The ".com" era could be coming to an end, here are some of the questions you should ask yourself before embarking on the new gTLD purchase.
A gTLD is a generic-use top level domain extension (e.g. com, .org, .net, .gov, etc.) available to registrants for use regarding any purpose and overseen by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Most people have come to think of “.com” as the most credible gTLD to tie to our business-related website, but recently, buzz has been generated regarding the new gTLD application system, which launched in 2012.
The new gTLD system may allow for the registration of over 1,000 new gTLD’s to go into circulation. With the possibility of new gTLD’s, such as .books, .vegas, .tech, or .legal to choose from, many business owners, big and small, are wondering if they should invest in securing additional gTLD’s to protect their company’s online presence or possibly rely solely on a new gTLD that is particularly relevant to their practice and forego the .com altogether.
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What “dot” Is Best for Your Business?
Many factors should go into your decision to pursue the acquisition of a new gTLD, especially if you would like to use it as your primary website.
Some of the questions you should ask yourself before embarking on the new gTLD purchase may be:
- Will this drive customer’s to my business?
- Is this acquisition something that would help marketing efforts?
- Is the cost of acquiring the new gTLD less than the business revenue that may possibly be generated by the new gTLD?
- Will this acquisition help in patrolling my company’s brand or trademark?
If increasing consumer traffic to your business website is of the highest concern, then you and your marketing team should do your research, as many important studies have demonstrated consumers are, for the most part, unaware of the new gTLD’s available.
For example, a 2013 survey (led by Sedo.com) of 600 participants found that unawareness of the new gTLD’s, by both businesses and consumers alike, may be the biggest reason why our current “.com” system continues to host the most websites.
On the other hand, if part of the reason you would like to secure a new gTLD is because you fear other businesses may be interested in reaping rewards from your name or trademark by passing off a new gTLD as their own, then it may be best to acquire the appropriate gTLD’s that relate to your industry in an effort to actively police your mark.
This is something your marketing and legal department should discuss and weigh costs and trademark issues against.
Moving Forward and Acquiring a New gTLD
ICANN will release new gTLD’s in “batches” and post on their website the gTLD’s available for registration as batches are rolled out. If you already have a registered trademark, you are first in line for securing a new gTLD’s during the 60-day “Sunrise” period. During the sunrise period, a trademark holder is allowed the first chance to register a gTLD along with its mark.
For example, if you are an attorney, and would like to register your registered practice’s name, you would have the first go at “saperlaw.attorney” or if you are a clothing retailer, like Macy’s, you might consider registering “macys.clothes.” The 2-step Sunrise period registration process includes:
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1. Submitting your trademark record to the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)*
*By registering with the TMCH, your mark will be eligible to be registered as a domain name in every registry sunrise phase (some exceptions may apply)
*Registering with the TMCH provides you with access to their Claims service, which provides notice to possible registrants that a domain name they are seeking to register matches a Trademark Record of a Trademark Holder that has been verified by the TMCH.
2. Applying for your desired domain name within the 60-day Sunrise Period*
*Pricing: Each gTLD price can vary, and some names that may be more popular than others may go for a premium rate. Doing your due diligence is encouraged, as is using a watch-list tool to track what your desired domain name may cost.
If you do not have a registered trademark but have an interest in acquiring a domain name before the general availability phase, then there is some speculation that most registries will allow for a “landrush” period. During a landrush period, interested parties can apply for any name, including certain high-value names, that were not already registered during the sunrise period for a premium registration fee. For those seeking to keep costs down, the general availability period should be closely monitored to make sure the name you want is still available.
As with most business decisions, weighing the costs versus the benefits of acquiring a new gTLD should be a discussion to involve your various working groups. For now, .com is and appears to continue to be the most commonly used gTLD, but as we’ve seen in the cyber world, it is best to keep an open mind and encourage forward thinking.