Pre-Reserve a Domain Name, or Not? ICANN Answers the Question

by Cyrus Namazi on November 13, 2013

With delegation of new gTLDs successfully underway, the general public will soon be able to register domain names in a variety of new generic Top-Level Domains (e.g., yourname.anything). This opens a new chapter in Internet history: one in which brands and businesses of all sizes will be able to invest in new online real estate. The expansion of the Internet, resulting from the New gTLD Program, will not only affect the Domain Name industry, but it provides an unparalleled opportunity for marketing and advertising professionals to better align online identities with the products and services they represent.

You may have heard of new gTLDs in the news, or perhaps you’ve seen or heard advertisements on TV or online. We are pleased that awareness is building. It means Internet users will be prepared to embrace this change and make the most of the many new choices available to them when the new domains become available.

Many of the advertisements are touting “pre-registration” as a means of securing your desired domain name, and some Registrars are reporting a high volume of pre-registrations. Clearly, this is welcome news for new Registries and the Domain Name Industry as a whole. However, we feel it is our responsibility to convey a note of caution for anyone pre-registering a domain. This supplements and expands upon the statement made by the Names Council of the Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO) in 2000.  http://www.icann.org/en/news/announcements/icann-pr-29sep00-en.htm

As responsible Registrars are advising, successful pre-registration of a domain cannot be guaranteed. ICANN seconds that advice, cautioning that registrants should be wary of anyone who claims to be able to guarantee a domain registration on a new gTLD. There are several situations that can impact the availability of a domain name and some domain names may never be available for purchase. Instances that can impact availability of Second-Level Domains include:

  • Multiple Registars per generic Top-Level Domain

    Many gTLD Registries contract with multiple Registrars to provide registration services to Internet users. The Registrar you pre-register with may not be the Registrar that eventually registers the name.

  • Trademarked Names

    Rights holders that have submitted verified trademarks will be given priority access to request domain names related to their trademarks.

  • Auction of Premium Names

    Some Registries may choose to offer perceived premium names for registration to the highest bidder before they’re made available to the general public, so some of these names may not be available.

  • Name Collision

    Certain Second-Level Domain names must be blocked by Registries because their activation could potentially impact the operations of some private domains.

  • Some gTLDs may not be delegated

    There is no assurance that ICANN will sign Registry Agreements for all of the new gTLDs for which applications have been submitted, nor is there any assurance that all of the new gTLDs will be delegated. If you pre-register a desired domain name and the underlying gTLD is not delegated, that domain name will not be available to you.

While we caution potential registrants to be skeptical of claims that a name can be “guaranteed” names, ICANN supports programs that are set up to help interested parties keep track of when the new domain names will be available. For example, some Registrars are providing programs that allow potential registrants to subscribe to status updates on new gTLDs.

The new gTLDs provide greater opportunities for choice, innovation and competition. In addition to all the measures that ICANN, the community and our partners have established to ensure a safe and secure rollout, we also want to ensure that people understand the process for getting the new domain names they want.

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