One of the new domain extensions (gTLDs) has caught your attention and you can’t wait to get your hands on it. The tentative release date is just around the corner, you’re all ready to buy, but is it really that simple?
Sadly no… The process for sales of new gTLDs is far from simple and your ability to purchase and the purchase price itself depends on factors such as whether the domain name you are looking to buy is trademarked or if the domain you want is considered a Premium Domain.
The sales period starts with the Sunrise period. This is a limited pre-sales phase and is mandatory for all new gTLDs. The Sunrise period is the time when brand names with a registered and validated trademark are registered. Occasionally there may be an additional Sunrise period with additional requirements or alternate requirements. Domains purchased during the Sunrise period will always be charged a Sunrise fee on top of the purchase price.
Sunrise periods can be conducted as an auction, or alternately offered as a first come, first serve basis. The auction process entails domain applications being submitted throughout the Sunrise period and are registered to the winner at the end of the period.
When done as an auction Sunrise periods must last at least 60 days and do not have to give notice of launch, so companies looking for something specific in this time frame need to be keeping an eye out for the start of the Sunrise period. Sunrise periods done on a first come, first serve basis must last at least 30 days and must be announced 30 days in advance.
As if the Sunrise period weren’t complicated enough it’s only the beginning. The second phase is the Landrush period, however this phase is not mandatory like the Sunrise period is. The Landrush period is used to register very important names, but these would be names that either aren’t trademarked or can’t be trademarked, see an Intellectual Property attorney for a detailed explanation on the ins and outs of trademarking.
During the Landrush period, registrations are typically open to everyone, although that can vary depending on the registry’s requirements, but domains are offered at a higher price. You’re paying a premium for being the first in line. If the name is that important or you believe it will be bought by someone else this is the time to buy. Similar to the Sunrise period, domains can be allocated through auction or first come, first serve during the Landrush period.
This is also where Premium Domains come in to play. If you’ve ever used a service to search for available domain names you’ve likely seen some appear listed off to the side as “Premium” with a much larger price tag. For instance I did a search on computer.net which is obviously not available, I was however provided a list of Premium Domain Names as an alternative:
Keep in mind that’s the one year cost for these domain names. Looking at the longer list, the most expensive Premium domain I was offered as an alternative was computerny.com for $8,300. You can certainly see the appeal, but it’s likely you can find an alternative for much less. For instance computerny.biz is currently available for $12.99.
If a Landrush period is included it is determined by the registry how long it will last. The next period is the General Availability, the first 90 days of which includes a Trademark Claims period. The domains are now available to the general public on a first come, first serve basis, including the Premium Domains that were not purchased during the Landrush period.
The Trademark Claims period is a notification service, required by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) to warn domain name registrants and trademark holders of any possible intellectual property infringements. Basically when a domain name is registered it is checked against the Trademark Clearninghouse, and the registrant is sent a warning if the domain name they are trying to register matches a trademark term. The registrant can continue to register the domain name or cancel the registration. If the registrant continues the registration the trademark holder is notified of the domain name registration and takes the action they deem fit. Once the 90 day Trademark Claims period has finished registrations on the new gTLD continue under general availability.
This is a generalized overview of what happens when a new gTLD comes out. Some gTLDs have more requirements such as the .XXX and .COOP domains have to be members of their respective “Sponsored Community”, .PRO registrants have to provide profession specific information, and .JOBS requires verification of the legal company name and human resources verification of intended us. Similarly next years releases of .INC and .LLC will require Secretary of State verification for business entities.
With such a long process, so many trademark concerns and so very many new gTLDs being released in the near future, domain registration could be a very active technology sector to watch in the coming year.