Time is running out to apply for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers’ (ICANN) new program to dramatically expand the number of generic top-level domain names (gTLDs). This controversial program has the potential to add countless new names to the currently available top-level domains (like .COM and .NET) by allowing companies to apply to serve as registries for a virtually unlimited list of new gTLDs. If your company or client is considering applying for a new gTLD, the time to act is now. Though the application period does not end until April 12, 2012, potential applicants must register with ICANN’s TLD Application System by Thursday, March 29, 2012. Tens days left. That doesn’t leave a lot of time to weigh the pros and cons of the new scheme….
To read more background on the new gTLD launch, please click here and here. Though ICANN has “reaffirmed” its commitment to open a second application period for new gTLDs, it has yet to announce when such a second window would be opened.
Meanwhile, the number of cybersquatting/domain name disputes continues to rise. The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) announced that, in 2011, trademark holders filed a record 2,764 cybersquatting cases with the organization. Will the launch of new gTLDs reverse this trend or simply provide new fertile ground for domain name disputes? Only time will tell.