Companies and their TLDs - Lumis

While it doesn’t happen all the time, every now and then I find myself navigating to a webpage containing a unique TLD extension. However, I’m not speaking of the traditional gTLDs such as .Link, .Tech, .Win. What I’m talking about are the TLDs that a company has secured for their own brand.

Costs of Acquiring and Operating a .Brand TLD?

There are several costs involved with securing and operating a brand TLD. During the first round/window for .Brand applications in 2012, the cost of submitting Specification 13 to ICANN was $185,000 USD.

Once an application has successfully passed all the evaluation steps, the applicant is required to sign a Registry Agreement with ICANN. Under the agreement, there are two fees: (a) a fixed fee of $6,250 USD per calendar quarter; (b) and a transaction fee of $0.25 USD. The latter does not apply until and unless more than 50,000 transactions have occurred in the TLD during any calendar quarter or any four calendar quarter period. All relevant information regarding costs can be found on ICANN.

Is the $185,000 Application Fee Refundable if Unsuccessful?

A full refund of the application fee is not available. Any applicant that has not been successful has the option of withdrawing its application at the end of Initial Evaluation or Extended Evaluation for a partial refund.

So what is a .Brand TLD?

Unlike an ‘open’ or ‘generic’ TLD where the general public can register a domain with the preferred extension (i.e. .accountant), ‘brand’ TLDs are domain extensions applied for by companies/trademark holders in which the owning company has complete exclusivity to register domains. Some examples of .Brand TLDs include .Nike, .Google, .Alibaba, .NFL, etc. Authentic Web provides a list of brands that have applied for their .Brand TLD here.

Requirements to Apply for a .Brand TLD?

In order to be eligible to apply for a .Brand TLD, you must first hold a registered and active trademark for the extension in which you are applying.

Here are other listed requirements:

  • Only Registry Operator, its Affiliates
    or Trademark Licensees are registrants of domain names in the
    TLD and control the DNS records
    associated with domain names at
    any level in the TLD.
  • The TLD being applied for is not a
    currently existing Generic TLD (i.e.
    .accountant)
  • Registry Operator has provided
    ICANN with an accurate and
    complete copy of such trademark
    registration.

Trademark holders looking to apply for a .Brand TLD must apply via Specification 13. All information regarding applications for brand
TLDs can be found here.

Benefits of Owning a .Brand TLD.

There are several reasons in which 664 companies applied for a brand TLD in 2012. Of these, the first that comes to mind is the shorter, more memorable domain that can be created and utilized for a company brand. Think of maps.google.com VS maps.google, maps.google is inherently easier to remember and navigate too.

Brand awareness and navigation enhances as consumers are able to more easily access a company’s products or services – maps.google.

Companies can secure their virtual real estate online without the risk of trademark infringement – the .Brand TLD owner retains control of the Registry and can select who is able to utilize their extension.

A .Brand TLD is also a great way for marketing affiliates to interact with the product or service they are marketing. For instance, .Nike can provide one of its marketing affiliates with a specific .Nike domain (i.e. AthleticFootwear.nike) to not only allow ease of navigation to the Nike brand, it will also bring more brand credibility to the consumer.

CONCLUSION

All in all, I believe a company’s domain strategy and online positioning will play a big role in determining if a .Brand TLD makes sense. Please contact Lumis for more information or if you have any questions.