ICANN Domain Name Decision Set to Change the Face of the Internet Forever

27 JUNE, LONDON - In a landmark decision last week in Singapore, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) - the body that governs Internet domain names - has agreed to stop restricting domain names to suffixes such as .com and .gov.  The new generic top-level domains (gTLD) programme will completely change the face of the Internet and the domain name system.

The revised timetable will see the application window open on 12 January 2012, and close on 12 April 2012 with the applications being published within 15 days.
David Taylor, a partner at Hogan Lovells International LLP, head of the firm's Domain Name Law Practice, and Intellectual Property Constituency representative to the ICANN GNSO Council, attended the ICANN conference in Singapore on 20 June 2011.

Having been heavily involved in the process itself and the creation of brand protection mechanisms for these new gTLDs, he commented:

"The ICANN Board has pulled the trigger of the starting gun on the new gTLD process and the race is on.  There are roughly two dozen gTLDs at present, but soon there will be hundreds and possibly thousands - for example, .LONDON, .SHOP, .BANK, .NIKE, .HITACHI, .CHOCOLATE)

"On the one hand this will mean increased costs for brand owners needing to protect their brands across an enlarged domain name space - which will inevitably lead to a significant shift in strategy for business and brand owners.

"On the other hand this also provides business and brand owners with a unique marketing opportunity to own their own .brand."

The process for the launch of new gTLDs has been ongoing since June 2008 when the board of ICANN gave their approval to the proposal to introduce new gTLDs.

Over the past three years, much work has gone into defining the new gTLD application process and the creation of the Applicant Guidebook (AGB) for new gTLDs.  The AGB is a guide for applicants describing the new gTLD program's requirements and evaluation processes.

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