant, keeping control of the new gTLD at all levels.

Closed registries are meant to strengthen branding, and protect trademarks by creating a closed name space for a certain group or company to expand their own identity.

Geographic, Community, Brand, and Generic Groupings:

Most applications can be grouped into four different sections – geographic, community, brand, or generic – and each section can be open, closed, or restricted, depending on the applicant. At times, one proposed nTLD may be applied for by many applicants, who each represent a different combination. For instance, .art is applied for by 10 applicants, two of which are community applications, and of the two community applications, one community wishes to run an open registry and the other wishes to run a restricted registry.

Geographic: Any nTLD specific to a geographical area – whether a country, city, or continent. Examples include .Berlin, .NYC, .Madrid, .Africa.

Community: New gTLDs meant to be used as community registries. These applications get preference over all other types of applications and may relate to any type of community, whether religious, interest, profession, charity, or other. Examples include .LGBT, .Islam, .art, .tennis, .med.

Brand: Proposed nTLDs that relate directly to a trademarked brand, and will be used to help strengthen the brand by providing brand-specific domain extensions to the company. Examples include .AIG, .Samsung, .BestBuy, .Flowers, .JCP.

Generic: Any generic term used outside of the other three categories. Often generic term applications have a mixture of brand, closed, open, restricted, and sometimes community and geographic. That’s when things get complicated. Examples of generic nTLDs include .bike, .car, .app, .eco, .film.

Aside from all the variations on nTLDs, there are also internationalized extensions that use non-Latin script characters. Many applications are for Mandarin extensions, but there are also Cyrillic, Hindi, Japanese, Arabic, Sanskrit, and other languages represented as well. The applications range in the same categories, except that they do not contain Latin script and are prioritized for release before any Latin script applications.

Once you narrow down the nTLDs that best suit you, keep an eye on them with our watcher, which allows you to choose specific extensions in receive information on sunrise, application evaluations, and landrush. And keep checking back here, for current information as applications move through evaluation.

What’s Next for the nTLDS? An Overview of ICANN’s Initial Evaluation Timeline and Process

If you’ve been anxiously awaiting the nTLDs (new gTLDs), then you’re not alone. Some of us are too excited to sleep and spend most of our nights continuously refreshing the ICANN homepage, hoping to see more information about when these little guys are going live. But enough about us, because the 1,917 nTLD applicants still in the running have been waiting for ICANN’s initial evaluation results since October, and they’ve got an exciting few months ahead of them.

ICANN’s working hard to get through all the applications, and hopes to start releasing initial evaluation results later this month. For those of you new to nTLD watching, or those who have been patiently standing by for more information, here’s a run-down of what to expect, as the initial evaluations start coming out.

Christine Willett, the general manager of ICANN’s new gTLD program, hosted a webinar about the initial evaluation process, to try to solidify important dates and let applicants know where their applications stood. The main takeaway points were:

  • Initial evaluation results are set to be released, according to priority draw number, on Mar. 23, 2013.
  • ICANN hopes to review about 100 application per week, starting now and ending in June 2013 – meaning that depending where an application is on the priority drawing list, that applicant will receive their initial evaluation results anywhere between Mar. 23 and the end of June.
  • About 80% of applicants will receive clarifying questions (CQs) during their initial evaluation process — those CQs will be issued between Jan. and June of this year. The questions are meant to clarify areas of applications that need more information, or to update information that may have changed since the initial applications were received, in June of 2012.
  • Applicants have four weeks to respond to clarifying questions.
  • After clarifying questions, applications will go through a final review, and initial evaluation results will be published, again according to priority draw placement, starting in May 2013, and ending in August 2013.

So if you’re wondering when the first nTLDs are going to “go live,” the best guess for applications closer to the front of the priority list, would be sometime in the summer of this year. Applicants will still have to go through a pre-delegation process after the initial evaluation results are published, so even if applicants make it through the initial evaluation with no major concerns (most are expected to), applicants won’t be going straight from initial evaluation to launch.

