There have been a number of developments on this topic since our last blog post. Since January, companies and organisations have been applying to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names (ICANN), to have almost any word, in any language, registered as a domain name or gTLD.
April 30th is an important date for all brand owners as the full list of domain name applications is due to be published that day. The number of applicants is expected to be at least 1,000. It will be interesting to see who has made an application.
Where an application has been made for a similar or identical domain name, it will be possible for brand owners to object through WIPO.It will also be important over the next few months for companies to consider registering their brands with ICANN’s Trade Mark Clearing House (TCH), which is an initiative being implemented by ICANN as part of the gTLD application programme to protect current trade marks. ICANN estimates that this will be operational by October 2012. The TCH will act as a central storehouse of trade mark information. Once an applicant attempts to register a gTLD that matches a trade mark registered with the TCH, they will receive a warning stating that the creation of the domain name may be considered cybersquatting. This system will be invaluable to brand owners of trade marks who, if registered in the TCH, will receive advance notification when someone tries to register a domain name that is identical to their trade mark.
Brand owners eagerly await publication of the list of applications. Hopefully further technical problems can be avoided - ICANN recently had to take the gTLD online application system offline for a few days after a technical glitch allowed some applicants to see the file and user names of other applicants. However, ICANN remains optimistic that the publication will go ahead as planned.