ICANN board nixes “closed generics” in next new round of TLDs

Applicants will not be able to use generic terms exclusively.

The words "closed generics" with a circle and slash indicating they are banned

ICANN’s Board of Directors has confirmed that it will not allow so-called “closed generics” in the next round of top level domain name expansion.

Closed generics are generic/dictionary terms that one company wants to own but not offer to the general public. Think Google getting .search and only using it for its own purposes, or Amazon exclusively using .book.

These types of TLDs weren’t initially forbidden in the 2012 expansion round but were retroactively banned after applications were received.

In a January 22 letter, Tripti Sinha, Chair of the ICANN’s Board of Directors, confirmed (pdf) that the board is squashing closed generics in the next round, too.

There was a bit of a loophole in the original ban: companies could continue with their applications as open domains but never launch them. That’s the case (so far) with .search and .book, which are still sitting on the shelf. The companies can’t exclusively use them but can keep them out of the hands of others.

If they want to use them exclusively, they could also launch them with very high registration prices to keep other users at bay. I wonder if some current owners of unlaunched generic TLDs were hoping for a retroactive reprieve in the upcoming round. Now that that’s off the table, they might launch their domains with high prices.

Domain Incite has done an excellent job chronicling the closed generics fight.

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