By now, most companies have begun the process to understand how the introduction of new gTLDs (Generic Top-Level Domains) will impact their respective businesses. Some companies are considering submitting applications to operate their own branded gTLDs. Many others are focused on how to address the anticipated launch of new gTLDs defensively, in terms of application objection filing and responding to abuse when the new extensions begin appearing in the root. Of course, we are optimistic that new policies will be adopted by ICANN to mitigate risks of brand abuse in the new gTLDs, based on ICANN’s recent creation of the IRT (Implementation Recommendation Team) which will work to develop and propose solutions to the overarching issue of trademark protection.
Along with the introduction of new gTLDs however, internationalized versions (IDNs) of .com and .net are expected. There is also a fast-track process underway to introduce a limited set of IDN ccTLDs (Country-Code Top-Level Domains). Because most of the focus to date has been on placed on Community-Based extensions and Open extensions, many companies are not yet fully aware of how these new IDN TLDs will also impact their current approach to registering, managing and monitoring domains.
Currently, all existing gTLDs allow for the registration of non-native character sets to the left of the dot (숭문.net or 中国首饰.com), but with the introduction of IDN TLDs, registrations containing the translation of .com or .net will also be possible (태영산업.회사 or海尔.康姆).
Clearly, this has the potential to exponentially increase the size of corporate domain portfolios and the potential for abuse, especially as world markets expand in size and in importance. Fortunately, Verisign has recently socialized an idea that would protect the rights of existing .com and .net domain owners by providing them exclusive rights to register existing domains across all newly introduced .com and .net IDN TLDs.
Although a formal commitment has not yet been made by Verisign to support this approach, this may now be the time to begin evaluating the registration of brands in .com and .net using native character sets to support important markets. In particular, companies should consider registering translations, transliterations, and transcriptions of their famous marks now to support current and planned global marketing efforts. By doing so, owners of these domains could potentially have exclusive rights to register in matching .com and .net IDN TLDs, when they become available.
We are hopeful that Verisign will adopt this policy when they submit their applications for the internationalized versions of .com and .net, and that others who also intend to offer internationalized TLDs and ccTLDs will follow suit as well.