At its June 20, 2011, Board meeting in Singapore, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) set in motion sweeping Internet changes by approving a dramatic expansion of the number and availability of generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). Since that time, ICANN’s decision has been met with controversy and skepticism, including United States Congressional hearings.

Despite this reception, ICANN has moved forward with the gTLD expansion process, and absent a last-minute injunction or other delay, the application window for new gTLDs will open on January 12, 2012. Under the new program, the Top-Level Domain Name space (i.e., the letter strings following the “dot” in an Internet address) will allow for the registration of nearly any combination of letters, including brands or general terms, such as .bank or .lawyer. 

Organizations that wish to apply for a new gTLD will have until March 29, 2012 to formally reserve their right to do so, and completed applications must be submitted by April 12, 2012. In addition, ICANN has not yet announced any subsequent application periods beyond the current three-month window. Due to the magnitude of information that gTLD applicants are required to submit, organizations that wish to secure a specific gTLD must act quickly to prepare their applications.

For a copy of the previous Legal Update, the Mayer Brown gTLD White Paper, or advice regarding a gTLD application, please contact Michael D. Adams at +1 312 701 8713 or Richard M. Assmus at +1 312 701 8623.

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