New Top Level Domains set to hit the Internet - Brand & Tradema

Dr. Maria Chetcuti Cauchi | Published on 18 Sep 2012

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Set to be released online in the third quarter of 2013, new gTLDs are increasing the awareness of the importance of adequate brand protection and the risk of cybersquatting.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which coordinates the technical aspects of the internet, is currently processing 1930 applications for gTLD extensions. Moving away from the traditional and already-available .com, .biz, .info and .net, gTLDs proposed include .music, .Nike, .swiss and .Africa.  

New generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) promise to expand the domain name system (DNS) and change the Internet forever. Businesses and individuals are being given the opportunity to apply for their own gTLD. ICANN's new gTLDs will allow companies, governments and other organizations to register unique strings. Any company registering its own TLD will, in one way or another, be responsible for every other URL that pops up using the new name and would be responsible for the organization, security and infrastructure of the domain name.

While the expansion in gTLDs offers the possibility of establishing domains with distinct identity for legal entities and individuals alike, such expansion presents also a greater risk of registration abuse. This includes cybersquatting, front-running, consumer deception and false suggestions of affiliations.

Since a domain name may not be registered twice as it must be unique, the expansion of gTLDs is set to re-fuel the domain aftermarket, where popular or SEO-friendly domain names registered are re-sold. As a result, it is advised that business owners seek advice to secure that their IP strategies are well-protected. 

A trademark includes any word, name, symbol, or device, used, or intended to be used, in commerce to identify and distinguish the goods of one manufacturer or seller from goods manufactured or sold by others. In short, a trademark is a brand name and reflects a business' own identity. The protection of trademarks does not merely benefit the business but consumers also reap the benefits when trademarks are protected since by preventing anyone but the actual right holder from labeling goods with the mark, one prevents consumers getting cheated by imitations. 

With the inception of the Internet and the use of character strings that point to a certain web space (domain names), trademark owners have been presented with a whole new set of problems and issues that need to be faced. It is frequently too expensive to register every variation of a trademark in every top level domain. Hence, brand owners  must make sure that infringers do not register domain names that are either the same as or confusingly similar to their own protected brand. With the new top level domains earmarked for 2013, new issues will be faced by such trademark owners. Therefore one has to make sure that they have a solid trademark strategy in place. 

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