ICANN, the international coordinator for the internet’s naming system, ended yesterday its registration process for companies to register a new gTLD. To bring everyone up to speed, a TLD, or “Top Level Domain” is the .com, .net, .org, etc., that internet addresses are based on. ICANN recently proposed to allow companies to register their own name (or anything else) as a custom Generic Top Level Domain (gTLD). Talor Bearman, in a post back in December 2011 wondered whether this was a good opportunity for companies to brand themselves even further, or whether it was just a moneymaking scheme on ICANN’s part. We have also posted questions about the effects this will have on defensive registrations of gTLDs. For example, what happens when an association of apple farmers wants to register .apple, and Apple, Inc. (everyone’s favorite producer of iGadgets) wants to register the same gTLD? Today we are seeing the initial effects of the gTLD registration program.

Although ICANN isn’t releasing the full list of applicants and their proposed new domains until June 13, Google has revealed some of the gTLDs that it has registered. Some of these are to be expected: .google, .docs, .youtube. But good ‘ole Google has also registered .lol. Yes, you’re reading that right. Google states that it is bidding for .lol and other TLDs because of their “interesting and creative potential.” (Only time will tell if Google really just wants the domain so it can own funnycats.lol)

We have only a couple more weeks until ICANN unveils the full list of registrations. Hopefully our initial concerns over consumer confusion, company branding, defensive registrations, and funny cat pictures will be answered. After all, who wants an internet where only Google controls the .lols?

Brandon Trout

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2 Responses to .shenanigans – Do We Really Need .lol and Other gTLDs?

  1. Brandon Trout says:

    Just a quick update to the post, several companies and countries have sued (or are threatening to sue) ICANN over the new TLD system. We’ll just have to grab our popcorn and see how this one plays out.

  2. Hunter says:

    1. If Google has taken .lulz along with .lol, then the internet may as well be broken as a comedy device.

    2. Speaking of comedy, I found it incredibly funny (but not in a laugh-out-loud way) that there was a decade-long battle over the use of .xxx as a sponsored top-level domain name, and then suddenly ICANN throws open to door to allow anyone to register a custom gTLD.