Q. What links Banana Republic, Chanel, George, Gap, Hermes, Gucci, Mango, Tiffany, and Zara?
A. They are fashion brands are at the forefront of the latest developments in internet domain names having applied for a Global Top Level Domain (GTLD) of their brands under the expansion of the system that has seen nearly 2000 applications for new GTLDs.
Current GTLDs include .com, .net, .org and with the new expanded system, any extension can now be used.
The benefits to a brand owner are that the owner of a GTLD will be able to run and control its own domain name registry. This effectively ring-fences the brand and gives greater control over the use of the brand on the internet.
Interestingly, a number of generic names have also been applied for, including “clothing” and “shoes”. If successful, the owner of the .clothing or .shoes registry will be able to accept domain name applications for any brand name such as Armani.clothing and jimmychoo.shoes. This is irrespective of the existence of Armani.com and jimmychoo.com.
Brand owners must therefore be on their guard to ensure that their brands are not registered by cybersquatters or unscrupulous competitors. The date when the new GTLD registries are likely to go live is possibly the summer of 2013. Watch this space!