On June 20, 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) approved the implementation of a new generic top-level domain (“gTLD”) program that will allow businesses, organizations and other institutions to obtain their own domain name extensions, such as .library or .brand. Registration of a .brand gTLD is an attractive option for some brand owners, affording greater control over the brand’s online presence. Generic gTLDs, like .library, can be operated for the benefit of multiple organizations with an interest in the term or several companies within a particular industry.
Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted via an online interface from January 12, 2012 through April 12, 2012. There is $185,000 application fee and significant additional costs and obligations may be incurred during the application process, which is expected to take at least one year. Several companies are available to assist with the application process and other obligations of the gTLD owner should the application be approved, such as hosting and management of the gTLD. While ICANN plans to offer additional application periods in the future, the exact dates are not yet available and may end up being several years out.
If you choose not to register a .brand gTLD, you can still monitor the program for potentially infringing applications and oppose those applications, for a fee, through ICANN’s dispute resolution service providers.
Detailed information about ICANN’s gTLD program, the application process and an applicant’s financial and legal commitments can be found here: http://newgtlds.icann.org.