ICANN: Pre-registration of new gTLDs not possible

Domain owners are being advised against pre-registering for new domain names on the new gTLD program this year, as under ICANN rules, this is not actually allowed before the domains are released. Numerous sites have popped up recently offering businesses and individuals the opportunity to pre-register top level domain names which will soon become available under ICANN’s new gTLD program.

According to ICANN:

“ICANN does not accept reservations or pre-registrations of new gTLDs. ICANN also does not endorse any third parties to do so.”

This means that third-party companies are unable to guarantee that the domain will be available to you, even if you pay a fee. It is not possible to pre-register your brand name and whilst many websites claim that this is possible, you may find yourself disappointed if you attempt to do so.

What is the new gTLD program?

It’s an initiative that enables the introduction of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLD) such as .app, .web, .music, .brand and so on into the domain name space.

The new program is being introduced to promote competition within the industry, as well as ensure the security and stability of the internet as a whole. This will also allow for more consumer choice when it comes to registry service providers, affording companies, governments and communities the opportunity to operate a TLD registry of their choosing.

This is not the same as registering a domain name, which are generally second or third level domains. For example, “in a URL such as maps.google.com, "google" is a second-level name and "maps" is a third-level domain”. The application for a gTLD is more complex than registering a brand domain name and involves the operator of the gTLD to essentially run a piece of “visible internet infrastructure.”

Applications for registering a new gTLD closed some time ago and it’s now become apparent that many sites are claiming they can register a second or third level domain before the gTLD has been released.

How about my trademark or brand name?

It’s not possible to reserve or pre-register your trademark or brand with ICANN and therefore anyone else. However, for the protection of intellectual property under the new program you should see ICANN’s section 5.4.1 of the Applicant Guidebook for details.

So, that website you’ve seen claiming to enable you to “protect your brand name” or “reserve your gTLD now” are completely unable to guarantee that they are able to carry this out for you.

This means that the sites are misleading at best, or a complete scam at worst, and you should take special care when the sites claim to be able to do this for a fee. It bears repeating, ICANN allow no pre-registration of gTLDs.

What can I do to ensure my domain is available?

For the upcoming TDL releases, there are a number of online services that offer the opportunity for you to track a specific domain name using a “watchlist”. All that’s required is that you input the top level domain to track (such as .london) in order to receive regular updates on registration timelines.

Intrahost will be accepting orders for the new domains as soon as they become available and advise against pre-registration. In the meantime, you can order any existing domains from us.

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ICANN closes down three US domain name registrars

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has revoked the accreditation of 3 domain name registrars for various offences. South American Domains, Simply Named and Tahoe Domains are all based in the US and host 296, 298 and 231 top level domains respectively.

Under ICANN rules, the domains controlled by the three domain name registrars will be available for transfer to reliable third-party domain name registrars such as ourselves, Intrahost Ltd.

As with all things in business, this serves as a warning to do some due diligence on firms with which you have dealings on the Internet.

Don't be fooled by size either, last month Network Solutions, one of the biggest names in domain names and hosting admitted its ecommerce servers had been hacked. Only last year EstDomains was shutdown, by ICANN revoking their accreditation, and 281,000 domain names had to find new registrars.

Trademark cybersquatters to be locked out?

ICANN is considering creating a central database of trademark registrants to help them fend-off future domain name cybersquatters. The action is being prompted by the likelihood that ICANN will authorise up to 100 new domain name-suffixes within the next 12 months (e.g. .hotel .London etc).

Although trademark holders have always been given preference when a new TLD has been created - in order to avoid mass cybersquatting on the new top-level domain - the prospect of hundreds of new TLDs created in so short a period of time has worried trademark holders over the cost and time required to protect their trademarks. Each of the TLDs will have their own rules and regulations which will escalate the administrative time and cost beyond the mere registration process.

The database will attempt to help the holders by automatically preventing the registration of a trademark by anyone other than the trademark holder. This alleviates the need for the trademark holder to register in each new TLD to protect their rights.

It will not prevent someone else registering the trademark entirely, it will merely make them jump through a few hoops - for example, showing a legitimate use for the name. If RedRose is the trademark of a restaurant in Leeds, this would not stop a "RedRose.london" registration by a London-based hotel.

There is also the problem of conflicting trademarks to be solved: what happens when US and German trademark holders for their respective countries try to both register, for example, "Imperial.hotel"? Who will have precedence?