On June 13, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers ("ICANN") revealed the list of 1930 applications for new gTLDs to be launched as part of ICANN’s proposed expansion of the top-level domain space. No matter how many applications are eventually approved and how many gTLDs launched, this will be a dramatic change to the domain name system. Currently, the domain name system is limited to 22 "generic" gTLDs (.com, .org, .net, .info, .biz, etc.), in addition to country codes (e.g., .us, .uk, .cn), and certain special community-sponsored domains (e.g., the new .xxx for adult entertainment). Under the new system, organizations located anywhere in the world were able to apply to operate a gTLD that corresponds to just about any word or phrase, including an organization's name or brand. As an example, Reed Smith operates under a home page of www.reedsmith.com, but could have applied for .ReedSmith and thereby had domain names such as www.lawyers.reedsmith or www.trademark.reedsmith.
The fact that there were 1930 applications—each carrying a $185,000 application fee to ICANN—does not mean that there will be 1930 new gTLDs. Many gTLDs, such as .HOTELS, .INC, and .SHOP had multiple applicants, and after an auction is conducted—with some of these gTLDs going for millions of dollars—only one applicant will survive. In fact, 230 proposed gTLDs had multiple applicants and those 230 gTLDs accounted for approximately 750 of the applications. Of the 1930 applications, just over a quarter were for specific brand names (with all or almost all being applied for by the brand owner, the majority of those for defensive purposes, i.e., to prevent a third party from doing so and without any plans to broadly launch a new gTLD beyond a handful of second-level domains). One-hundred sixteen were for non-ASCII strings such as Chinese or Arabic letters, and 66 were for geographic terms such as .nyc. The rest were all generic terms or abbreviations, most of which will have open platforms wherein they will sell second-level domains (the string to the left of the dot, such as "reedsmith" in reedsmith.com) to the general public. Of note, three entities applied for .SUCKS, very likely a business model designed to get businesses to purchase their brands as second-level domains so that they can assure themselves control of a domain with that negative connotation. Similarly, the current owner of .xxx has applied for .adult and .sex (with two competitors applying for .sex/.sexy), and if the history of .xxx is any indication, the owner(s) of these new gTLDs will likely attempt to extract millions from brands, individuals, and institutions fearful of others using their identities in association with pornographic or obscene content.
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