What is a 'New gTLD'?

A "new gTLD" is a generic top-level domain that was approved by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) following an application process in 2012 to create alternatives to .com, .net, .org and other preexisting extensions.

As of this writing, the most popular new gTLDs are:

  • .xyz
  • .loan
  • .top
  • .club
  • .vip

New gTLD Application Process

According to ICANN's Applicant Guidebook, which set out the rules for the domain name expansion, the process was intended to "open up the top level of the Internet’s namespace to foster diversity, encourage competition, and enhance the utility of the DNS [domain name system]."

ICANN's program to expand the number of top-level domains attracted 1,930 applications, resulting in more than 1,200 new gTLDs as of this writing.

For the most part, the new gTLDs have failed to attract much attention -- or, at least, relatively few registrations. Only 35 of the new gTLDs have so far resulted in 100,000 or more registrations apiece, with the most popular one -- .xyz -- generating about 2.2 million registrations. By comparison, there are more than 131 million domain name registrations within the .com TLD.

(Some websites -- such as GigaLaw -- have transitioned from a traditional or legacy TLD to a new gTLD, as I wrote about in "GigaLaw.com is Now Giga.Law: Behind the Launch of a New Domain Name.")

Interestingly, some of the new gTLDs are not -- despite what the name may indicate -- generic. Hundreds of them are what are referred to as "dot brand" TLDs, such as .canon, .bmw, .hotmail, .ups, and many more that consist of a trademark owned by the registry operator. These new gTLDs are typically not open for general registration by anyone but instead are limited to specific uses determined by the trademark owner.

Trademark Concerns

New gTLDs were largely opposed by trademark owners and have created new challenges for them to protect their rights on the Internet. After the new gTLD applications were revealed in 2012, trademark owners had an opportunity to oppose specific ones under a detailed legal rights objection process.

In addition, ICANN's new gTLD program led to the creation of:

  • The Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), which allows trademark owners to register their marks, entitling them to participate in certain sunrise periods when new gTLDs are launched and to notify (but not block) certain domain name registrants. The TMCH has had limited impact on trademark owners' ability to police their rights online.
  • The Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS), which gives trademark owners an opportunity to file a complaint (for a fee) against the registrant of a domain name within a new gTLD and, if an examiner agrees that a three-part test has been satisfied, get a domain name temporarily suspended.

The popular Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP) also applies to the new gTLDs. This process -- though more expensive and time-consuming than the URS -- allows a trademark owner to obtain the transfer (not just the suspension) of a domain name, and it remains the leading way to combat cybersquatting.

In some domain name disputes -- under the URS as well as the UDRP -- the top-level domain may be relevant, especially if it forms part of the trademark at issue or is associated with the goods or services identified by the trademark.

More New gTLDs Coming?

There is widespread speculation that ICANN will create another application period that will lead to the creation of even more new ("newer"?!) gTLDs. However, the timing of such a process is unclear.