ICANN’s Proposal for New Generic Top Level Domain Names


There has been considerable debate over the past few years over whether to allow a significant increase in the number of generic-type Top Level Domains. Generally, Top Level Domains (“TLDs”) follow the last period in a domain name, e.g., .com in Amazon.com and .ly in bit.ly.1 Country-code Top Level Domains (“ccTLDs”) currently include well-known designations such as .us; .uk; .de; .cn; and so forth, and (as the name suggests) are typically tied to a particular country or geographic region (e.g., .ly is the ccTLD for Libya).2 In contrast, generic-type TLDs (“gTLDs”) include designations that are not necessarily tied to any particular country, such as .com; .org; .gov; and .edu.3 There are currently 22 gTLDs.4 On June 20, 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), which manages all TLDs, took a major step towards increasing the number of gTLDs by approving the “New gTLD Program.”5 This program will allow public or private organizations to apply for and create virtually any gTLD of their choosing, thus allowing a potentially unlimited number of gTLDs.6 However, the program may also increase the potential for abuse by creating new avenues for trademark infringement and cybersquatting.

This article provides an analysis of the implementation of the New gTLD Program, a description of the existing and new procedures implemented by ICANN for controlling trademark infringement, and a discussion of the differing viewpoints by the proponents and opponents of this new program.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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