The pros and cons of gTLDs
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The pros and cons of gTLDs

While many concerns remain about the proposed launch of unlimited new gTLDs, it is not too early for brand owners to think about what their strategy should be.

“While it seems like a lot to take on, it’s all very manageable,” according to Paul McGrady of Greenberg Traurig at a session yesterday. 

McGrady summarized the risks of staying out of gTLDs as well as the risks of getting involved. The most obvious downside to staying out of the first round of new gTLDs would be permanent exclusion from a domain registered by a competitor that covers a premium industry term.

He stressed that the only way to get involved in an auction over a generic term is to apply. “If you’re not in at the beginning you can’t be there at the end.”  Another danger is that a company CEO could see a rival business running a gTLD and wonder why his firm doesn’t have one. McGrady stressed the importance of making sure the top levels of a company are involved in the decision making: “The ‘no’ needs to come from the person who’s most likely to be upset.”

Getting involved has its own risks. Failure to restrict the registry properly during the application process could lead to unlimited cybersquatters registering in your domain. Applying for a gTLD is also expensive upfront and there is no guarantee of success.  Finally, it is not yet clear that consumers will move from .com to branded TLDs.

The rest of the session gave an update on the latest version of the draft Applicant Guidebook for gTLDs. Susan Anthony of the USPTO, an IP advisor to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which holds a seat on the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC), advised the audience to read ICANN’s April 15 statement clarifying its position on whether trademark use will need to be shown to use the various rights protection mechanisms.

She also said that there was still a lot of negotiating to be done between the GAC and ICANN ahead of the publication of the final Applicant Guidebook, which is scheduled for May 30, and next month’s ICANN meeting in Singapore. “Let’s just say we live in interesting times, and we can expect some very interesting decisions in the next couple of weeks.”

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