The Internet is about to become a more colorful place, and more stylish and enticing than .biz, .tv or even .xxx ever dreamed of. New gTLDs are “generic top-level domains” are scheduled to be released on the Internet in the third quarter of 2013. What does this mean? To start, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the United States’ non-profit that coordinates the technical aspects of the Internet, is currently reviewing nearly 2,000 new gTLD applications for extensions such as .music, .Nike, and .Africa. The Internet will also become increasingly multi-lingual because it opens up the gTLD system to non-Roman characters. The international community may soon encounter the .بيتك (Arabic for “home”) and .时尚 (Chinese for “fashion”) extensions. By way of comparison, there are currently only 22 gTLDs (e.g., .com, .org, .net, etc.), restricted to the Roman alphabet.

What does this mean for the design community? We can likely expect to see the .design gTLD as well as a variety of design-related extensions including .architect, .art, .build, .fashion, .green, .home, .homegoods, .hotel, .kitchen, .lighting, .photo, .photography, and .style. Eight companies with competing visions have applied for control over the .design extension. One Japanese applicant aspires “to foster a sense of professionalism and trust among design customers.” Another Canadian applicant purports to create “‘focal points’ around 11 key disciplines of design…intended to be communities of interest and commerce.” While it is too early to say who ICANN will ultimately accredit to run these new gTLD registries or whether the competing applicants will reach some sort of joint-venture settlement, the online design community will, for better or for worse, be affected.

What does this mean for brand owners and the creative industries? On one end, so as not to miss out on extended branding opportunities worldwide, they should take the time and energy to rethink their marketing strategies. The new Internet is expected to provide multi-lingual portals for online content. By way of example, those expanding into the Japanese market might hypothetically add a local dimension to their brand by using the “.コム” extension (Japanese for “.com”). Brand owners should also consider acquiring the relevant second-level domains (e.g., www.brand.design, www.brand.sale, etc.) when the new gTLDs are released. Although the potential options may seem overwhelming, even a small operation or freelance artist should consider investing in the development of a new gTLD website(s) in order to take advantage of the new Internet.

Extract taken from Core 77

Written by Stacy Wu
Stacy Wu is an associate attorney with the intellectual property law firm Ladas & Parry LLP. She holds a Juris Doctor from Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and a Masters degree in Media, Culture and Communication from New York University. She also studied film at Columbia University in the City of New York. Stacy’s practice includes trademark prosecution, maintenance, and enforcement as well as international domain name law across a variety of industries. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Ladas & Parry LLP or its clients.

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