Intro of London Domain on 29 April 2014
ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is currently expanding the domain name space through the introduction of new top level domains. A top level domain is the last part of any web address. There are two types of top level domains – country-codes (such as .fr for France and .de for Germany) and generic (such as .org for organisations)
A new .london domain was launched on 29 April to help businesses to identify themselves through their web addresses as being based in the capital. The new domain already has its first inhabitants among Fortnum and Mason and West Ham United FC. It is now possible to visit their web sites by typing in www.FortnumandMason.london and www.WHUFC.london.
Commenting on West Ham’s decision to register a .london domain, vice-chairman Karren Brady CBE remarked that, “As the traditional London Club, with roots formed at the heart of the East End in 1895, a move to become the first football club to use the Dot London domain is a natural fit for West Ham United”.
Other .london pioneers include the London Sympony Orchestra and the musical, The Commitments. London is one of the first cities in the world after New York, Berlin and Vienna to have its own domain name. There are already close to 50,000 web sites using a .berlin domain only a few months after its introduction.
In an open letter written in April, the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said that, "A web address ending in .london says more about a business than just where it is – it is a statement about who they are and the aspirations they pursue." The London domain is operated by Dot London Domains Limited, a subsidiary of London’s official promotional organisation, London & Partners.
Further new top level domains proposed by ICANN include .cheap, boutique, expert, .ltd and limited, as well as Cymru and Wales.
Most of the new domains are expected to cost around £40 a year. However, more valuable generic names, such as restaurant London, will be auctioned. All money raised from these auctions will go towards paying the set-up costs of launching the London domain and then promoting London as a tourist and investment destination.
There are many reasons why a company may want to register a new .london domain name. For London-based business, registering a new web address may make it easier for internet users to find their websites. It may also assist with a company’s search engine optimisation or keyword strategy. As these domain names have only recently been introduced, some companies wish to register for them to enhance their reputations as being innovative and forward-thinking.
London businesses and residents will be given priority to register a .london domain during the initial phase. While anyone can apply for a domain during this initial phase, known as the “London Priority Period” (which runs from 29 April to 31 July 2014), domains will be allocated first to registered trademark holders (as verified through ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse database) and London businesses and individuals registering their own names before London businesses and individuals registering other names and non-Londoners have the opportunity of registering a name. After the priority period, anyone will be able to register domains on a firstcome,first-served basis (subject to a number of limitations, which are outlined below).
With the introduction of the new website addresses, businesses and individuals should consider which of their brands are key and most at risk of registration by competitors or “domain squatters”, who purchase unregistered domain names related to businesses or public figures and then demand a large sum to sell it to them. Due to concerns about “domain squatters”, Buckingham Palace has recently registered web addresses in names of the Royal Family to stop others from creating web sites in their names. Around 30 websites including princessbeatrice.org, thedukeofedinburgh.org, countessofwessex.com, theprincessroyal.org and dukeofkent.org were bought by Buckingham Palace earlier this year. These royals currently do not have their own websites and instead have pages within the official website of the British Monarchy.
As a minimum, businesses should consider making regular searches for their key brands to ensure that they are aware of any others using their brand names. Many commercial domain registration web sites are providing free pre-order services,offering notification of the exact time that a domain will be available for purchase.