ICANN invites the public to comment on new generic Top Level Domains matters

As part of the process of expanding the list of generic Top Level Domains, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has now invited public stakeholders to give their views and suggestions on the topic of “closed generic” Top Level Domain applications.

The provisions relating to the application process for generic strings is under debate and ICANN especially wants public comments to clarify the situation namely:

  • How to determine whether a string is generic and
  • Under which circumstances a particular Top Level Domain operator should be permitted to adopt so called “open” or “closed” registration policies.

ICANN will review comments submitted and make a summary and analysis that the New gTLD Program Committee of the Board of Directors will review, in addition to other research and analysis that are being made.

Last day for commenting on this matter will be March 7, 2013.

What is the difference between an “open” and “closed” registration policy?

An “open” registration policy means that there are no restrictions in order to limit registration to a certain type of registrant. This is e.g. how “.com” works today. There is furthermore no preregistration review of a domain name registration. If a domain name is available it can be registered by anyone. Disputes and/or public concerns are subject to post registration policies.

A “closed” registration policy means that there are certain criteria that you need to fulfil in order to be allowed to register a domain name. An example is the gTLD “.museum”, operated by Musedoma. A registrant must prove to be a Museum of some sort in order to be eligible for a domain name registration. under “.museum”.

Generic and Protected Terms

The question is if a gTLD which is a generic term should be allowed to be closed and thereby monopolized by the operating company. Should for instance Amazon be allowed to own the gTLD “.app” or Goodyear “.tires” and decide for themselves who can or cannot register a domain name there under? Some argue that such use would gravely impact competition in the market place and that it is clear that this is not in the best interest of the Internet development to allow it. Others claim that whoever pays for a Top Level Domain should be allowed to do whatever they want with it without interference of others.

When it comes to protected terms the question is also of interest. Should anyone be allowed to register a domain name under a term that is often protected in many jurisdictions. Should anyone be allowed to register a domain name under .doctor or .lawyer? Should any entity be allowed to register a domain name under .gmbh?

It remains to be seen what ICANN will conclude after the public comment period ends but one can note that Microsoft among others has clearly taken a position against closed generic string TLDs.

Given the fact that there is big investment made in the application process by many stakeholders and that other large corporations and governments oppose certain applications we expect ICANN to meet certain challenges when choosing path.

Zacco’s recommendations

  • If you want to know and/or if you want to submit your opinion and suggestions on the topic of “closed” generic Top Level Domains, please visit  ICANN:s homepage http://www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/closed-generic-05feb13-en.htm  and note that the last day for commenting will be March 7, 2013
  • Consider registering your (registered) trademarks with the so called "Trademark Clearing House" which will be created to make it easier for trademark holders to obtain information about domain name registrations that are identical to the mark in the new Top Level Domains and to be able to register domain names beforehand based on the trademark when needed. Please contact us for further assistance with this registration.


Zacco closely follows the development and will provide further information of this subject.

For questions on the new Top Level Domains or domain names in general, don’t hesitate to consult:

About Zacco
Zacco is a leading European consultancy within Intellectual Property with approx. 500 employees, many of whom are European Patent, Trademark and/or Design Attorneys. Zacco covers all technical and legal areas within intellectual property and assists clients with technical, legal and strategic advice, including handling of conflicts and litigation. In addition to assistance in protecting intellectual property rights, Zacco also offers its clients strategic advice aimed at increasing their competitive edge through a professional exploitation of these rights. Zacco has fourteen offices in five European countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and the Netherlands). Visit www.zacco.com for further information.