Put your thinking caps on, review the ICANN list, and get started – NOW is the time.

We have previously alerted our readers to the impending arrival of new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) on the Internet and the opportunities that their arrival will be opening up. And now the time has come – or, at least, it has come for some new domains, with others to be rolling out periodically for the foreseeable future.

Anyone contemplating expansion of their Internet presence into any of the new gTLDs should already be regularly reviewing the website of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). That’s where ICANN lists the opening and closing dates for the various filing periods (e.g., Sunrise, Landrush, etc.) for each new gTLD as it becomes available.

We’ll be keeping an eye on the ICANN list as well, looking for new gTLDs that, in our purely subjective view, might have some particular interest for our readers. When those pop onto our radar screen, we’ll post about them here. This will be an ongoing process. There are still more than 1,500 gTLD applications working their way through the ICANN system, so attention must be paid to periodic developments for months, if not years, to come. 

This post – and the ones to follow – aren’t intended to substitute for readers doing their own research. Far from it. Rather, it’s one way for us to continue to poke, prod, cajole, wheedle, nudge and otherwise encourage folks to devote a bit of their own time and attention to the new gTLD universe and the potential it holds for them. Important disclaimer: We will not be reporting on each and every new gTLD that comes down the pike; rather, just the ones that catch our eye for one reason or another. So any reader looking for the perfect gTLD(s) should not be relying on us here to post all available gTLDs. (And we should probably also remind everybody to take a look at the Disclaimer that applies to all posts here on CommLawBlog.com.)

The problem for us here in the CommLawBlog bunker is that we don’t know all (or, in some cases, even any) of the promotional terms you use for your operations – and whether or not you’ve formally registered any of them as federal trademarks. We also don’t know what different directions you might want to go in, Internet-wise. So in identifying even our abbreviated list, we’re using our imaginations to come up with the types of domain names our readers might want to use. Our hope is to get you to bring your imaginations to bear on how you might be able take advantage of any of the new gTLDs as they become available.  (Note that we may also be able to provide individualized monitoring services for clients in some circumstances; give us a shout if you’re interested in exploring options along those lines.)

So please take a look at our preliminary, abbreviated list here (which reflects new gTLDs posted by ICANN through May 9), and also the complete ICANN list here, and put your thinking caps on. To get you started, here are a couple of thoughts we had.

.rocks”, “.country”, “.farm” – These are total chip shots. Any rock radio station should see the potential of having “[YOUR CALL SIGN].rocks” as a domain name. Ditto for country stations and “[YOUR CALL SIGN].country”. “.farm” could easily be used for a station with agriculture-focused programming. You could also use promotional identifiers (e.g., “DC101”) instead of your call sign there, too.

[Timing considerations:If the term you’d like to use is a registered trademark, bear in mind that the “Sunrise” period – during which registered trademark holders who have placed their marks in ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse get a head start on the Great Unwashed – is set to close in June for “.rocks” and “.country”. The Sunrise period for “.farm” has already closed, but look for it to be generally available shortly.]

.camera”, “.photos”, “.pics” – Many businesses, including broadcast stations, encourage the submission of photos to their websites to help in creating a bond between the businesses and their customers or audience. They might be interested in “.camera”, “.photos” or “.pics” for an easily identifiable domain name to which pictures can be sent and on which they can be easily accessed. (Think “[YOUR CALL SIGN].pics”, for instance.)

[Timing considerations: The Sunrise period for all three of these has passed, so they are open and available right now!]

Geographic domains – Do you have a station in New York City? Think about “.nyc”. It’s now in Sunrise and available to trademark owners who have registered their marks with the ICANN Trademark Clearinghouse. “.LONDON” (also currently in Sunrise), “.BERLIN”, “.tokyo” and “.MOSCOW” are all coming online, too.

.buzz”, “.webcam” – If you’re a broadcast station and you want to establish (or reinforce) the fact that you’re on top of what’s happening, how about “.buzz” – as in “TheCommLawBlog.buzz”? Do you try to attract eyeballs with (or to) your own webcam? You might think about “.webcam”.

[Timing considerations: “.buzz” is open for general registration through some (but not necessarily all) registrars; the “.webcam” Sunrise period is set to close May 30.]

.media”, “.report”, “.review”, “.technology”, “.today”, “.community” – Any of these could provide useful domain names to associate with specific types or programming already on the air. Looking for something more whimsical with image-building potential? How about “.ninja” or “.guru” or (probably for the edgier among you) “.wtf” or “.sexy”?

[Timing considerations: “.media”, “.report”, “.community” and “.wtf” are all currently in their respective Sunrise periods. “.guru”, “.sexy”, “.technology” and “.today” are all available, well, today.]

You get the idea.

And these are just the obvious ones that even a lawyer/blogger could identify without breaking a sweat. There are a couple hundred more domains already available to work with, and nearly 2,000 more on the way. It’s a tremendous opportunity to look ahead, think creatively – both inside and outside the box – and start planning the ways you will interact with Internet users (i.e., just about everybody) in the coming years.

So take some time to go through both our subjectively abridged list or the complete ICANN list of new gTLDs that have already made it through the application process, or the unabridged master ICANN list which includes nearly 2,000 proposed domains still under consideration. Highlight the domains that might work for you and make note of their respective roll-out dates. (Helpful tip: By clicking on any of the domain names on the ICANN site, you can get a drop-down menu of any relevant documents – such as detailed start-up policies – laying out terms and conditions applicable to that particular domain.)

Once you’ve assembled a list, sit down with the other Big Thinkers in your company (that could include management, promotions folks, creative staff, whoever might be able to contribute usefully to a vision of your future operations), put your thinking caps on and get going. You might also want to call on our gTLD Team (identified below) for suggestions and guidance. Team members have been hip-deep in the gTLD application process and they have already pored over the full list of new gTLDs that have been applied for. Not only can our gTLD Team help in identifying new gTLDs useful for your purposes, but they can also help navigate the registration process. For anyone looking to act quickly, that may be crucial: not all new gTLDs are available through all registrars.

You should also bear in mind that there’s a defensive component here as well. Even if you yourself might not want a particular domain name based on, say, a promotional phrase you use heavily, consider whether you would be happy if your competitor down the street – or anybody else, for that matter – were to register a domain name based on that phrase.

It’s especially important to focus sooner rather than later if you’ve got a registered trademark that you’d like to use in a domain name. As we have previously advised, there are a number of ways by which registered trademark holders can get a leg up in the domain name registration process, so if you’ve paid attention to our previous suggestions and you’ve registered one or more marks, now’s the time to take advantage of them.

And if you’ve got any questions about the new domain name process and how it all works, don’t hesitate to let us know. Again, if you need help picking, and/or registering domain names in, any of the new gTLDs, let us know (we’re monitoring registrations). Our gTLD Team includes Kathy Kleiman (who participated in the drafting of numerous New gTLD rules), Bob Butler, Kevin Goldberg, Davina Sashkin, and Jon Markman.