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.fi .ch .ag .se .no .net .eh .bw .cat



What comes after The d ot?

d n a r .b h c e m a G The new

g n i d n a r b anger in


.brand Window of opportunity From 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the top level domain name space allowing companies to apply for tailored top level domains. The first application period runs from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.

What is .brand?

.brand or generic top-level domain (gTLD) is the string of characters at the end of all Internet addresses.

Third Level Domain a.k.a. Sub-domain

Second Level Domain

Top Level Domain

With the opening of generic top-level domains .brand

Until recently, top-level domains were limited to a set

will become a company’s new Internet address. It will

of characters conforming to the basic Latin alphabet

no longer be necessary to add .com, .biz or .net as

(ISO 8859-1 [Latin-1]). This changed in 2009, when

.brand will replace the former ending.

ICANN initiated Internationalized Domain Names

(IDNs), which introduced top-level domains with a

Using brands as domain names is a d ­ ramatic

shift away from traditional geographic top level

richer character set to accommodate other localised

­domains, such as, .no, .fr, and sector

versions of the alphabet, such as Cyrillic or Arabic.

domains, such as .com, .org, .info, and so on.

What are the different types of .brand? Origins of .brand

In June 2011, ICANN approved the proposal for

Since the early days of the Internet, .com has been

the creation of additional gTLDs. Unlike previous

the dominant top-level domain. With close to 100

application rounds, there will be no limitations to the

million active domain names registered under .com

number of TLDs one company or organisation can

– representing approximately half of all domain

apply for.

names registered – available domain names are now

running short. As of 2012, the Internet Corporation

related to the number of TLDs to be integrated into

for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) will be

the system in any one year. This is currently limited

accepting applications for the creation of new gTLDs,

to 1,000 TLDs per year. ICANN expects the new

allowing companies to take ownership of branded

TLDs to fall into four categories1:

domains such as .bmw or .apple, or more generic but

• Brands, such as .canon, .facebook, .microsoft

relevant domains such as .drink or .sports.

• Communities, such as .green, .eus (relating to

A top-level domain is the highest level of the

Domain Name System (DNS). The function of the

The only restriction ICANN has announced is

the Basque language and culture), .gal (Galician language and culture)

DNS is to translate domain names into numbers

• Cities and regions, such as .nyc, .oslo, .paris

that identify devices on the Internet, acting like a

• Generic terms, such as .music, .movies, .sports

telephone directory.

There are currently two types of TLDs:

• Generic TLDs (gTLD): There are currently 22 gTLDs (.com, .net, .org etc.). • Country code TLDs (ccTLDs):

Generic top-level domains have the potential of ­creating new and innovative ways to make use of ­domain names, making them an active part of ­corporate branding strategies.

These are the two character ISO codes for each country (.no, .de, .fr etc.).

For a complete glossary of Internet terms, see:

1 These are examples only that are not representative of domain names that have or will be applied for. 2 The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a department of ICANN responsible for coordinating some of the key elements that keep the Internet running smoothly. Whilst the Internet is renowned for being a worldwide network free from central coordination, there is a technical need for some key parts of the Internet to be globally coordinated – and this coordination role is undertaken by IANA.

.info .eu



– an expensive vanity project or a marketing necessity? ICANN has said the new gTLDs allows for a more innovative Internet addressing system, but will companies seize the opportunity? CEO of Burson-Marsteller UK, Matt Carter, points out some of the potential benefits of a .brand address for companies. ICANN has said that “the expansion of the g ­ eneric

weight and authority to an address. Carter does not

top-level domains (gTLDs) will allow for more

disagree, but explains that applying for gTLD/.brand

­innovation, choice and change to the Internet’s ad-

addresses conveys a broader message.

dressing system, now represented by 21 gTLDs.”

