Mass expansion of TLDs not a threat to national domains – IEDR

14 Jul 2011

Trademark owners rather than national top level domains are the ones who will be most challenged by the impending expansion of generic top level domains (gTLDs), the CEO of the IE Domain Registry David Curtin said today, after reporting a 50pc increase in operating profits.

I asked Curtain about the future of the .ie domain space and other national domains in light of ICANN’s decision to usher in one of the biggest changes to the internet’s domain name system. At a special meeting, the board recently voted to expand generic top level domains (gTLDs) from the current 22 to allow future internet address names to end with almost any word in any language.

Curtin said: “It is going to be very interesting over the coming years with a lot of activity in the gTLD space and a lot of competition for national domains. We will see a huge increase in the size of the domain space but this will offer benefits to all participants, especially registrars.

“The headaches I believe will be felt by owners of brands, patents, trademarks and copyrights.

“Anyone with a brand will be challenged and should be prepared to set up their own gTLDs to protect their brand.

“It will be a big job for people to manage brands and stay on top and make sure cyber squatters don’t get there first and hold their brand to ransom,” Curtin warned.

The IEDR this morning reported in its 2010 annual report that new domain registrations filed during 2010 were down slightly to 36,587  from 37,055 in 2009.

However, total .ie domains increased by 12.9pc year-on-year to 153,419. Registration fee income increased by 9.7pc to €2.56m.

The organisation, which manages Ireland’s national .ie domain name system (DNS), reported registry operating costs were up by 1.6pc and reported a 50pc rise in operating profits of €582,639.

Registration revenue increased to €2.56m, a 9.7pc increase, reflecting the volume growth of 26.9pc.

.ie increased market share by 1.6pc to 41.5pc (compared to .com and .eu) and the 150,000th .ie domain registration milestone was passed last year. Also during the year, McAfee security survey reported .ie namespace remained in the top 5 safest in the world.

Getting SMEs online

During the year, the IEDR launched its €100,000 OPTIMISE Fund in response to the low participation of Irish SMEs in the e-commerce space. Curtin pointed out that only 22pc of Irish SMEs with a web presence actually conduct any form of e-commerce.

“As Google have pointed out, there is no recession online. SMEs need to step up to the plate and make better use of the internet to achieve their objectives.

“I think firms are getting the message,” he said.

Looking ahead, Curtin said the expansion of gTLDs is going to be a challenge but that the IEDR is willing to do what’s needed.

“I think its an opportunity for national brands. There are so many gTLDs that national brands will become more important. For us, .ie domains are guaranteed Irish – it’s our niche market – a local domain for Irish products and in the top 5 safest domains in the world. It’s a good message and a unique selling point.”

Photo: CEO of the IE Domain Registry David Curtin

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years