Corporate Domain Registration Practices in Light of New gTLDs

For years, corporate domain name administrators have scoffed at every new second-level and third-level ccTLD liberalization, and rightly so. Until recently, most had continued the practice of registering significant numbers of variations, misspellings and typo-squats.

While I have never encouraged the practice of registering every variation in every geography, as this becomes prohibitively expensive over time – most corporate portfolios have grown to the point where 90+ percent consist of defensive domain name registrations.

With what seems to be the imminent launch of hundreds of new TLDs as a result of ICANN‰Ûªs new initiative, companies appear to be saying enough is enough, and meaning it.

We‰Ûªve already seen significantly less uptake with each new round of TLDs and the numbers speak for themselves:

  • .INFO (introduced in 2001) 5,100,000 registrations
  • .BIZ (introduced in 2001) 2,000,000 registrations
  • .MOBI (introduced in 2005) 840,000 registrations
  • .ASIA (introduced in 2006) 210,000 registrations
  • .TEL (introduced in 2009) 200,000 registrations

What can we expect with the launch of hundreds of new TLDs?

While I can only speculate about the consumer market and their adoption of these new registries, there has been a growing trend among corporate domain name managers to only register exact matches in countries where business is conducted. Obviously this approach can leave corporations wide-open to squatters and speculators which is why so many companies are starting to ask themselves how they will manage the influx of anticipated abuse.

ICANN‰Ûªs Implementation Recommendation Team (IRT) has outlined a number of mechanisms to protect rights holders, and I am hopeful that they will be adopted.

But even with the protections provided by the IRT and the automated solutions that exist for identifying domain name abuse, with the launch of new gTLDs, domain name administrators will certainly be asked to do more with less.

More registrations, more management, more detection and more remediation of abuse will mean more work and greater expenses for corporations.

So how can this burden be alleviated?

The first step is to review existing registration policies and procedures in advance of the launch of new gTLDs, so that approaches for domain name registration and brand protection are agreed upon and understood by all stakeholders.

The second step is to actually implement any revisions to these policies and procedures in light of the new gTLDs, and to develop feedback mechanisms to evaluate whether the approach is meeting the corporation‰Ûªs online objectives. Companies should be willing to readjust their approaches as needed.

While this all sounds straightforward and simple, actually taking on this type of project can be an ordeal as there are often many competing interests, budget constraints and differing opinions. However, if companies can begin thinking about and addressing domain polices, procedures and protection now, the anticipated launch of new TLDs should be less complicated.