Matthieu Bourgeois

Matthieu Bourgeois

Due to the saturation of the number of registered domain names and to better organise the Internet, ICANN [1] has decided to create three new types of extensions (actually, top level domain or TLD):

- "geographical" extensions (paris, .london…);
- "generic" extensions corresponding to trademarks (.brand);
- "generic" extensions corresponding to a field of activity (eg .beauty, .book ...).

An "extension" is the last part of a domain name, for example ".com" or ".fr" ...

There are about 220 "geographic extensions", ie corresponding to a country (.fr for France, .uk for the United Kingdom ..), each of them being managed by a registration office in the country (AFNIC for the .fr), and about 20 "generic extensions”, corresponding to a general activity (.com for businesses , .org for organizations … ), each of them being managed by a registration office (Verisign for .com).

Possible simplifications

In theory, many benefits are expected from this opening, for example, portfolio rationalization of existing names (a new generic extension would allow to cease using certain domain names registered with different extensions), the valuation of intangible corporate assets (including sub-domain licenses).

Since June 2012, almost 2,000 requests for extensions have been recorded (Google, under the name Charleston Road Registry proposed about 100 new TLD such as .free, .book, .buy, .music; Amazon proposed 76 new TLD such as .deal, .music, .cloud, .game; Microsoft made 11 applications, mainly for its brands such as .office, .windows, .live, .bing ...).

Rat race for generic “extensions”

This category of generic “extensions” cause some difficulties because, contrary to current “extensions” that are managed by registration offices consisting in non-profit organisations (such as the AFNIC for. fr) or by neutral businesses, such as infrastructure providers disconnected from other economic sector (such as VERISIGN for the .com), ICANN has opened to any type of operator from the private sector, including companies holding stakes in the industry concerned by the “extensions”, the possibility to manage these new TLD registries.

Thus, in the beauty industry, the L’Oréal group has proposed, alongside with other companies, to manage new extensions such .beauty, .hair, .makeup, .skin and .salon.

However, the legitimate fear of other operators in the sector lies in the fact that the entity chosen to manage the new “extensions” would then be able to refuse to some competitors in the industry, in some cases, according to criteria that are not yet clear, the registration of domain names with the extensions. Several companies have therefore raised objections against some applicants for the management of these new “extensions”.

ICANN’s decision about these new extensions is expected to occur during the course of 2013.