Massive Changes to the Internet Domain Name System

Are you ready for the changes that are coming to the internet domain name registry system?  If you do business on the internet, or if your online presence represents a significant aspect of your brand, then you better get ready.


After years of consultation and planning, ICANN will be introducing two major changes to the Top Level Domain (TLD) system currently in place.  TLDs are the .com, .net, and .org identifier that follows a domain name.  In addition to the most popular three, currently there are various country code TLDs and just 21 generic TLDs (.biz, .gov,. .edu, etc.).


The first change is the addition of non-Latin script characters.  This means that existing TLDs will now be available in Arabic, Greek, Cyrillic and various other scripts.


The second change is a major opening of the generic TLD range.  It is expected that industry specific TLDs such as .law and .computers will be introduced, as well as a plethora of other TLDs from every possible interest area imaginable.  Current expectations are that 500 new TLDs will be introduced as the change is rolled out in the next year.


As a brand owner and trade-mark holder (whether your rights are registered or common law), these changes demand your consideration.  It is currently estimated that 14% of web searchers are hi-jacked away from their legitimate search target into misleading typosquatting sites or other unauthorized websites.  The changes to the TLD system represent an exponential increase in the potential for identity theft, brand misappropriation and website fraud.  Maintaining the value of your brand online is about to get very complex.


The new system will bring with it new remedies that address takedown provisions and other dispute resolution procedures.  The remedies may be vastly different among the different registries however and dispute resolution models currently in place do not appear to favour rights-holders to the extent that might be desired.


If you have any questions about the new system or your online branding, please contact me as soon as possible.  This promises to be an interesting year for the internet.


Scott R. Young