A common rationale for applying for the new generic top-level domains from ICANN has been to protect the brand. But a Forrester Research analyst suggests the risk may not be that high.
strong opposition from government officials, industry trade groups and
companies, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has begun
the application process to expand the Domain Name System.
As of midnight UTC Jan. 12,
applicants were able request a generic top-level domain (gTLD) from ICANN. The
suffixes can be the company name, such as .Microsoft or .Pepsi, or a regular
word, such as .camera or .food. The application process consists of 50
questions, and applicants must respond with extensive business plans, financial
statements and technical documentation about how the name would be managed
along with a $185,000 nonrefundable application fee.
Many companies don't want to
go through the process of registering their brand as a gTLD, but are concerned
about "another applicant getting their string," Jeff Ernst, an
analyst with Forrester Research, wrote Jan. 10 on the company's blog for CMO
& Marketing Leadership Professionals. Of the 50 companies Ernst had talked
with, fewer than 15 had a strategic initiative in mind for gTLDs, he said.
"Don't get so stuck in
the hype about the risk of cybers-squatters or of someone else getting your
dot-brand," Ernst wrote.
Many companies have
defensively signed up for domains on other TLDs, such as Tuvalu's .tv, since
the small country grants a domain under that suffix to almost anyone in the
media business. Some companies and universities have registered for the newly
created .xxx domain just to be on the safe side and keep adult content from
appearing on Web search results for their names. Central Michigan University
purchased cmich.xxx, cmuchippewas.xxx, thisiscentral.xxx and is waiting on CentralMichiganUniversity.xxx.
"I'm not a big fan of
submitting a defensive registration," Ernst said, noting that it was
extremely unlikely that ICANN would grant someone else who didn't actually have
any IP rights to the brand the domain string. "Even if one could, no
squatter will spend $185,000 on it," he said.
Ernst also didn't think it
was necessary for organizations to think about registering the brand name on
other gTLDs. "To what extent will Coca-Cola be harmed if someone buys and
squats on coke.golf or coke.london, when consumers come to learn that the only
authentic Coke Web properties end in .coke?" Ernst wrote.
Under ICANN's rules, owners
will be required to regularly maintain the Website acquired through the new
URL. Many gTLD operators will also have to maintain a registry through which
other applicants can obtain a secondary domain. For example, other people may
apply to have a domain under the generic .food, such as organic.food or homecooked.food,
in the same way people can currently apply for addresses on other TLDs.