New gTLD Registration Strategies: Preparing for the Inevitable

As we draw closer to the first new gTLD registry launch, many companies are beginning the arduous task of developing their new gTLD registration and blocking strategies. And after speaking with dozens of clients, I can tell you that the planned approaches are ranging from very minimal registration and blocking strategies for one or two core brands, all the way through to registrations of multiple brands in every single new gTLD registry.

Generally speaking, we are recommending that companies look to register only exact-matches of their core trademarks in registries where there is a close correlation between the brand and the TLD. For example, financial institutions should consider registering in TLDs such as .bank, .loan(s), and .mortgage. Identifying these kinds of close matches is easy, especially given that the number of open and restricted TLDs is just under 620.

More difficult to answer for most companies is where to register in non-Latin TLDs. When it comes to non-Latin registrations, we recommend that companies make best efforts to understand how brands are marketed internationally. If they are marketed using non-Latin characters, then consider registering in the new IDN (Internationalized Domain Names) TLDs assuming that there is a nexus between the brand and the TLD. However, we strongly discourage mixing character scripts and do not encourage registering Latin second-levels with non-Latin top-levels.

Companies are also having to make difficult decisions about whether it makes sense to register in any of the city or geo TLDs. In this situation, we ask companies to think about whether they are actively marketing or promoting their brands in these cities or regions.

In addition, there are certain of categories of registries which pose their own special risks including gripe (.wtf and .sucks), vice (.sex and .poker), corporate identifier (.inc and .gmbh) and charitable (.foundation and .charity) TLDs – and companies must determine their tolerance for risk when planning their registration and blocking strategies around these.

And finally, there are all of the truly generic new gTLD registries like .web, .blog and .news – and again there are difficult decisions to be made, as there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to developing a registration and blocking strategy.

At this point we are recommending that companies do their best to understand this new environment and that any strategy developed should provide general guidelines only. Actual registration and blocking decisions should take into account many factors which are not yet known, such as timing, price, special eligibility requirements or RPMs, distribution channels and marketing support.

And as I’ve mentioned multiple time before, trying to register every variation, typosquat or misspelling in this new environment as a method for protecting brands will be cost prohibitive.  Policing for abuse and taking action where it make sense will be key to identifying and addressing abuse.