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New TLD Launch Sequence

Once a TLD application has been approved and delegated to the root zone, it can be marketed and sold to consumers for use as an address on the world wide web. This Launch Sequence will dictate who can register a New TLD domain name, when, and under what conditions.

Each New TLD registry will follow its own unique launch sequence. The exact launch – rules, pricing, timing – everything is at the discretion of the registry for each top level domain. With 1900 New TLD applications there will be wide variations in how new tlds are launched.

New TLDs will become available to different groups at different times, at different prices under different circumstances. A typical TLD rollout or launch sequence will likely include, but not limited to some of these stages:

Founders Program

Founders Program

To encourage adoption and use, and to raise money, a New TLD registry may operate a Founders, or Pioneer Program. This would be the very first opportunity for anyone to obtain rights to a domain name using that TLD. This is the time for highly motivated users New TLDs Founders Pioneer Program and investors to get their 'must have' names. Names allocated during this phase will likely be some of the best the TLD would have to offer. These short, intuitive, or obvious domain names have potential to be marquis web properties. Examples of this caliber of domain name might be 'Hotels.NYC', 'Online.Casino', 'Vacation.Rentals', 'BroadwayTheater.Tickets' – names that carry significant meaning for that TLD.

The registry operator is is usually looking to:

  • Sell high value names at premium prices to raise capital for marketing and launch, and
  • Gain exposure through the development of select high profile web properties featuring their domain extension.
  • So the qualified buyer in a Founders Program would either:
  • Be willing to pay a high price ($50 – $100k and up?) to secure a great name early, or
  • Agree to develop and promote that website to gain exposure for the new top level domain.
A New TLD registry may be open to discussion regarding specific names as soon as their initial evaluation has been successfully completed. At this point, it's relatively certain the New TLD will launch and be made available.

If you are especially interested in a key domain name using a specific new TLD, it would be good to begin thinking how valuable that name is to you. How much would you be willing to pay?

It would also be smart to ponder ways that you would employ the name that would benefit the registry. Might you have an idea that would gain exposure for the website? Commitment to an action plan toward this objective could potentially affect the actual price paid for the name.

Trademark Sunrise

Trademark Sunrise

Before new domain names can be offered to the public, trademark owners must be permitted to register or block their brand names under each new domain extension. 'Trademark Sunrise' is one of many new rights protection mechanisms being implemented for new TLDs to help prevent cyber squatting and abuse.

The Trademark Clearinghouse is now open – Brand Protection for New TLDs starts HERE

For example, if the TLDs ".shoes" and ".fitness" were granted, the sunrise requirement would give Nike time to reserve "" and "," in turn, instead of finding out one day that an unauthorized registrant was using those new domain names to masquerade as Nike.

Trademark Sunrise 'A'

A universal requirement for all new tld registries is the use of at least one trademark sunrise which is supported by the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH). To be eligible a trademark must meet the minimum requirements set by the TMCH provider – usually it will need to be a registered trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or similarly recognized national agency of another country

A new TLD may undergo multiple sunrise phases that would employ varying degrees of eligibility requirements. Remember that each New TLD launch will be unique and may include variations.

Trademark Sunrise 'B'

Some New TLDs may opt for additional sunrise considerations for brands that do not necessarily meet the minimum requirements of the TMCH. A sunrise B may allow marks that qualify under common law use. Brands that aren't officially trademarked but that can demonstrate established prior use may be eligible to register during this phase. Follow each registry launch for sunrise phases and their requirements for the best opportunity at registering your desired names.

Community Sunrise

Community Sunrise

When a New TLD represents a community, whether it be geographical, or socially based, oftentimes there are special considerations for members of that group. One of these may come in the form of a special sunrise registration conducted prior to public registration launch to protect the interests of community members and to encourage their adoption and use of their domain names within their internet strategies.

In the case of geographical and city based TLDs it could be something like SunsetTan.Vegas, or SandysHotSnacks.Vegas. Any local establishment could apply to see if their names could be qualified and registered.

.SALON may decide to give brick and mortar salon businesses first crack at their business names.

Other communities could have different criteria for special consideration. In the case of .MUSIC it has been suggested that bands, and artists who can demonstrate use of their name will be able to register and use that .MUSIC domain name.

