asia j .info
.gs .travel .ar .nam .hr .bz .jobs .er .ie .ir .com .pe .tel .ua .org .bs .am .by .cc .km .coop .ai .cl
.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? this.example.com
.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 .co.uk, .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
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
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: http://www.iana.org/glossary2
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.
– 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-
rable, relevant and marketable Internet addresses.”
Skeptics have argued that the .com and .co.uk
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.”
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,
leave open options for future positioning, enhance their company’s reputation and factor in expected behaviour of competitor firms.”
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
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
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-
lar,” Maynard says.
1 Source: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/statistics_explained/index.php/Information_society_statistics
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 yearâ€™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 www.icann.org
Important websites The complete “New gTLD Applicant Guidebook” http://newgtlds.icann.org/applicants/agb
ICANN’s information site for the new gTLDs http://newgtlds.icann.org
Approx. 9 month lifecycle
Approx. 20 month lifecycle
Administrative check Objection filing
2.5 – 6 months
(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,
CloudNames (www.cloudnames.com) 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 (www.burson-marsteller.com, www.burson-marsteller.eu), 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 (www.dlapiper.com) 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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