Now whether the first new gTLD registry will launch within the next few months or be delayed due to Advice from world governments remains to be seen. However, most companies with which I have spoken desperately need any extra time to prepare for the launch of new gTLDs.
So exactly, what should companies be doing to prepare for the launch of new gTLDs?
1. Identify and Submit Trademarks to the Trademark Clearinghouse
The Trademark Clearinghouse will serve as a central repository of authenticated trademark information. The information contained within the Trademark Clearinghouse will be used to enable Sunrise Registrations and Domain Name Blocking.
2. Review All New gTLD Applications
Last year, ICANN revealed the entire list of 1,930 applications, representing approximately 1,400 new TLDs, about half of which were closed registries. It is important for brand owners to familiarize themselves with the applications and begin thinking about how these new gTLDs will affect their domain management policies and brand protections strategies. There are quite a few resources on the web to facilitate this process, including the MarkMonitor New gTLD Application Database located here.
3. Rationalize Existing Domain Name Portfolios
Now, more than ever, is the time to take a hard look at defensive holdings and decide if any of your existing domain names are no longer needed. Domain traffic statistics should be considered and used to add domains where needed or drop domains with little or no traffic.
4. Revise and Implement Domain Management Policies
It is important to create enterprise-wide policies and procedures covering topics such as who can register domains, what should be registered and how those registrations will be used. Policies should also include where you want your domains to “point” as well as security measures like domain locking.
5. Ensure that Your Existing Registrar is Committed to Providing New gTLD Registration Services
Select a Registrar that is committed to providing registration services for all new gTLDs. Working with a single Registrar (as opposed to multiple Registrars) will help to ease some of this anticipated complexity.
6. Become Familiar with New Rights Protection Mechanisms
ICANN has adopted a number of new Rights Protection Mechanisms, including Trademark Claims, Sunrise Registrations, the URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension), the PDDRP (Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure) and the RRDRP.
7. Police for Abuse and Take Action Only When Appropriate
It’s important to monitor for potential problems in all new gTLD registrations for improper use of brands, trademarks and slogans. By monitoring domain registrations, companies can identify abuse and take immediate action where it makes sense.
8. Set Budgets Accordingly
Budgets will likely need to increase to take in account registration fees, Trademark Clearinghouse submission fees as well as additional costs for policing and remediating domain name abuse.
Of course, there are still many unknowns surrounding the launch of new gTLDs such as timing, costs, eligibility requirements, etc. That said, now is the time to prepare given the anticipated complexity expected.