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Posted on 03.27.2012

To Apply or Not to Apply? That is the Question.

There are several “opportunities” on the domain name front that are important for brand managers and trademark owners to consider, particularly for global consumer brands. To understand these opportunities, it’s necessary to unleash an entire new litany of acronyms, so brace yourself and here we go… First, you have to know that a TLD is a top-level domain, or the suffix to the right of the dot in your URL.  So for http://lovell.com, .com is the TLD. A brand TLD is a new creation, and the application window for a brand TLD or “dot brand” closes on March 29. As the name suggests, this will give brand owners the opportunity to purchase a TLD specific to their brand, such as .coke or .pepsi; and it will probably be only the major players like those examples that apply due to the hefty $185,000 application fee. For those brands that can afford the investment, proponents say brand TLDs will improve SEO (search engine optimization) results, and PC World magazine calls the availability of Brand TLDs one of the top five changes facing the Internet in 2012.

Applications are also currently being accepted for gTLDs, or generic TLDs, such as .bank or .pizza. Along with the equally steep $185,000 application fee plus ongoing registry operation costs, gTLDs come with substantial responsibility. Applying for a gTLD is applying to run the registry business for that name, just as Verisign is currently responsible for .com TLDs. Also currently up for grabs are names in a new category of sponsored TLDs, known as sTLDs. Familiar examples of sTLDs are .edu, reserved exclusively for U.S. post-secondary education establishments, and .gov, reserved for U.S. government sites at the federal, state and local levels. The new sTLD is .xxx, known as dot triple-X.  As you might expect, a dot triple-X will indicate a pornographic site. Sponsored by the IFFOR (International Foundation for Online Responsibility), registering as a dot triple-X is voluntary for providers of explicit content. Proponents say the dot triple-X sTLD will make it easier for parents and employers to block this entire category of websites. While it’s unclear how many providers of pornography are applying for their new sTLD, many colleges and businesses are busy snatching them up at the cost of $100 per year to proactively prevent others from doing so. Some registry periods include a sunrise period in which the owner of a trademark can block their trademark from being used by others. The sunrise period for dot triple-X domains has already closed, but trademark owners as well as anyone else can still register. This serves as a good reminder, however, that you must own the trademark registration for a trademark you may seek to protect in future sunrise periods. If you don’t already own your trademark registration, this may certainly be an investment in your brand worth considering. I’m sure I’ve barely scratched the surface of the TLD morass, but my head hurts from the new acronyms I’ve already absorbed. What’s your take on all this? Share your thoughts or teach me a new acronym!
Photo credit: http://bit.ly/GU1gtX

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