Others have called the introduction of gTLDs a

to be bought by the biggest and most recognisable

game changer for branding. Yet, with an application

names. Therefore having a brand address will rap-

process of nearly a year and a one-off cost of USD

idly become a status symbol, a statement of suc-

185,000 and annual fees of USD 25,000, securing a

cess that encourages the user to be confident about

generic top level domain, or .brand, is no easy feat.

the reliability of the company. So a brand address

It is both expensive and time-consuming. So what

may bring an advantage to those companies for

are the benefits of securing a .brand address?

whom trust is essential and which rely on a strong

online presence, including those in e-commerce and

Matt Carter, CEO of Burson-Marsteller UK, has

“In the first instance brand addresses are likely

identified some significant benefits for large brands.

the financial and banking sectors.”

“A tailored gTLD represents an excellent opportunity

for brands to stand out, differentiate themselves and

defence for companies in their battle against online

reinforce significant online presence by having memo-

product imitators.

rable, relevant and marketable Internet addresses.”

Skeptics have argued that the .com and

have themselves become brand names, and add

He adds that gTLDs could provide an additional

“Anything that allows companies to better protect

their brand from counterfeiters is to be welcomed and brand addresses will be harder to spoof.”

.brand .brand


o .com .biz




He further argues that there are potential reputa-

tional advantages for those who are amongst the first to move over to a brand address.

“Obviously being a first-mover ensures that you

capture the names most appropriate for your company and your sector, giving you an advantage over your competitors. But the very fact of being a firstmover can provide a further proof point for those companies seeking to demonstrate that they are

Potential benefits .brand provides a single point of online presence • .brand makes it easier for customers to identify brands • .brand can improve SEO – a

success­ful and leaders in their field.”

brand or company’s search

engine rankings – making it easier

Carter argues that with digital and online branding

now a core part of any company’s marketing strategy,

to distinguish a brand from its

the decision over whether to apply for a brand address


is an important one requiring due consideration.

“In the past, the selection of domain names was

not a subject of much discussion. This ends with the era of gTLDs, moving these decisions firmly into the sphere of core communications strategy and messaging. Companies must ensure that their delibera-

• .brand helps companies strengthen online trademark and intellectual property rights • .brand reduces the risk of fraud and improves security • Companies control all domain

tions over whether to acquire a brand address cohere

names under their generic Top

with their current and planned marketing strategies,

Level Domain

leave open options for future positioning, enhance their company’s reputation and factor in expected behaviour of competitor firms.”

Source: CloudNames

I object! As companies decide if they should apply for a gTLD, many also weigh the risks of a competing business applying for their preferred .brand addresses. Nils Arne Grønlie of DLA Piper in Norway explains some of the mechanisms ICANN has put in place for rights protections. One executive director described the decision

application window. The process follows the rules

on whether to apply for a gTLD as a prisoner’s

of the new gTLD Dispute Resolution Procedure, and

dilemma; referring to the famous Nash-equilibrium.

for objections based on existing legal rights. This

His main concern was the risk of a competitor

is administered by the elected dispute resolution

applying for his company’s brand name, or worse,

service provider (DRSP), which is the Arbitration and

the main industry term. “Most companies, if not all,

Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property

have strategies in place to protect and enforce their

Organization (WIPO).

brands and trademarks,” says Nils Arne Grønlie,

a partner with international law firm DLA Piper in

application for the same or similar .brand is called a

Norway. “With the introduction of the new .brand

string contention situation. “It is also possible to file

domains, however, companies are questioning

an objection to such a string, and the chosen DRSP

if and how they can continue to protect their

for such objections is the International Centre for


Dispute Resolution,” Grønlie explains.

A situation where there is more than one qualified

According to Grønlie, companies have two

­options with respect to the new structure of Internet

Be aware vs. beware

addresses. They can take a proactive approach

“The rights protection mechanism for new gTLDs is

and apply for their .brand and/or a generic industry

largely objection based,” Grønlie says. As a point of

term; or choose a defensive strategy by opting not

departure, however, it is fair to assume that unique

to apply for a gTLD during this application window,

brands with good trade mark protection seem more

and rather object if their brand is threatened by

likely to succeed with their applications or objec-

other applicants for new gTLDs.

tions than companies with quasi-generic names or

those that share acronyms with other entities.

