ICANN Approves Expansive Branded Top-Level Domain Names, Starting Jan 12, 2012

The ICANN board today has voted to approve the new gTLD program, which will significantly expand Top-Level Domains (TLDs) from the present total of 22 up to a theoretically infinite number of gTLDs, as the stage has now been set to allow companies, organizations and even cities to turn their own brands into domain name […]

The ICANN board today has voted to approve the new gTLD program, which will significantly expand Top-Level Domains (TLDs) from the present total of 22 up to a theoretically infinite number of gTLDs, as the stage has now been set to allow companies, organizations and even cities to turn their own brands into domain name extensions.

Think .ADIDAS, .HOTEL, .BRUSSELS, .FACEBOOK and the likes.

Organisations across the world have already signalled considerable interest in the new system. CircleID reports that, in anticipation of significant demand across Asia, international domain name registrar Afilias has allied with major web host HiChina, to help Asian companies to pursue what they call a "dot.BRAND" approach. Afilias senior VP Roland LaPlante said that "a dot.BRAND TLD lets major companies control how customers experience their brand online and helps break through the noise and clutter online".

According to ICANN, newly introduced gTLDs may change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence.

"Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways," ICANN said in a statement.

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.

Applications will have to show a legitimate claim to the name they're buying -- ICANN is reportedly taking on hundreds of consultants to whom it'll 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.

Applications for new gTLDs will be accepted from 12 January 2012 to 12 April 2012.