ICANN Approves Sweeping gTLD Expansion

ICANN see it now…cannt you?On Thursday the board of The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the biggest ever expansion of the scheme for having Generic Top Level Domains (GTLDs).

So instead of being limited to gTLDs which describe the purpose of traffic on the domain, such as .gov, .edu, end users could apply for their own top level domains. The city of Boston could be .Boston; the Res Sox could claim .RedSox; Steven Colbert and American Airlines could wrestle each other over .American.

So, who gets to have their own gTLD? 
Here’s the criteria so far:

  1. Money: ICANN hedges the details by saying they will set a price “based on the volume of applications”.  But to initially expect a minimum $100,000 fee. 
  2. Popularity: ICANN will evaluate the applicants business and technical use of the domain. Imagine the process of being voted on to cheer leading squad. (Sorry “.xxx domain” you’re popular, but in the wrong sort of way.)
  3. Opposition Period: just as with intellectual property applications, there will be a public opposition period. There are four stated reasons for opposition:
    1. String Confusion
    2. Existing Legal Rights
    3. Morality and Public Order
    4. Community Objection

Managing IP quotes Karla Valente, the ICANN’s gTLD program coordinator who says “We are pretty much aware that trademark infringement will be an issue. IP owners need to be very much aware of what is going on.” ICANN plans to designate an external organization to settle the potentially endless disputes arising from opposition.

This new scheme may present technical challenges, such as the increased load on the root name servers which may be forced to resolve these many new top level domains instead of passing the resolution request to a small number of authoritative servers.

ICANN’s plans to start accepting applications in the second quarter of 2009. There are obviously many still unanswered questions to address before they project when such domains would start being activated. 

Details, and news of IP issues to follow.

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