The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) announced that over 500 new generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”) have now been introduced into the Internet. The milestone 500th gTLD was .NTT, which represents Nippon Telegraph and Telephone.
New domains are rolling out at an average of one per day. ICANN has described its current process as the “Internet’s largest expansion ever”. Some of the new extensions include
- industry segments or designations, such as .fashion, .finance, .organic, .tech, .realty and .expert
- geographic locations, such as .nyc, .london, and .paris
- brands, such as .bmw, .hermes, and .marriot,
Clearly the new extensions present both an opportunity and a risk to trademark owners, who now have new channels to target customers but also new battles to protect their brands against infringement or combat shakedowns by cyber squatters. For instance, the newly released gTLD .expert is a place where anyone who holds themselves out in this regard would likely want to exist. Appearing at such a gTLD should improve search results for those offering their expert services in a particular field, as noted in a registered domain name witness.expert. But the question for the marketing department is one of cost vs. benefit, as there are only so many places where one firm can economically exist.