Internet domain names: the new gTLDs and the Trademark Clearinghouse

The upcoming launch of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) will mark one of the biggest shake-ups of the internet since its introduction. The new gTLD programme is set to transform the domain-name space worldwide by introducing new generic domain extensions to rival the traditional ‘.com’ with almost endless new possibilities.

The initiative has been met with alarm by trademark owners, who already face the challenge of protecting their brands against abuse by cyber squatters. The Trademark Clearinghouse is one of the mechanisms that has been put in place in response to these concerns. The objectives, practical aspects and limitations of the Clearinghouse are discussed in this briefing.

Since the genesis of the internet, the creation of new gTLDs (internationally applicable domain names, such as .com, .net and .org, as opposed to country-specific top-level strings such as .uk) has been restricted. There are currently 22 gTLDs in operation. So far, the restriction on the number of gTLDs has prevented the exponential growth of the domain-name system…

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