New generic Top Level Domains – who registers them and why?

From The IPKat: New generic Top Level Domains – who registers them and why?

The IPKat was delighted to receive this post from Emeritus Kat Mark Schweizer.  Thank you very much Mark for this contribution, and the one to come tomorrow!

The new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDS), unpopular with many brand owners, are set to come. The ICANN has received 1,930 applications for new gTLDs (netting the ICANN 1,745 x USD 185,000 = USD 357 million in the process, btw). 1,745 of those passed the initial evaluation, and 19 registry agreements have been signed as of end of August, among them for .clothing, .holdings, .singles, .游戏 (games) and. 企业 (enterprise).

According to the official ICANN “best case” timeline, the sunrise period for the first new gTLD may open as early as 26 October 2013, with name activation beginning on 13 November and open registration from 26 November (there is a tendency for these timelines to be extended).

The list below gives the most prolific applicants, i.e., those who applied for the most new generic TLDs.

Donuts co-founded by Paul Stahura: 307 gTLDs;
Google, Inc.: 103 gTLDs
Top Level Domains Holding: 92 gTLDs;
Amazon, Inc.: 76 new gTLDs;
Famous Four Media: 61 gTLDs;
Uniregistry: 54 gTLDs;
Radix Registry: 31 gTLDs.
United TLD Holdco led by Richard Rosenblatt: 26 gTLDs.

It is interesting to see that leading information technology companies have very different strategies regarding the new gTLDs. While Google and Amazon applied for a host of generic Top Level Domains – among them .home, .book, .how, .baby, .kid, .here, .lol, .fun, .free, .circle, .show and .pay – other large information technology companies such as Microsoft have only applied for a handful of TLDs, most of them trade marks (11 in the case of Microsoft). Apple has only applied for .apple, and Facebook and Twitter for exactly no gTLD. Amazon and Google obviously see a different business case for the generic TLDs, otherwise they would not have spent a combined USD 33 million in application fees alone. This Kat fails to see the business case, but maybe some reader can enlighten me in the comments.

230 strings applied for as new gTLDs are contested, i.e., claimed by more than one applicant. The most popular strings are:
.app (13)
.home (11)
.inc (11)
.art (10)
.blog (9)
.book (9)
.llc (9)
.shop (9)
If the applicants for the same string can’t find an agreement, the ICANN will carry out a “Community Priority Evaluation” if one of the applicants is community based applicant and elects this option. The goal of the Community Priority Evaluation is to determine the most deserving community.
Now, “as a last resort”, if no agreement is reached and no Community Priority Evaluation is carried out, the contested string is auctioned off among the applicants. I am sure the ICANN employee who wrote “as a last resort” was snickering at the time. There are only 67 community based applications out of 1,930 in total. And, as the gTLD Applicant Guidebook (v. 2012-06-04) Module 4 notes, “there is a possibility that significant funding will accrue to ICANN as a result of one or more auctions”. Possibility indeed, given that the string BOOK is contested between Amazon and Google (as is STORE and a number of other generic terms) and HOME between Google and Godaddy, for example.
So somebody is clearly making a lot of money from the introduction of new gTLDs. Brand owners, on the other hand, have to deal with probably a thousand new Top Level Domains in which their brands can be registered as secondary level domains (not all the new gTLDs will be open for registration for anyone and their cybersquatting grandmother, so it is difficult to say how many “open” gTLDs there will be in the end). But surely, the trade mark owners are protected by the Trademark Clearinghouse? Stay tuned for the next post tomorrow.