Preparing For A Restricted or Brand TLD

Restricted Or Brand TLD​

Is your organization preparing for a restricted or brand TLD application in the forthcoming wave but uncertain on how best to prepare?  If so, this post is tailored for you, offering a comprehensive guide on essential activities and timelines. By following these steps, you can focus on maximizing the benefits to ensure the long-term success of your TLD.

Brand Top-Level Domains (TLDs), exclusively available to approved applicants with matching trademarks, offer organizations a designated and secure space on the Internet.  Examples such as .bnpparibas, .sky and .canon illustrate how these organizations have enhanced security across their domains, cultivating trust and confidence among their users.  

Restricted TLDs share common characteristics with Brand TLDs (dotBrand).  They are custom-tailored to meet the unique requirements of industries that demand strict oversight and unwavering adherence to user policies.  Registration of domains within this category is exclusively reserved for bona fide organizations or individuals.  Notable examples from the 2012 round include .bank, .pharmacy, and .cpa.   

Preserving Trust and Security 

As technology advances, the expansion of these specialized TLDs assumes a pivotal role in preserving the integrity of digital spaces for brands and industries that prioritize the safety and security of their users. For instance, IBM reports that “the global average cost of a data breach in 2023 was USD 4.45 million, reflecting a 15% increase over the past three years”. (Ref: In industries where security breaches incur substantial costs annually, even a small reduction can lead to significant savings, providing peace of mind to users. 

Navigating the Path to a Restricted TLD  

To establish a restricted TLD, the applicant is required to formulate comprehensive guidelines.  This includes registration rules, enforcement procedures, naming conventions, and dispute resolution mechanisms aligned with the TLD’s restrictive nature. Some TLDs choose to employ third-party verification services for confirming registrant eligibility.  This helps ensure registrants adhere to the registration criteria.  It’s also essential to develop a thorough roadmap for the purchasing process.  Often, registrars (organizations that sell domain names on your behalf) hesitate to offer TLDs that involve specialized and potentially time-consuming procedures.  Thus, thoughtful planning is essential to ensure that legitimate users enjoy a seamless and straightforward path to purchase a domain.   

Learning from Past Experiences  

In the previous gTLD round, there were a variety of challenges, particularly those arising from ill-prepared plans and overly optimistic return on investments.  Organizations now have a valuable opportunity to apply the learnings from the last round and dig into the benefits of their TLD to craft comprehensive plans for this new round. The key to success lies in lessons learned from the past, necessitating a more deliberate, strategic, and thoughtful approach this time around. 

Navigating the Timeline for Restricted or Brand TLDs

The timeline for restricted or brand TLDs provides insights to assist prospective applicants in preparing for the upcoming round of new gTLDs. While the general timeline applies to all applicants, it is critical to recognize and proactively address the distinct requirements associated with a brand or restricted TLDs during the planning and preparation stages of your application(s). 

The New gTLD Timeline for Restricted and Brand TLD Applications 

To comprehend the new gTLD timeline, particularly for brand and restrictive TLD applications, let’s break it down into key phases:  

Q1 2024: Assemble Resources 

Gather essential resources, especially crucial for multiple applications, large brands, challenging open TLDs, and community applications. 

Q2 2024: Build your TLD Dream Team 

Assemble a proficient team and define the unique value proposition of your TLD(s). For those considering Applicant Support, the handbook released in May will guide you through the process. 

Q3 2024: Evaluate Benefits and Craft Your Roadmap 

Assess potential benefits, develop a strategic roadmap, and create detailed implementation plans. Underestimating the time and effort required can impede the realization of these benefits. 

Brand TLD Considerations:  Assess eligibility requirements (Spec. 13) and assess the risk posed by others including rights holders or others who may apply for the same string, for example, .apple or .sky.  

Restricted TLD Considerations: Identify the set of safeguards for your TLD and incorporate them into the policies and operating model.  Consider whether to engage with relevant industry organizations to validate business model and outreach opportunities.   

Q4 2024: ICANN Application Support Program 

For those seeking application support, mark October for submissions to the ICANN Application Support Program. 

Q1 2025: Pro Bono Resource List Published 

Qualified supported applications gain access to the pro bono resource list. 

Q2 2025: Registry Service Provider Procurement and Guidebook Completed 

Initiate procurement activities for Registry Service Providers (RSP) and stay updated on the ICANN Applicant Guidebook developments. 

Q4 2025: RSP Pre-Evaluation List and Guidebook Review 

Review the RSP pre-evaluation list and the final Applicant Guidebook. Initiate the application drafting process, ensuring alignment with the latest guidelines. 

Q1 2026: Application Completion and Preparation 

Finalize your application(s) and prepare for submission, securing internal approvals and ensuring fees are ready for disbursement.  

Brand & Restrictive TLD Considerations:  Ensure you have all the required documentation including trademarks, policies and related safeguards information. 

Q2 2026: Application Window Opens and Closes 

Mark your calendar for the opening of the application window in April, closing in June. Submit your application(s) and fees within this timeframe. 

In Summary 

A thorough understanding of restricted and brand TLD applications is essential.  

At TLDz, we’ve observed that organizations often seek assistance to ensure their chosen TLD delivers expected value, emphasizing the need for a well-structured plan to realize associated benefits. By understanding the gTLD timeline and beginning to prepare your plans now, you ensure you have the necessary time to explore and develop those opportunities that deliver the greatest value. 

What a copy of the TLD timeline?  Here’s a PDF!!

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