If you spend any amount of time reading domain news you have probably heard of the new gTLDs set to be released by ICANN next year. (For those new to the industry, gTLD is short for Generic Top Level Domain, the extension that goes at the end of a domain name such as .com, .net and .org.) The prospect of hundreds of new extensions being added to the internet has many individuals and smaller companies concerned about protecting their brands and wondering what they should do.
The way I see it, it will really boil down to two things…..
One, are major advertisers going to put their dollars behind these new extensions? Will you see companies like Ford using “Ford.auto” on TV commercials to sell their cars, or are they going to stick with the .com? And two, how is Google really going factor these new gTLDs into their algorithms? Will they rank right up there with the .coms? I doubt it, but it will be a nice little test for the SEO guys who actually know what they’re doing.
Personally I think it’s just a way for the ICANN guys to line their pockets, but hey we’re all capitalists right? I also think it’s going to be confusing for the average person to remember all these different extensions. Plus people have been conditioned to default to the .com for 2 decades now and will probably continue to do so.
I shudder to think of the Trademark cases that are going to arise. The fashion retailer “Coach” just won $257 Million in a Trademark case and had over 537 domain names that were using their brand name seized and shut down. Can you imagine how many fruitcakes are going to try to register Coach.whatever? Yes, I understand that ICANN is going to “police” the Trademark situation, but it will be virtually impossible to catch everything. The ones who could possibly suffer will be the “little guy” or mom and pop sites who can’t afford buy up all the different extensions to protect their brand or aren’t big enough to “qualify” for “protection”.
ICANN says the new TLDs will “promote competition in the domain name market” and “pave the way for increased consumer choice by facilitating competition among registry service providers’. I could be wrong but I really just see this being hassle for everyone but them, and maybe a few slick SEO guys who will try to make a quick buck.
So what does this all mean for you? If you are a major brand ICANN says you can file for trademark rights protection but they’re going to shake you down for a hefty fee first. If you are a smaller brand I would hold on to my wallet for now and wait to see how this all plays out. If anything, this will just serve to strengthen the .com as an asset. Unless the major brands jump on board, and Google decides to index these new TLDs as if they were a .com, I don’t think there’s a reason to be overly concerned. Have we learned anything from the .co?
Till Next Time,
P.S. For those that are new to Domaining, I just added a Terminology page to this site for quick reference.