Key terms to know when exploring new gTLDs


A third party that registers and manages domain names on behalf of a registrant and/or may provide local presence and/or may be considered a Registrar.

Backend Registry Operator (BRO)

See Registry


A defensive measure that allows brand owners to block their trademark-related term across several TLDs.

Community-based TLD

A community-based gTLD is a gTLD that is operated for the benefit of a defined community consisting of a restricted population.

Country Code Top Level Domain (ccTLD)

Two letter domains, such as .uk (United Kingdom), .de (Germany) and .jp (Japan), are called Country Code Top Level Domains (ccTLDs) and correspond to a country, territory, or other geographic location.

For a full listing of the current ccTLDs, see IANA country code Top Level Domains


The process through which the root zone is edited to include a new TLD, and the management of domain name registrations under such TLD is turned over to the Registry operator.

Domain Name System (DNS)

The Domain Name System (DNS) helps users find their way around the Internet. Every computer on the Internet has a unique address - just like a telephone number - which is a rather complicated string of numbers. It is called its "IP address" (IP stands for "Internet Protocol"). IP Addresses are hard to remember. The DNS makes using the Internet easier by allowing a familiar string of letters (the "domain name") to be used instead of the arcane IP address. So instead of typing, you can type It is a "mnemonic" device that makes addresses easier to remember.

Dispute Resolution Provider (DRP)

ICANN plans to use independent Dispute Resolution Providers to resolve any disputes between an objector and applicant during the dispute resolution phase of the New gTLD application process. A gTLD application can be objected to on any of the following 4 criteria: 1) string confusion, 2) Existing Legal Rights, 3) Morality and Public Order, and 4) Community Objection.

DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC)

DNS security extensions, or DNSSEC, address the problem of DNS cache poisoning by providing a set of DNS extensions which provide origin authentication and integrity checks of DNS data. DNSSEC, however, is only truly effective if a particular TLD zone is DNS protected, and this requires implementation by registries. The Public Interest Registry, the registry for .org, is the first registry to implement DNSSEC.

Early Access Program (EAP)

Early Access Program (EAP) is a program ran by some registries, in lieu of the traditional landrush period, where premium domains are sold at higher costs, depending on the day of the program.


The individuals or organization(s) appointed by ICANN to perform review tasks within Initial Evaluation and Extended Evaluation under ICANN direction.

Extended Evaluation Period

The period that may follow the Initial Evaluation period, for eligible applications which do not pass the Initial Evaluation.

Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP)

The Extensible Provisioning Protocol (EPP) is protocol used by a Registry and Registrar to communicate domain name specific details between one another for the purpose of registering and maintaining domain names. There are two protocols in primary use, RRP (Registry Registrar Protocol) and EPP (Extensible Provisioning Protocol). EPP is in production with most gTLD Registry Operators with the exception of VeriSign. VeriSign has made a contractual commitment to migrate the .com and .net registry system to whichever protocol is adopted as a standard by the IETF community.

Generic Names Support Organization (GNSO)

The Generic Names Support Organization (GNSO) advises the ICANN Board on issues relating to generic top level domains. In August 2007, the GNSO provided 19 "recommendations" and 17 "implementation guidelines" to ICANN for the introduction of new gTLDs into the domain name. These recommendations and guidelines were approved by the ICANN Board in June 2008.

The GNSO is the body of 6 constituencies, as follows: the Commercial and Business constituency, the gTLD Registry constituency, the ISP constituency, the non-commercial constituency, the registrar's constituency, and the IP constituency (which represents brand owners).

Generic Top level Domain (gTLD)

Most TLDs with three or more characters are referred to as "generic" TLDs, or "gTLDs". They can be subdivided into two types, "unsponsored" TLDs (uTLDs) and "sponsored TLDs (sTLDs).

Generally speaking, unsponsored TLDs (including .com, .net, .org, .biz, and .info) operate under policies established by the global Internet community directly through the ICANN process, while sponsored TLDs (including .aero, .coop, .edu, .jobs, .mobi, and .museum) are specialized TLDs that have Sponsors representing the narrower community that is most affected by the TLD. The Sponsor carries out delegated policy-formulation responsibilities over many matters concerning the TLD.

For a full listing of the current gTLDs, see IANA Generic Top Level Domains.

