As the initial phase of the new gTLD programme – the initiative to add a large selection of new domain-name extensions to the Internet’s root zone – continues well into its second decade, the launch of five new extensions (.food, .diy, .lifestyle, .living and .vava) by registry operator Internet Naming Co. was announced on 18 January, to enter their sunrise periods on 24th.
All five are unrestricted TLDs, with registrations to be available on a first-come, first-served basis once they enter their general availability phase (scheduled for 6 March). The stated plan is for .vana to integrate with Web3 functionality.
Of this set of extensions, .food is perhaps the most significant, in terms of its potential for mainstream appeal, but also for its potential attractiveness to infringers. The food sector has long been one of the industries most heavily targeted by counterfeiting, and was the specific subject of an EUIPO study on the issue in 2016. Furthermore, as consumers increasingly move their purchasing strategies online, the e-commmerce channel for food is predicted to climb to more than $250 billion by 2025.
As of 29 January (five days on from the start of sunrise), , the .food domain-name zone file contained just a handful of registrations, but we would expect numbers to ramp up over the coming weeks. The initial batch of registered domains was as follows:
Some of these appear to be registrations made for technical infrastructure purposes, and only four (asterisked) appear to be brand-related registrations (generally official). As of the date of analysis, none of these domains displayed any content other than placeholder pages.
Overall, recent years have seen the launch of a significant number of new domain name extensions comprising terms of direct relevance to the industry areas of many brands. It remains to be seen how adoption of these new-gTLDs compares with that of new dot-brand extensions, as the new round of applications launches in the next couple of years. This will be particularly relevant as we start to see more cases where organisations are rebranding in ways where their brand identity and full domain name are aligned (such as ‘Go.Compare’, whose website is currently branded as such, and who are now using the go.compare domain name – even if this currently re-directs to their legacy domain, at gocompare.com).
Brand owners operating in the food industry would be well advised to consider their strategy in response to the launch of .food, including consideration of the value of defensive registrations, and monitoring for (and enforcing against) infringing activity on any new domains as they appear. Use of extensions of this type may also be appropriate for corporates with divisions in multiple industry verticals. It will be informative to see what trends emerge as the initial desirable domain names become taken.