Thursday, 31st October, 2013

First new gTLDs about to open

The first of several hundred new gTLDs are finally beginning to roll out. Now is the time, if you haven't already, to consider whether you want to apply for domain names in any of the hundreds of new domains. If so, you still have time to get a head start by registering with the Trademark Clearinghouse.

Several gTLD registries delegated to Donuts Inc. are expected to open any day now, including .clothing, .singles, and .holdings. Many are predicting an opening date for 10 or more domains before the end of October 2013, though no official announcement has yet been made. If predictions are right, these will be the first new gTLDs to become available to the public. Donuts Inc. has applied for more than 300 new gTLD registries, more than any other applicant.

Four new gTLDS - in Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic scripts - have already been cleared by ICANN to go live. These are not owned by Donuts Inc., but are the first of various non-Latin scripts that will gradually be introduced. The first four are the Arabic word for web or network, the Cyrillic words for online and website, and Chinese for game. But although they have been cleared by ICANN, these domains are not expected to be the first to go public.

Every new registry must run a Sunrise Period of at least 30 days, under ICANN's rules. Many registry owners - including Donuts - have indicated their Sunrise Periods will be 60 days long. During this time, only trade mark holders who have registered their marks with the Trademark Clearinghouse will be allowed to apply for new domains that match their marks. After that, there will be a "landrush" when the remaining domain names become available to the general public.

There is still time to record your trade mark in the Clearinghouse. The registration process usually takes two to three weeks, leaving you plenty of time to participate in Donuts' first round of Sunrise Periods. The Sunrise Period for the .kiwi domain is also expected to be among the first to open, although no fixed date has been set. Some Sunrise Periods will only be 30 days long, and may open on short notice, so we recommend trade mark owners act now to record their marks with the Clearinghouse.

As well as giving you priority to apply for new domain names, a Clearinghouse registration will also alert you if anyone registers a domain name matching your trade mark, for at least 60 days after the Sunrise Period ends. If someone is unfairly using your trade mark, you may challenge them through ICANN's dispute resolution services.

When the first Sunrise Period officially begins, trade mark owners who recorded their marks during the Clearinghouse's "early bird" period will have their registrations extended - for instance if you recorded your mark in March this year for a three-year period, those three years will be reset from the beginning of the first Sunrise Period.