A custom domain name suffix, or custom TLD, is a top-level domain (TLD) name that belongs to a single organization. The TLD is the last segment of the domain name, the letters – such as com or net -- immediately following the final dot in a URL. There are currently 22 TLDs.
A custom TLD can be any word or combination of letters. An automobile manufacturer might purchase the .car suffix, for example; a company might purchase its own name as a TLD: Apple.com could become Apple.Apple, or it could register second-level domains (SLD) for business segments separately, so that it had fully qualified domain names (FQDN) like iPad.Apple.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the organization that governs domain name system (DNS) management, announced that it will accept applications for the first custom TLDs between January 12 and April 12, 2012. The organization expects to approve 1,000 applications per year.
The expectation is that organizations will purchase custom TLDs to increase visibility and branding and, possibly, to increase search engine optimization (SEO), although it is not clear that the suffixes will affect search results in any way.
The application fee for custom TLDs is $185,000, which is only partially refunded in the case of rejection. If approved, a registration will cost about $25,000 per year to maintain.
Given the cost of application, ICANN does not expect that there will be a problem with cybersquatters purchasing custom TLDs hoping to sell them to a legitimate business. Nevertheless, ICANN has established processes to protect the system from abuse. Applicants are required to demonstrate that they have a legitimate claim to the domain name in question. ICANN will also research applicants’ backgrounds. Any history of cybersquatting will result in immediate rejection of the application.
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