The qualifications and requirements can vary by the specific extension to suit the vision and needs of that tld registry.

Every tld that could conceivably represent a community will not offer this. And, those that do will have wide ranging requirements for registration.

It's important to be informed about the specific tlds you care about.

Landrush/Landrush Auction

Landrush/Landrush Auction

It was High Noon April 22, 1889 when frontiersmen and women lined up with their flags to be the first to plant their claim into the best plot of land the Oklahoma territory had to offer. Mere mention of the word 'landrush' invokes images of pioneers, armed with persona flags, rushing off into the frontier. They were hoping to find a prime patch land upon which to plant their flag first, thus claiming that land as their own.

Is this what a New TLD domain landrush is like? . . eh, not so much.

That depiction does not accurately describe the typical Landrush phase of a New TLD Launch. This phase of a New TLD launch is usually not first-come, first-served. While the landrush phase will be the first opportunity that the general public, regardless of trademarks rights or other qualifying requirements can apply to register a domain name using a New TLD. It is not a frenzied 'rush' to get there first as the name might imply.

Usually, a landrush phase will open up registration requests for a limited time period, probably 30 days or so. During this time anyone can submit a registration application. But, the registration will not occur in real time and the eventual owner is not determined until after the landrush phase concludes.

The registration requests are examined for duplicates. In the case of identical registrations – those applicants are invited to a closed auction to determine who gets the name.

For example, if there are three different registration requests for '' then those three parties would be able to bid between them for the domain name after the close of the landrush phase.

So, even if you are the first to request a specific domain name in the landrush phase, someone with deeper pockets could still come in later and win the name against you at landrush auction.

To use our real world Oklahoma analogy, this is more a situation where you could be the first to plant your claim in a nice plot of land just above the river, but a wealthy real estate investor could come along three weeks later, plant his claim, then the two of you would go to auction for it.

Landrush registration requests are usually priced significantly higher than the retail price set for general availability. .CO landrush registrations were priced at $260. This higher cost for registration during landrush does NOT guarantee that you will secure the domain. The highest bidder during the Landrush Auction for that specific domain name will win it. It is only at this time the domain will be truly registered and owned.

'Landrush' is not an accurate descriptor of this phase of New TLD launch. the word landrush in this context more accurately describes what occurs during the opening of the General Availability, or Open Registration phase.

As long as you apply for registration within the defined 'landrush' phase, you will be eligible to secure that specific domain name.

It's not important to be first. It's important to be the only one, or the one with the deepest pockets.

Open Registration/General Availability

Open Registration/General Availability

General Availability (GA), or Open Registration of domain names under a New TLD will usually occur directly following the inaptly named 'landrush' phase. During GA, when a domain is registered it is genuinely reserved and registered in real time and will be unavailable for any who request it later.

This is when 'Pre-registration' typically comes into play. Pre-registered names are set in a queue by a registrar. At the moment general availability is begun, registrars are granted connections to the registry database in turns. If a specific domain name is available at the time of the registrars request, that name can be held and registered in real time. It is important to understand that pre-registration does not in any way guarantee you will secure your requested domain name. Someone could have taken your 'pre-registered' domain name during any prior phase of New TLD Launch – what does pre-registration really mean?

There are over 1000 ICANN registrars which could mean from several – to several hundred registrars attempting to make connections with the registry at the moment GA opens. This truly is more of a 'Rush' or 'Name Grab' than does the landrush Phase, which can result in an auction between colliding name requests.

Each registrar could have thousands of pre-registrations, each one waiting its turn to connect with the registry and make a query for a specific domain name.

If that name is available at the moment the registrar makes the request – it will be registered and reserved in real time.

Premium/Reserve Auctions

Premium/Reserve Auctions

A new TLD domain name is basically undeveloped virtual real estate and by nature, some are worth more than others. A TLD registry can and will withhold domain names from open registration. Registries will reserve thousands of names they deem to be 'premium' or 'high value' to be auctioned off when and how they choose. If you were hoping to scoop up '' during landrush or GA, you will most likely be disappointed. Domain names that have significant meaning or value will almost certainly be reserved for auction. Reserve auctions can occur anytime after Sunrise. Registries have often held names in reserve for years, releasing a limited number to auction at intervals.