To protect the rights of non-applicant third

parties, ICANN has put in place an Objection Filing

“The world, with its plethora of string combina-

Period during which interested third parties will

tions and a giant mosaic of existing legal rights,

have the opportunity to object to proposed new

being the scene for this drama, will undoubtedly

gTLDs that infringe their rights. The proposed

lead to numerous interesting objections both with

gTLDs will be published shortly after the end of the

regard to string contention and existing legal rights,”

“The rights protection mechanism for new gTLDs is largely objection based”

“If you own the land – you set the rules.” Christian S. Svensen, in-house legal counsel of CloudNames

Nils Arne Grønlie, DLA Piper

“Applying for a .brand address is a unique opportunity to acquire

Grønlie believes. It is expected that most cases of

property on the Internet,” Svensen

string contention will be resolved through voluntary


agreement between applicants, but Grønlie points

out it is worth noting that one could end up in the

says, “is increased consumer

final contention resolution procedure, which is an

confidence, and overall security on


the site.” Today, all TLD domains are

subject to individual terms of use,

Grønlie’s advice to companies that consider

“The added bonus,” Svensen

applying is to equally consider the issues related

and therefore vulnerable to deletion,

to marketing, IT, legal, and financial. This should

transfer, redirecting and other

include questions related to the nature of the

threats. “It is probably fair to say

brand, the company’s ability to meet the financial

that brand owners do not have the

requirements and the ability to obtain the necessary

necessary control over local policies

IT resources. “Whatever a company’s decision, the

and practices to ensure that their

discussion on the new gTLDs, related opportunities

domain is not hijacked or misused,”

and risks should be a core strategic discussion in

he says and concludes: “If you own

the management groups of all large brands,” he

the land – you set the rules.”


Safety first The digital evolution and the transformation of retail have brought commerce from “bricks to clicks”, creating strong online brands, such as Amazon and eBay. But how do online security concerns obstruct consumer confidence? Figures from Eurostat show that 70% of all house-

Nygaard believes that the core of the problem is the

holds in the EU-27 have Internet access, and two

lack of responsibility, with the consumer carrying the

in five order goods or services over the Internet for

entire risk related to online purchasing. “Exposed

private use. According to Arne Nygaard, Professor of

to this entirely arbitrary system, ultimately it is the

Marketing and Director of the Center for Advanced

­consumer who has to deal with the consequences

Research in Retailing at the BI Norwegian School of

of malfunctioning e-commerce,” he explains and

­Management, e-commerce presents an increasing

continues, “It is highly problematic that online

challenge for global brands, in particular with regards

brands, such as eBay are unable to protect both

to building trust. “Forms of misrepresentation that

parties’ interest – the buyer’s and the seller’s –

arise from such third-party-­relations contribute to

during online transactions and thereby challenge the

undermining a company’s brand strategy,” he says,

integrity of a brand.”

and adds that building trust on the Internet is a key

element to successful branding.

a brand’s online reputation. Many websites are

currently being criticised for their inability to handle

“TLDs can generate a considerable advantage for building trust, enabling global consumer brands to better administer their online presence” Arne Nygaard, Professor for Marketing and Director of the Center for Advanced Research and Retailing at BI Norwegian School of Management

Nygaard believes these factors can compromise

customer requests and process orders. Additionally, there are plenty of examples where brands might not always be able to control who uses their name and consequently who represents their brand. “Fake Internet addresses and counterfeiters threaten to undermine consumer trust in the entire e-commerce system,” Nygaard warns.

Indeed, a recent Eurostat survey1 found that 49%

of all Internet users “reported having at least once avoided an activity on the Internet due to security concerns.” Providing personal information on social networking sites came first, with buying goods or services over the Internet and e-banking listed s­ econd and third as activities respondents had avoided.

Nygaard believes gTLDs can go some way in

According to Internet veteran and CEO of

helping brands counter this trend.

CloudNames, Rolf Larsen, a .brand domain has

important security advantages compared to .com.

