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Generic Top Level Domains gTLDs A fuss over nothing?

The internet is an ever changing landscape and it is a constant battle to keep up with the changes without the feeling you are getting left behind. For many businesses, who have better things to do " such as running their businesses " it is often the case that they become targets for some unscrupulous companies / individuals looking to make a fast buck through fear and uncertainty.

Introduction

The latest scaremongering bandwagon is the potential implementation of generic Top Level Domains or gLTD’s in January 2012. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) " the governing body of internet domains " announced that it was proposing the creation of new Top Level Domains (TLD).

A TLD is what appears after the last . (dot) in a domain name. Most of us have country specific domains such as .uk (United Kingdom) or .fr (France). Domains ending in .com or .org or .edu are what are known as gTLDs.  At the moment there are a restricted number of these gTLDs but ICANN are proposing the extension of these to allow companies or organisations to apply to run their own  gTLD.  So for example Tesco could apply to run “.tesco” which would enable  them to create and control domains such as “www.bank.tesco” or “www.shopping.tesco” . This obviously relates to their brand name and so it may be important for them to control this.

Organisations however could apply for a whole range of gTLDs ranging from “.arts” to “.zoo”! Sites that undertake a similar function could be grouped together, e.g. “.bank” for banks, “.loans” for loan companies etc.,  Already the .xxx gTLD has been approved for adult entertainment sites however at the time of writing it has not yet been implemented.

TLDs and your brand (or your competitors)

ICANN see this as an opportunity for brands to take control of their on-line presence and could potentially be seen as a a bit of a money spinner for ICANN (and others). Equally many think that it is a disaster waiting to happen with a potential for “cybersquatting” where someone buys up a domain name to prevent someone else who may have a claim to use it from using it, e.g. Sainsburys buying the “.tesco” gTLD to prevent Tesco from using it.  The question is raised of who has the right to the name, e.g. Polo " who gets to use that, Volkswagen, Ralph Lauren, Nestle or even polo players!

There is a registration period from January 2012 to April 2012 which will give interested partied time to sort thing out. However at prices starting from$ 185,000 a pop. I don’t think many companies, let alone SME’s will be rushing out to purchase a gTLD. Likewise I doubt many spammers could afford the money to cybersquat on a gTLD as they do on “.com” or “.uk” sites.

Advice

So our advice to SME’s is that generally a gTLD is not really that relevant to your business so there is no need to sign up to seminars or webinars to learn more about them. There is no need to respond to letters or emails warning you that if you don’t act now someone else will get in there first and take the name.

It may not even happen either as organisations representing big brands are opposing the implementation so as the the title says it may all be a fuss over nothing " especially for small businesses.

It’s worth noting that there was a similar fuss a couple of years ago when Columbia released the .co TLD to non Colombian organisations and prices started at ridiculous rates (£ 200 +) but take up wasn’t huge so prices fell to more realistic rates.

Resources

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Wikipedia gTLDs

Wikipedi Proposed gTLDs

Wikipedia Cybersquatting

Date: 06/09/2011

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