The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet’s governing body, is expected to begin its rollout of new generic top-level domains (gTLD) by mid-2013.
Beginning on March 26, 2013, a Trademark Clearinghouse will allow companies and individuals to request protection for their registered trademarks. For example, someone unaffiliated with Google could not quietly snap up the rights to .google. With the Clearinghouse, registered trademark holders can spend $150 annually per name to keep their suffix protected.
Up until now, there were 22 gTLDs, including .com, .net, .org, .info, .biz. This past summer, ICANN released a list of 1,930 applied-for gTLDs that included applications from top tech firms like Google, Samsung, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.
According to the Associated Press, the first gTLDs will most likely debut in April 2013 and ICANN will then introduce new domain names at a rate of about 20 per week. The AP goes on to report that ICANN will likely release new suffixes in Chinese and other foreign languages first, before implementing single-bidder English suffixes such as .apple, .ibm, .porsche and .vegas.
The idea of investing in new gTLDs is costly, however, with an evaluation fee of $185,000 and $5,000 paid to ICANN upfront for each gTLD. The full list of all 1,930 new gTLDs applied for can be found here