The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has begun their roll out of new Generic Top Level Domain Names (GTLDs).Whilst in the past generic domain name extensions were limited to .COM, .BIZ, .NET and the like, ICANN intends to release over 1000 new domain extensions which will include extensions such as .SHOP, .CLOTHING, and .SHOES.

The release of the new GTLDs is the culmination of a process commenced as far back as the year 2000 with the intention of expanding the current Domain Name Systems (DNS) so as to enhance competition, innovation and consumer choice on the Internet.

In order to protect to protect intellectual property rights, specifically those relating to trademarks, ICANN has introduced various right protection mechanisms which include mandatory pre-emptive right periods (known as “Sunrise” periods) wherein rights holders will be given the right of first refusal for new GTLDs domain names incorporating their brand names.

“The rights protection mechanisms will be administered by ICANN approved organisations such as the Trademark Clearinghouse who will verify all information relating to the rights holder’s registered trade mark and ensure that all details are correctly recorded in a centralised database,” explains Rob Richardson, candidate attorney, DM Kisch.

The introduction of the new GTLDs is set to change the face of the Internet and how users interact with online businesses which will require well thought-out pre-emptive strategies by all brands that have an online presence.