Geographical Names Panel (GNP)

A panel of experts charged by ICANN with reviewing applied-for TLD strings that relate to geographical names.

Initial Evaluation Period

The period during which ICANN will review an applied-for gTLD string, an applicant’s technical and financial capabilities, and an applicant’s proposed registry services.

Internationalized Domain Name (IDN)

An Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) is an Internet domain name that contains one or more non-ASCII characters. Such domain names could contain letters with diacritics, as required by many non-English languages, or characters from non-Latin scripts such as Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese or Hindi.

It is expected that the new gTLD process will include applications for new IDNs.

Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA)

The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) organization was originally tasked with responsibility for IP address space assignment, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management and root server system management prior to ICANN. IANA is now limited to performing the technical delegation of TLDs and address space and managing protocol parameter assignments under ICANN.

Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is an internationally organized, non-profit corporation that has responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top Level Domain name system management, and root server system management functions.

As a private-public partnership, ICANN is dedicated to preserving the operational stability of the Internet; to promoting competition; to achieving broad representation of global Internet communities; and to developing policy appropriate to its mission through bottom-up, consensus-based processes.


The period of time between Sunrise and Open registration where registration becomes open to the public, normally for an increased fee.

Legal Rights Objection

An objection on the grounds that the applied-for gTLD string infringes existing legal rights of the objector.

Morality and Public Order Objection

An objection made on the grounds that the applied-for gTLD string is contrary to generally accepted legal norms of morality and public order that are recognized under international principles of law.


A formal objection filed with a Dispute Resolution Service Provider in accordance with that provider’s procedures.


One or more persons or entities that have filed a formal objection against a new gTLD application with the appropriate DRSP.

Open TLD

An open TLD can be used for any purpose consistent with the requirements of the application and evaluation criteria, and with the registry agreement. An open TLD may or may not have a formal relationship with an exclusive registrant or user population. It may or may not employ eligibility or use restrictions.

Open Registration

The period of time in which a Registry Operator opens registration of domain names in its TLDs to all eligible registrants (referred to as ‘Open Registration’ or ‘General Availability’).

Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedure (PDDRP)

Provides rights holders with the ability to file complaints against registries who have acted in bad faith with the intent to profit from the systematic registration of infringing domains at the second level (to the left of the “dot”).

Pre-delegation Test

A technical test and other steps required of applicants before delegation of the applied-for gTLD string into the root zone.

Premium Domain Names

Domains that are sold at a higher price than ‘standard’ domain names.

Primary Contact

The person named by the applicant as the main contact for the application, and having authority to execute decisions concerning the application.


Registrants are individuals, including individuals representing corporations, who register domain names through registrars. The registrant is required to enter a registration contract with the registrar, which sets forth the terms under which the registration is accepted and will be maintained.


Domain names are registered through many different companies known as Registrars. MarkMonitor, for example, is an ICANN-accredited registrar with an exclusive focus on corporate domain portfolios. A complete listing of registrars is in the Accredited Registrar Directory.

A registrar asks individuals, or "registrants", various contact and technical information that makes up the registration. The registrar maintains records of the contact information and submits the technical information to a central directory known as the "registry." The registry provides other computers on the Internet the information necessary to send the registrant email or to find the registrant's website.


The Registry is the authoritative, master database of all domain names registered in each Top Level Domain. The registry operator keeps the master database and also generates the Zone File which allows computers to route Internet traffic to and from top level domains anywhere in the world. Internet users don't interact directly with the registry operator; users can register names in TLDs by using an ICANN-Accredited Registrar.

Registry Agreement

The agreement executed between ICANN and successful gTLD applicants, which appears in draft form at

Registry Operator

The entity entering into the Registry Agreement with ICANN, responsible for setting up and maintaining the operation of the registry.

Registry Restriction Dispute Resolution Procedure (RRDRP)

A complaint procedure for community-based gTLDs. The complainant must prove that the TLD operator violated the terms of the community-based restrictions in its agreement and that there is measureable harm to the complainant and the community named by the objector.

Reserved Domain Names

Domains that are held by the registry operator and not available to the general public. Per the proposed ICANN Registry agreement (, Registry Operators may activate up to 100 domains necessary for the “operation or the promotion of the TLD.”


The person or entity that maintains a set of rights to a certain piece of property.


