New gTLD Pre-Registration

Consumers are Advised Against New gTLD Domain Pre-Registration

New gTLD education and awareness resource, Newgtldsite.com, is advising consumers to avoid new websites offering ‘pre-registration’ for domain names that may be available through the ICANN New gTLD Program this year. These offers are often misleading and carry risks that outweigh any benefits of pre-registration at this time.

Use a Watchlist Instead

Have a great idea for a new domain name using one of ICANN’s New gTLDs? You’re best keeping that information to yourself, at least for now.

With the approaching launch of new top-level domain extensions through the ICANN New gTLD Program such as .app.music, .web, .nyc and hundreds more (see list), websites are beginning to emerge that offer ‘Pre-Registration’ of domain names using the new web address endings.

These websites have enormous potential to cause confusion among consumers as no sort of ‘registration’ in any official sense is remotely possible at this time.

New gTLD pre-registration websites today encourage visitors to reveal their desired domain names through a process that mimics an official domain registration one might experience when registering an existing .com, or .org domain name today. They use language like: ‘Secure Your Name’, ‘Reserve your Domain’, and ‘Protect Your Brand’. Or, ‘Secure your Chance to Own a Great Domain Name’.

Right, and you can ‘secure your chance’ at that Powerball Jackpot by shelling out $100 for some numbers but we all know how that usually turns out.

Any belief that ‘pre-registration’ grants a real claim to a domain name under a New gTLD is grossly misinformed. There is a long road yet before that will be possible.

Pre-registration of New gTLD domains today is comparable to booking passage on a ship that hasn’t been built, has not been approved to be built, and in some cases, may likely never be built.

What is Pre-Registration, Really ?

All New gTLD applications are currently in Initial Evaluation – The first stage of the approval process. If they pass this stage, they will still need to run the gauntlet of objections, contention and possible government intervention.

There is no guarantee any of them will ever come to exist.

Even if a TLD is approved there is a series of launch phases that a New TLD will undergo that will trump any ‘pre-registration’. Trademark owners will get first crack at names through a Trademark Sunrise. Communities may offer registrations to members first. There is a Landrush phase and also reserve auction, where registries hold names back in order to auction to the highest bidder. All of these may occur before domains are offered for open registration and are beyond control of any website currently offering domain pre registration.

There is Risk in Pre-Registering Domain Names

First, an aspiring registrant for a specific domain name may have the false belief their pre-registration has secured the domain name. This is entirely untrue. There are opportunities to register domains that preclude any pre-registration offer being made today. Others may register the domain first. A hopeful buyer might lose the opportunity to secure their domain because they took no other action.

Also, domain names are a lucrative trade, and bad actors have been known to exist in the domain name landscape. Hopeful buyers for domain names have made requests for names that appeared to be available one day only to learn later that name was registered by someone else, who now holds it ransom. Pre-registering a domain name at this early point may actually reveal valuable information that could be damaging.

This is not to suggest that every website currently offering pre-registration has nefarious intent. Many are benign – simply collecting information and providing an information service. But, unless the website is familiar and trusted, it’s best to keep the details of that must-have domain name confidential, at least for now.

What is the best course for those wanting to own one of the new domains?

‘Watchlist’ rather than ‘pre-register’.

There are services online that allow users to ‘watchlist’ specific New TLDs. It is not required to input the exact domain name, simply add the top level domain to track. This way, consumers are able to get important TLD release updates, registration timelines and requirements for the different stages of New TLD launch.

A watchlist is the best way to stay informed of developments and get valuable instruction without revealing valuable domain details. One such service can be found here.

Consumers should take care to not input specific domain names. Rather, simply add the TLD, or top level domain (what comes after the dot) to their watchlist.

Staying informed is the best option for now. A watchlist service will provide this while protecting valuable sensitive details.