Bummer, we have to wait another week. Apparently ICANN is concerned about possible tampering with the TLD Application System (TAS), as they rightly should be, so they have closed it down for a few days, resulting in the application window for new gTLDs being extended from today to next Friday, April 20th. As it states on its site, "Recently, we received a report of unusual behavior with the operation of the TAS system. We then identified a technical issue with the TAS system software."
Not that this shouldn't make a difference to you, because if you haven't taken a stand on gTLDs for your company and don't have your application all ready to go by today, you're most likely gonna miss the boat anyway. But as a marketing leader, you need to make sure you have someone paying close attention to the program over the next few weeks.
We've been expecting that ICANN will post the public portions of all the applications on its site by April 30th (don't be surprised if this slips a week as well). By reviewing this posting, you'll see who is applying and what strings they are applying for. Whether or not you have applied for your own gTLD, make sure you go through the list to see if someone has applied for a string that may violate a trademark right for your company or one of your brands. It will be up to you to file a legal rights objection if this happens. It is most likely to happen if you've got a company or product name that is a commonly used word, like United.
ICANN has laid out the conditions for which you may have grounds to file an objection, such as proving that the other party's use of the gTLD will cause harm to your brand. But there isn't much precedent to go by here, so we predict some major disputes will hit the press this summer.
The real exciting part will be seeing what companies are planning to do with their new registries. This is where I see the innovation, and once the application window is officially closed, we'll be trying to surface some of these strategies. Anyone want to share now?