The root is the list that TLDs exist within. The root exists above the TLDs and defines a given name space by identifying the nameservers that will answer authoritatively for a TLD. ICANN, for example, manages the root on which the great majority of Internet traffic flows. It is possible to have more than one root and in fact some alternate root servers do exist, but have not gained much popularity to date. The root that ICANN manages is centrally managed, but service of the root zone file is provided by a series of geographically and operationally diverse root servers.

Root Nameserver

A root nameserver is a DNS server that answers requests for the DNS root zone, and redirects requests for a particular TLD to that TLD's nameservers. Although any local implementation of DNS can implement its own private root nameservers, the term "root nameserver" is generally used to describe the thirteen well-known root nameservers that implement the root namespace domain for the Internet's official global implementation of the Domain Name System.

Shared Registration System (SRS)

The Shared Registration System (SRS) is the software provided by a registry to facilitate the registration of domain names, updates of nameservers, contact information and overall management of a registry. The SRS is used by registrars to connect to the registry.

A Sponsor is an organization to which is delegated some defined ongoing policy-formulation authority regarding the manner in which a particular sponsored TLD is operated. The sponsored TLD has a Charter, which defines the purpose for which the sponsored TLD has been created and will be operated. The Sponsor is responsible for developing policies on the delegated topics so that the TLD is operated for the benefit of a defined group of stakeholders, known as the Sponsored TLD Community, that are most directly interested in the operation of the TLD. The Sponsor also is responsible for selecting the registry operator and to varying degrees for establishing the roles played by registrars and their relationship with the registry operator. The Sponsor must exercise its delegated authority according to fairness standards and in a manner that is representative of the Sponsored TLD Community.

String Confusion Objection

An objection filed on the grounds that the applied-for gTLD string is confusingly similar to an existing TLD or to another applied-for gTLD.

String Contention

The scenario in which there is more than one qualified applicant for the same gTLD or for gTLDs that are so similar that detrimental user confusion would be the probable result if more than one were to be delegated to the root zone.

Sunrise Registration

Sunrise registration periods provide trademark holders in the Trademark Clearinghouse priority to register domains before they are available to the general public, assuming that all eligibility requirements are met.

Thick Registry

With a thick registry model, all information associated with registered entities, including both technical information (such as information needed to produce zone files) and social information (such as information needed to implement operational, business, or legal practices), is stored within the registry repository.

Thin Registry

With a thin registry model, only the operational data about each domain (such as information to produce zone files) is stored in the central registry database, while contact and billing information is maintained by the registrar sponsoring the domain name. Thus, in this model, the registry only knows the mapping from a domain name to a registrar as well as the associated nameservers. Whois services operated by the registry publish that mapping, while the registrant's identity is then published by the registrar.

Top Level Domain (TLD)

Top Level Domains (TLDs) are the names at the top of the DNS naming hierarchy. They appear in domain names as the string of letters following the last (rightmost) ".", such as "net" in "". The administrator for a TLD controls what second-level names are recognized in that TLD. The administrators of the "root domain" or "root zone" control what TLDs are recognized by the DNS. Generally speaking, two types of TLDs exist: generic TLDs (such as .com, .net, .edu) and country code TLDs (such as .jp, .de, and .cn).

Trademark Claims

During the first 90 days of General Registration, if a domain submitted for registration is an identical match to an authenticated trademark in the Trademark Clearinghouse, the Trademark Claims service will provide notification to the prospective registrant that the mark(s) is included in the Trademark Clearinghouse.

Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)

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.

Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP)

A policy for resolving disputes arising from alleged abusive registrations of domain names (for example, cybersquatting), allowing expedited administrative proceedings that a trademark rights holder initiates by filing a complaint with an approved dispute resolution service provider.

Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) System

The URS was designed to provide a cost-effective, expedited process to address issues of trademark infringement and abuse. Domains are suspended for the remainder of the registration term but will be available again for registration once the domain expires.


All domain name registries operate a Whois server for the purpose of providing information about domain names registered with them. In a Shared Registry System, where most information about a domain name is held by registrars, the registry's Whois server provides a referral to the registrars own Whois server, which provides more complete information about the domain name.

The Whois service contains registrant, administrative, billing and technical contact information provided by registrars for domain name registrations.

Zone File

A file on a nameserver that designates a domain name with all of its associated subdomains, IP addresses, and mail server. A zone file is also called a "DNS table."

Additional definitions can be found at:

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