Still fuzzy on what exactly the initial evaluation is? During the initial evaluation, ICANN has multiple panels reviewing applications. Each panel is named for the service it provides, and the panels included in initial evaluation are:

  • Background screening: The background screening process is already partially complete. ICANN already checked to make sure that those applying are who they say they are, but now ICANN will need to evaluate the background of the applicant to make sure there are no conflicts of interest, such as a former cyber-squatter applying for administration rights of nTLDs.
  • String similarity: During the initial evaluation, ICANN will be checking each applicant to make sure proposed nTLDs are not too similar to one another, or to previously released gTLDs, in order to prevent string contentions.
  • DNS stability: ICANN will make sure each applicant has the DNS (domain name system) capability to support the administration and registry of their proposed nTLD.
  • Geographic names: During this phase of evaluation, ICANN makes sure that no proposed strings are in contention with geographical TLDs. Swiss Airlines already had to withdraw their application to .SWISS for this exact reason.
  • Financial: In order to properly administrate a nTLD, the applicant needs to have the financial stability to properly run and support the needs of the registry.
  • Technical and operational: Another initial evaluation check to make sure the applicants proposing nTLDs have the capability to run and support an entire registry for their nTLD(s).
  • Registry services: During this evaluation, applicants will be checked to make sure the manner in which they will be registering their nTLD conforms to ICANN guidelines, and that the proposed use of a string, as expressed in the application, meshes with the ICANN guidelines concerning how to provide registry services.

If you’re as excited as we are about nTLDs, then keep checking back here, on our blog – we’ll keep posting up-to-date information on the new gTLD application process. If you’ve got your eye on a handful of nTLDs, make sure to check out our nTLD watcher, which will keep you updated on the nTLDs you care about.



Perfect nTLDs for an E-Commerce Storefront

Remember when everyone started using online storefronts and the older generation was all, “Those crazy kids with these crazy electronic stores. Whatever happened to selling door to door, or in the market?” Of course you don’t – that was like a bazillion years ago. And besides, those people have been proven dead wrong.

The average U.S. consumer spends over $1,000 a year online, and that number is expected to increase by 44% in the next three years, 71% of shoppers believe they’ll get a better deal online than in stores, and in the next few years, mobile shopping is expected to count for $64 billion of revenue in the U.S. alone (according to a 2012 eMarketer report).ntld storefront irony

Bottom line: It’s time to start your e-commerce site, open an online front for your brick and mortar business, or max-out your e-commerce storefront with blogs, product pages, and sales tabs. If you’re looking for affordable new domains in the next year, consider some of the new gTLDs that are coming your way – you’ll be able to get short, memorable domain names with industry-specific extensions at landrush prices, and some of the nTLDs are specifically tailored for e-commerce.

Here’s a couple nTLD suggestions that would be perfect for e-commerce:

  • .SHOP: When you’re looking for a good, searchable domain name, one of the rules is to stick with highly searchable keyword terms. What if you could put one of those terms in your domain name without compromising length, or the name of your company? That’s what a .SHOP domain can offer you, as an e-commerce owner. You’ll be able to have access to a virtual name space for shopping, and acquire a domain name that says, “You can shop here.”
  • .BUY: Just like .SHOP, .BUY creates a generic-term domain name that both adds a searchable keyword to your extension and signals to potential customers what business sector you belong to. .BUY and .SHOP are slotted to be industry-wide nTLDs that offer a unique name space for retailers, all over the world, who sell their merchandise online.
  • .PROMO: Promos make the e-commerce world go around. Conversion rates increase during promotional periods, especially when promoting on social networks. Get a unique domain name specifically for your promotions page with .PROMO. Because it’s a new top level domain, you’ll be able to register your trademark during the sunrise period and secure for use during all of your future promotions. .PROMO is easily-identifiable to your customers and allows you to develop a specific site extension for the purpose of promotion.
  • .COUPONS/.DEALS/.DISCOUNT: Who doesn’t love a bargain? For real. If you know anyone who hates bargains, have them contact us so we can interview them for the blog because they would be a true anomaly. Having a page on your e-commerce site specific to savings allows your customers to go straight to the “bargain bin,” so to speak, if they’re shopping on a budget. Anytime you can make your site easier to navigate, conversion rates increase. These extensions offer a way to use your company name and a savings-centered extension to promote your deals, discounts, and coupons. Adding pages also increases inbound links, which helps SEO.
  • .ECOM: It doesn’t really get more industry specific than .ECOM. While you might be able to find nTLDs that cater to the industry you sell in, such as .SHOES, .CAR, and .BIKE, .ECOM is a perfect domain for any e-commercial business that doesn’t fit into a generic term category, or for any e-commercial business that sells products and services meant to increase other e-com sites, such as hosting services, analytics, shopping carts, purchasing services, affiliate marketing, social media enhancement, etc. .ECOM serves many different purposes, but stays specific to e-commerce.

Check out our complete list of nTLDs, including a retail-specific category. Also sign up to watch your favorite nTLDs, so you know when landrush and sunrise periods start, by using our watcher.