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Nearly 2,000 Seek to Register Top-Level Domains

June 14, 2012

Sally Abel, Chair of the Trademark Group with Fenwick & West, was quoted in the National Law Journal article, "Nearly 2,000 Seek to Register Top-Level Domains; '.app' Leads the Pack."

On June 13, 2012, Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that they had received almost 2,000 applications for their new top-level domains, expanding on traditional domains such as .com and .org.  The expansion of these top-level domains has raised concern regarding disputes over control of generic top-level domain names, as well as concern that this will increase the amount of policing brand owners must do to protect their trademarks.

Many of the new top-level domain names will die a natural death, but not all, said Sally Abel, the trademark group chairwoman at Fenwick & West. Eventually, the new registration process will "exponentially increase" the second-level domain names that brand owners need to police, or Web sites associated with new domains like ".inc," Abel said. "For a trademark owner that's been policing its brand, there's just going to be hundreds more [places] where their trademark might show up as a second-level domain."

ICANN is planning a trademark clearinghouse, which registries would need to consult before awarding second-level domains, but "it's not clear how effective that would be in preventing infringement," Abel said.