ICANN opens the domain floodgates

US185k and name your gTLD

The peak international regulator for domain names has ICANN has approved a groundbreaking plan to increase the number of generic top-level domains (gTLDs) from the current 22 such as .com, to customizable ones which could include brand names, different languages or scripts.

Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.

During a special meeting in Singapore, the ICANN Board vote was 13 approving, 1 opposed, and 2 abstaining.

"ICANN has opened the internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind," said Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Executive Officer of ICANN.

Under the new provisions, internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, opening up internet opportunities in areas such as the Middle East which have been precluded from using domains in their own scripts.

It also opens the floodgates to commercial branding opportunities for companies.

Pricing and administration has yet to be fully detailed but the application fee for new gTLDs is US$185,000, and a list of criteria must be met before ICANN will allow a firm to have its own domain.

It will cost the company a further $25,000 annual fee to maintain the domain and the application form is understood to be a very thorough 360 pages.

ICANN will soon start a global campaign to explain the changes globally.

While domain name registrations notionally require an applicant to demonstrate that it has the right to a registration, it's a policy notoriously difficult and inconsistent in application. While Coca-Cola is simple and unique, other global brands are not.

Whether, for example, Microsoft or Pilkington Glass has a better right to register the .windows domain is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, small brands who have the misfortune to have a name collision with a big brand will probably be without recourse - unless they can spare the hundreds of thousands needed to compete on the big stage. ®

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