“Securing generic TLDs can generate a consid-

erable advantage for building trust. This will enable

“This is particularly related to security protocols and

global consumer brands to better administer their

higher security for changes to the domains registered

online presence by clearly differentiating themselves

under a gTLD, such as product.brand. With a .brand

from third party sites,” he says.

registry, security protocols can be introduced

as they are developed. This is contrary to .com,

Ben Maynard, Managing Director and Technology

Practice Chair, Burson-Marsteller UK, agrees; “If you

where it may take years to introduce new security

can market yourself as a more trusted domain, with

measures. An exclusive name space will guarantee

a site that is easier to defend against phishing, cyber

that all registrations reflect its purpose, in addition

squatting and other challenges related to Internet

to complete control of deletions of registered names

security, you are likely to generate a significant advan-

and the distribution in the Domain Name System”

tage in e-commerce and financial services in particu-

Larsen concludes.

lar,” Maynard says.

1 Source:

The .brand process Although a source of opportunities, applying for gTLDs is a complex process. Below is a brief overview of the key steps a company must take when deciding to apply for a gTLD.

The application window is open from 12 January to 12 April 2012. ICANN has announced that there will be more opportunities to apply, and a second round of applications is expected within a year’s time.

Once a company or organisation has decided

to apply, the first step is to register with the ICANN TLD Application System (TAS). This is the official application submission and management system for the new gTLD programme. The registration includes several steps, including creating and completing an applicant profile and a legal review.

Costs There is a USD 5,000 fee to register with the TLD Application System (TAS). This fee will be credited towards the ICANN application fee of USD 185,000.

Once an applicant is awarded a gTLD and signs

the ICANN Registry Agreement, there are two further fees: (a) a fixed fee of USD 6,250 per calendar quarter; (b) and a transaction fee of USD 0.25 (yes, a quarter) per transaction. The latter does not apply until, and unless, more than 50,000 transactions have occurred in the TLD during any calendar quarter or any four calendar quarter period.

Applicants may also be required to pay additional

fees in certain cases where specialised process steps are applicable. ICANN also states that companies should expect to account for their own business startup costs. Applicants should also prepare for costs related to the set-up and operation of a comprehensive


technical infrastructure, once granted a gTLD.

A relevant option for many is to outsource the entire

operation. The costs are generally split between a set-up fee and annual fees. Companies offering these services, often also offer application process services.

Important dates •

12 January 2012: Application window opens

29 March 2012: Last day to register for access to the TLD Application System

12 April 2012: Application window closes

A complex process

There is also a list of reserved gTLD names that

Applying for a gTLD or .brand is a very different

are unavailable for general use, and geographical

process from applying for or purchasing a .com

names must meet additional requirements.

address or any other second level domain. If and when a company is granted a gTLD, they also need


to operate the registry for the new top-level domain

The list of domains applied for will be available for

which supports the Internet’s domain system.

review and complaint approximately two weeks

The registry becomes part of the Internet’s visible

after the application deadline. In case of disputes,

infrastructure. For this reason, ICANN requires

ICANN has put in place Dispute Resolution

applicants to demonstrate their operational,

Procedures (DRP). Complaints can be filed on four

technical and financial capabilities to prove

grounds: string confusion, legal rights, community

they can run a registry and comply with specific

or limited public interest.

requirements. Additionally, the application process requires applicants to provide a detailed plan for the

A successful application

launch and operation of the proposed gTLD.

If an application meets all criteria, has passed the

evaluation and selection processes, and passed

All submissions go through several steps as

evaluation panels review the applications. This can

through the objection processes and final approval,

take from nine to 20 months. Applicants should also

the applicant signs a registry agreement (also called

be prepared to answer additional questions from the

a New gTLD Agreement) with ICANN. The application

evaluation panels after the closing of the application

must then pass technical pre-delegation tests before

period. Alerts will be given via the TAS.

the new gTLD can be delegated to the root zone.

The criteria that an application is required to

Owners of the new gTLD then have 12 months to

meet in order to secure the requested gTLD are

complete and launch the domain. From then on, the

outlined in the Applicant Guidebook, compiled

company or organisation is entitled to create new

by ICANN. ICANN has also compiled a list of

domain names under the gTLD/.brand, such

restrictions. For example, an application for a string

as product.brand or ­customerservices.brand or

composed entirely of numbers will be rejected.


