ICANN has announced that companies and organizations will have the ability to turn their brands into domain name extensions starting in 2013. Applications are being accepted starting in January of 2012. TechCrunch reports
The ICANN board has voted to approve the new gTLD program, which was first announced three years ago. The new program will significantly expand Top-Level Domains (TLDs) to allow companies, organizations and even cities to turn their own brands into domain name extensions. Think .ADIDAS, .HOTEL, .BRUSSELS, .FACEBOOK and the likes.
The chart below gives the timeline for this happening.
So while this sounds like a very cool thing, don’t think it’s going to be something that everyone is going to be able to either use or afford. In other words, this is not a situation for the little guys.
However, it’s important to note that only “established public or private organizations” will be able to apply, and the price tag for a new domain name extension is steep – unless you consider $185,000 a bargain. Nevertheless, expect lots of interest even at that price.
Applications will have to show a legitimate claim to the name they are buying – ICANN is reportedly taking on hundreds of consultants to whom it will outsource the job of evaluating such claims. In addition, gTLD owners will be expected to maintain operational sites, in an effort to minimize the risk of massive .CYBERSQUATTING.
Expect there will be attempts to game and hijack these domains even with the higher cost barrier to entry and the general rules to be applied to these domains. It’s the Internet after all so if there is something to be hijacked or ‘stolen’ there will be attempts. It actually might be fun to watch who will be the first non-brand to be clever enough to run the gauntlet and come out with a prized hostage domain on the other side.