Trademark Protection Dust-Up Obscures the Potential Value in New gTLDs

By John Berard
John Berard

As a member of ICANN's Business Constituency I have heard first-hand the perfectly appropriate criticisms from trademark holders of ICANN's roll-out of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). But while it may be OK for branded companies to wish they didn't have to deal with the matter, the dust that has been kicked up has obscured real value in the program.

The new gTLDs give us the chance to create global marketplaces based on communities of interest. Think about it. For a city promoting tourism, visitors no longer will need to troll thatcityhotel.com or thatcityrestaurant.net or thatcitytransit.ca. It can all be assembled at .thatcity. The metaphor is even more powerful for active, global communities that could rally around domains like .golf or .art or .music (yes, I know there is a group working on that one!).

There are plenty of mechanisms in place to deal with those who would seek to lever a brand they do not own. The community can agree to more if it chooses; the structure is in place for that, too.

But to paint the launch of a host of new gTLDs with a tar brush of trademark criticism is to ignore the chance to create new global markets based on communities of interest.

I am a believer in brands and community.

By John Berard, Founder, Credible Context & CEO, Vox Populi Registry

Related topics: Domain Names, ICANN, Internet Governance, New TLDs

Comments

Well, why not... Gerry  –  Feb 12, 2009 7:19 PM PST

Hi John.

I am a domainer but not by profession - although leaning in that direction.

I am perhaps one of the few that may actually be in agreement with you.

I no longer see this as a very dark day for domaining mainly because I do not think it is being marketed to domainers to begin with.

But, from the heat on some of the forums, you would think it is theirs to proclaim as their own.

Domainers are notorious for sitting on their stash of domains just waiting for that off chance of someone wanting to purchase.

I do see this as a unique opportunity to create markets within markets.

When I look at and consider the potential places and brands (and are not places a brand within itself?) this proposal could benefit, I like the prospects.

Nothing will happen overnight but in time, imagine a hypothetical Coca-Cola creating their own branded .coke domain. This is very forseeable and not a chance in Hades of a domainer getting in. If a domain like .coke was a closed for business use only, the promotional aspects are limitless and advertising savings could be tremendous.

When a new product is released, the sound byte may be…

See us at DietCoke dot com.

to

See us at Diet dot Coke.

The last word left with the listener is your product. That is exactly what you want to do.

The ramifications for further branding and entrenching a product are overwhelming. The mere elimination of a un-necessary word in speech and print changes the entire dynamics.

Does anyone really think that Coca-Cola would permit anyone to register sex.coke, snort.coke, poker.coke? Absolutely not. That is why I say a gbTLD (Global Brand TLD) for the most part would be just that; a protected and trademarked brand. IBM, Coke, Apple, eBay.

Yes, they are branded. But this would ensure no further dilution of their brand. Not to mention in time their very own dot brand would become the de facto way to connect to them and render any other TLD almost a non-factor in terms of traffic.

Imagine that everything does (will) be speech prompt. These new TLD's can serve as an invaluable bridge. Something as simple as programming your car audio system becomes obsolete as you say

Jazz music

Hip hop muzic

And that is how it is entered on the internet;

Jazz.music
HipHop.music

Suddenly the word and tld dot music has become a bridge to the entire internet and across all platforms of PC and mobile and automation. Music is in itself such a generic word in the English language and it almost seems natural that there must be a qualifier in front of music to distinguish what kind of music.

In other words, it fits and makes darn good sense.

That is the issue here with the proposed new TLD's - what fits and what makes sense.

In regards to the gcTLD's (global city) the same considerations apply.

In the long run, I would hope that ICANN carefully reviews each proposed domain on that criteria of it fits and makes sense. And for those proposed TLD's that have numerous applicants ICANN needs to consider who has the best foundation as well as marketing and advertising campaign. It is one thing to pony up $185K for a TLD. Now what.

This is not a business of release it and the traffic will come.

ICANN does not need any embarrassments and owes it to the consumer that there is a confidence level being considered. Confident that the new gcTLD and gbTLD are in the proper hands of control and not going to be set up as a means of phishing, defrauding, or scamming the public.

Yes, there needs to be this confidence level that these new registrars are going to be in control and are going to take measures to preserve and protect that consumer confidence.

And when all is said and done it is the consumer who will decide on the success. That decision will be evident based on the usage by the consumer. It will take some time to see this adoption on a massive scale - or not! We are in an age now of such rapid acceptance of trends and fads with the widespread use of social networking and microblogging sites. Word of news is virtually instant with the mobile space.

I only mention the words trend and fad for the lack of a better word as the thought of the Japanese Schoolgirl phenom comes to mind. The branding ability and acceptance that tweens and teens have can not be discredited. That in itself is a trend that is not likely to come to an end.

Admittedly, I first saw this as a money grab by TLD.

Yet now I see it as a definitive move into the 21st century. A move forward.

The internet is no longer a stationary platfor and only of written/typed words.

So let's move forward and become part of the evolving internet.