The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
(ICANN) has announced that it expects the expansion of generic top
level domains (gTLDs) to be ready in 2011. It is now up to
trademark owners to decide whether to register and operate their
own top-level domain or to saddle up to fight others from
registering top-level domains that might infringe their
From May 2011 it will probably be possible for trademark owners
to apply to operate their own top-level domains, e.g.,
.bechbruun for the lawfirm Bech-Bruun. However, the fees and costs
involved in the operation and registration of the top-level domain
could potentially amount to as much as US $ 2 million. For this
reason it will probably only be very large and globally based
companies, who will apply to get a top-level domain.
For those companies whose economy cannot justify such expenses
the relevant alternative is to protect their trademarks against
infringement from others. To do so trademark owners will have to
watch the applications which will be publicly available on
ICANN's website. Then trademark owners can file an objection
against a gTLD that infringes their rights. Objections will be
resolved before ICANN approves a gTLD application.
In order for trademark owners to monitor any potential
infringement it will be of great importance to know when to check
the ICANN website. The exact calendar date has not yet been set,
but a relative timeline has been made, and the final dates will
probably not differ that much from this outline. It is likely that
the application period will run from early May and then for the
objection period to run in the second half of 2011.
There are four grounds for which you can file a formal
objection, whereas the second called Legal Rights Objection is
probably the most interesting for trademark owners. ICANN has made
it clear that this objection is to protect trademark rights. The
protection includes the prohibition of the applied-for gTLD to take
advantage of the objector's reputation or mark, or the chance
of confusion with the objector's mark. However, some trademark
owners will probably wait to file an objection until the
application has passed ICANN's own Initial Evaluation.
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