As we move into 2024, the domain industry is a step closer to the second gTLD application round. In the second half of 2023 we saw some encouraging updates from ICANN that after a decade of debate, discussion and discord, that this time it is for real. The announcement in early August of a timeframe (quarter 2 of 2026) that the organisation was working to was greeted with optimism from the stakeholder community, whilst the continuing work of the IRT on the SubPro recommendations is another sign the road ahead is being cleared for the next transformative phase of the internet’s naming space.
2024 will see a number of key initiatives come to fruition, including the launch of the Registry Services Provider Pre-Evaluation process, due to start later in the year, which will decrease the burden on TLD applicants to complete a lot of the technical questions in the application when the time comes. We will also start to see sections of the Applicant Guidebook be published for public comment, another sure sign that Round 2 is becoming a reality.
The first application round was not without its challenges. Issued ranged from technical glitches in the application system (The TAS) to intellectual property concerns and debates over the validity and management of certain generic terms. However, these challenges have acted as valuable learning experiences for ICANN and the domain name community. Since then, there has been significant process in policy development, dispute resolution mechanisms, and support for applicants, especially those from developing countries.
So, what should organisations who are considering making a dotBrand application in 2026 be thinking about in the next 12 months? It’s never too early to start planning and a number of entities have already started understanding which strings could be applied for, and the value that they could produce. Creating the dotBrand stakeholder team is also one key task that can be started in 2024, ensuring the right people from the relevant business areas are engaged and understand the path to success.
Choosing the right partners is also critical and an organisation who wants to apply for a dotBrand (or multiple TLDs) will need to engage with a registry services partner, such as Nominet as well as a registrar, such as Com Laude, who have the experience and expertise in successful applications and delegations of dotBrands.