Hundreds of new domain name extensions are about to launch in 2013. This will create the largest rush for names in the history of the internet. Businesses need a strategy to protect their brands and trademarks.
At the same time, entrepreneurs and domain speculators ("domainers") vying for their chance to snap up great generic names need some strategies to take advantage of the opportunity and carve out their own piece of internet history.
The new wave of generic Top Level Domains
A few years ago, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)—the governing organization for generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) like .com, .net, .org, .biz—decided to expand the number of domain name extensions in the world beyond the current 22. After years of consultation and debate, ICANN now has 1,917 applications pending review and approval. This development will change the landscape of the internet as we know it.
Three new groups of gTLDs will be released:
1. Generic domains like .web, .shop, .hotel, .blog, .site, .music, .eco and .food
2. Geographical domains like .quebec, .berlin, .nyc, and .paris
3. Brand- or company-specific domains like .IBM, .Zappos, .Google and .Nike. Companies will likely retain these domains for internal use rather than for public registration.
Protecting your brand in the face of the new domains
Most mid-sized and large companies already own extensive domain portfolios in an effort to protect their trademarks and brands across the 22 gTLDs and hundreds of country code top level domains (ccTLDs). As a domain registrar, my company, Webnames.ca, has clients that own thousands of domains. They protect exact matches of their trademarks and non-trademarked brand names, misspellings of their trademarks and brands, and generic words associated with their industry across a vast number of domain extensions.