Source: The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Important websites The complete “New gTLD Applicant Guidebook”

ICANN’s information site for the new gTLDs

2 months

Straightforward application

Complex application

Approx. 9 month lifecycle

Approx. 20 month lifecycle

Administrative check

Administrative check Objection filing

5 months

Initial evaluation

Extended Evaluation

5 months

Dispute resolution

String contention

2.5 – 6 months

2 months

Initial evaluation

(may consist of Community Priority, Auction or Both)

Transition to delegation

Transition to delegation Source: New Generic Top Level Domains, Lifecycle Timelines, Section 1.1.3 Application Guidebook

Founded in 2011 by Internet veteran Rolf Larsen,

Application service

CloudNames ( provides

The CloudNames .brand setup includes writing

a turnkey solution for brand owners who wish to

the application for submission to ICANN. Where

own a top-level domain (TLD). Brand owners can

many providers only assist in creating the text for

outsource responsibilities and tasks related to

the technical part of the application, CloudNames

applying for and operating a TLD to CloudNames.

will write the entire application and submit it to

CloudNames offer gTLD name and validation/

ICANN, in accordance with the ICANN Applicant

search tool, self-service gTLD application service,

Guidebook. The CloudNames Application Service

and a Managed Registry Office. The company is

provides an easy to understand web form with

headquartered in Oslo and has presence in Europe,

online help for all relevant questions. This form

USA and Asia.

will only request information about the applicant’s company and brand. Answers for the other parts of

Outsource your application

the application will be generated by CloudNames’

By outsourcing the responsibilities and tasks related

software and team. The application includes the

to applying for and operating a TLD to CloudNames,

required data for the registry, the technical section

brand owners can concentrate on strengthening their

and the financial projection. CloudNames will

brands by effectively using their top-level domain.

complete these questions in the format required by

The CloudNames Application Service lets you

ICANN. Once the applying company has approved

complete your gTLD application in days, not months.

the final version of the application, CloudNames

will submit the application through ICANN’s online

CloudNames services include management of

the application process, technical registry operation,

interface on behalf of the applicant.

and managing the ICANN policy requirements and

other associated relationships falling under the

will monitor the application and communicate any

registry responsibilities. In addition, CloudNames

ongoing feedback. Once all applications are made

provides tools that make it easy for brand owners

public, CloudNames will provide a list of potential

to manage their domains and monitor their use.

string conflicts and dispute possibilities.

As ICANN assesses the application, CloudNames

CloudNames eliminates the need for companies to develop internal expertise.

For more information please contact:

CEO Rolf Larsen or

It is not necessary to use other service providers

in addition to CloudNames as the company operates

VP Sales and Marketing Linn Drivdal Mellbye

as your outsourced registry division. CloudNames’ services are only offered to brand owners who do

not wish to sell domain names under their .brand

address, and intends to use the gTLD for their own


Burson-Marsteller (,, established in 1953, is a leading global public relations and communications firm. It provides clients with strategic thinking and program execution across a full range of public relations, public affairs, reputation and crisis management, advertising and web-related strategies. The firm’s seamless worldwide network consists of 67 offices and 71 affiliate offices, together operating in 96 countries across six continents. Burson-Marsteller is a part of Young & Rubicam Brands, a subsidiary of WPP (NASDAQ: WPPGY), one of the world’s leading communications services networks.

DLA Piper ( is the world’s largest law firm in terms of both employees and turnover. In Norway, the company employs 60 lawyers and assistant lawyers (associates), advising clients on all practice areas. The firm has 76 offices in 30 countries throughout Asia Pacific, Europe, the Middle East and the US. It was recently ranked the number 1 law firm among the world’s leading global firms in the Law360 Global 20. The company is consistently ranked by The American Lawyer for its pro bono and corporate responsibility programs, donating nearly 156,000 hours valued at USD 75 millions worldwide last year.

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Cloudnames Brosjyre SCR  

brand, burson-marsteller

Cloudnames Brosjyre SCR  

brand, burson-marsteller