IP Summit: Atallah updates on the new gTLD programme


The president of ICANN's generic domains division, Akram Atallah, kicked off the final day of the PanEuropean IP Summit with an update on the new generic top-level domain (gTLD) programme.

There are 2 billion Internet users around the world today, Atallah said, which is a number he expects will double in the coming years. As demand for new domain names increases, it becomes more difficult for trademark owners to create a snappy domain for their brand, he added.

ICANN's new gTLD programme will be the largest ever expansion of the domain name system.

Currently, a trademark owner who wishes to register a .com domain will have to use up to 24 characters to find an available one, Atallah said, but an expansion of the number of gTLDs will provide new companies with a more competitive position and enable “all sorts of innovation”.

New safeguards will be built into the new gTLDs for security, including rights protection mechanisms such as the Trademark Clearinghouse and Uniform Rapid Suspension System, so brand owners are better protected against online trademark infringement.

The Trademark Clearinghouse, which allows trademark owners to register their marks in a centralised database, is an “unprecedented solution for a real life problem”, Atallah said.

It is “difficult to translate the world of trademarks to the Internet”, he said, though he said he wants to ensure that trademark owners have the same rights on the Internet as they have offline, “but not more”.

There are 22 gTLDs available at the moment, a number that will increase to more than 1,300. Atallah said he plans to continue moving applicants through the programme while ensuring they meet their commitments to rights holders.

“The only way to protect your marks is to promote them in the right place,” he said. “The new gTLD programme is the “best defence mechanism you can have”.

This article was first published on 11 December 2013 in World IP Review

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