This year is bringing a major overhaul to the internet as the oldest and most basic form of user online navigation – top level domains (TLDs) – will have exciting new choices. Since the internet’s inception, large companies and small businesses alike relied on extensions like .com, .org, and .net. In just the past few months, a plethora of new generic top level domains like .app, .photo, .shoes, .support and more have launched, and a number of new extensions, such as .expert, .market, .business, .blue, .eat, .health, .DIY, .tour, .wine, .space (and MUCH more) are set to launch, creating a wonderful array of extremely targeted domain names.
Bringing these new extensions to the market is not a simple process. Already years in the making, this process includes a Sunrise and a Landrush period which is designed to make it fair for everyone in the market. ICANN, the organization that governs the internet, has begun this multistep process in order to protect trademark holders as well as give everyone else a fair chance at registering the domain names they desire.
Every new domain extension released must mandate a Sunrise period of at least 30 days, during which trademark holders will be given the chance to claim domain names that are associated with their trademarks. The general public will not be allowed to purchase or register any domain during this time. If multiple trademark holders seek the same domain name, a dispute will be filed & arbitrated OR the domain name will go to auction, ending up with the highest bidder.
The Landrush period is directly following the close of the Sunrise period. Although optional, this step is almost always utilized by new registries. This period is used to offer up premium domains and premium prices. Extremely generic, category specific, or popular terms (think Cars.com or Hotel.com) will be sold, but at prices that could put a dent in even large budgets.
General availability will follow the Landrush period and anyone in the general public will be able to purchase domain names from registrars. These custom domain names will be made available at sites like GoDaddy.com, Register.com, NetworkSolutions.com, and 1and1.com.
Here are a few tips to consider when navigating the influx of new domains:
1. The Early Bird Gets the Worm-
Thousands of new domain extensions could potentially be released in the next year, but not all of them will be relevant to your business, brand, or name. Check out this TLD launch dates link to keep track of when new extensions will be released and when their Sunrise & Landrush periods will take place.
2. Use the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH)-
Instead of committing a huge number of hours working to defend your trademark by registering hundreds of new extension options, use the Trademark Clearing house. Not only is this a mandatory step for participating in the Sunrise period, but it also will provide you with a notification should someone attempt to buy a domain that contains a mark you’re register for under ANY of the new extensions.
3. Utilize the Full Domain Name-
Up until the surge of new domain extensions, names and keywords to the left of the dot were the most important. Now, since the rules have changed, selecting domains requires thinking about both sides of the dot. Domains like Tennis.Shoes, Pittsburgh.Cafe, Health.Careers, and even Pet.Supply will now become available.
4. “Pre-Register” –
Many registrars are offering the ability to pre-register for new domains. While this is a great way to get a jump on the names you want before they are released to the public, it does not guarantee that you will end up with that domain. If another company or person has purchased the domain during the Sunrise or Landrush period, it will not be available by the time public purchase begins. Also, if someone else has “pre-registered’ for the same domain name through a different registrar, you may end up losing out if their registrar wins rights to the name first.
It is still a good idea to pre-register so you can put yourself first in line for the release date. This will also allow you to be informed about important dates or activity on your desired domain.
5. Understand the Value of Your Domain Name-
Although TLDs will not be as expensive as the more popular dotcoms, some generic terms may face extremely high market values, especially during the Sunrise or Landrush auctions. It’s best to determine what a specific domain name would be worth to you and your company should multiple parties become interested in the domain.