LOS ANGELES, CA – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) – the nonprofit organization that oversees the domain industry – announced that, in the next round of domain expansion and going forward, they will no longer be allowing entities registering new Top-Level Domains (TLDs) to utilize what is known as “closed generics.”
Closed generics are essentially TLDs that are owned or are exclusive to one company that use generic and/or dictionary terms; these TLDs are not available for use by the general public. Examples would include Amazon having sole internal rights to the use of a domain such as “.book” or Google utilizing “.search” for only its own purposes.
While the 2012 expansion round initially did not forbid closed generic TLDs, after other applications for them were received by ICANN, they were retroactively banned by the organization.
ICANN’s Chair of its Board of Directors, Tripti Sinha, confirmed in a memo released on January 22 that closed generic TLDs are indeed banned in the next expansion round, as well as for the foreseeable future.
“The [ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee] advises the Board: Prior to the next round of New gTLDs, to ensure that the forthcoming Applicant Guidebook clearly states that Closed Generic gTLD applications will not be considered,” the memo states. “The [At-Large Advisory Committee] informed the Board…that it fully supports this Advice and its accompanying rationale and echoes this Advice to the Board. The Board decision, reflected in the scorecard, notes that the Board has considered the GAC Advice and has determined that closed generic gTLD applications will not be permitted until such time as there is an approved methodology and criteria to evaluate whether or not a proposed closed domain is in the public interest.”
ICANN’s decree also closes a workaround in the previous ban where companies were able to submit applications for open domains but never officially launch them, thus keeping them out of public use.
The next round of new gTLDs offered by ICANN is currently expected to open in the second quarter of 2026 (April-June). ICANN is currently working on a new Applicant Guidebook, which outlines the rules and procedures for applying for new gTLDs. This work is estimated to take approximately two years, concluding in May 2025. Once the Guidebook is finalized, ICANN will then need to prepare its systems and infrastructure for the application round. This is expected to take one additional year, including development and testing, leading to the anticipated application launch in Q2 2026.
- ICANN New gTLDs website: https://newgtlds.icann.org/en
- Announcement of Next Round: https://newgtlds.icann.org/en/next-round
- Implementation Plan for Next Round: https://newgtlds.icann.org/en/next-round
About The Author: John Colascione is Chief Executive Officer of Internet Marketing Services Inc. He specializes in Website Monetization, is a Google AdWords Certified Professional, authored a ‘how to’ book called ”Mastering Your Website‘, and is a key player in several Internet related businesses through his search engine strategy brand Searchen Networks®