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2009 Domain Name Year in Review

To say that it’s been quite a year in the world of domain names would be an understatement. From compromised country code Top-Level Domains (ccTLD) registries, to the delay of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), some of the events of the past year have been surprising, while others could easily have been predicted.

Regardless of whether you could have seen these coming, please find below my list of 2009’s most important domain name events…at least, as I see them.

10 – Toys.com is sold for a staggering $5.1 million dollars.

9 – With 115 million current gTLDs, registration growth slows from 11% in 2008 down to 6% in 2009.

8 – Oversee.net and SnapNames.com admit that a company executive acted as a shill bidder in the auctions of thousands of domains over a four-year period.

7 – UDRP marks its 10-year anniversary with more than 16,000 disputes and more than 10,000 domain name transfers.

6 – Germany (.DE) and .BIZ announce the release of one- and two-character domain name registrations.

5 – Mexico (.MX), Tunisia (.TN) and Cameroon (.CM) announce the release of second-level domain registrations and the European Union (.EU), Bulgaria (.BG) Singapore (.SG) and .NAME announce the release of Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs).

4 – Corporate registration trends move away from the practice of registering large numbers of defensive domains as more companies adopt aggressive monitoring and policing policies.

3 – Both registries and registrars are exploited by hackers as SQL vulnerabilities are uncovered.

2 – ICANN’s IDN Fast Track process is approved and applications for Top-Level Internationalized Country Codes are accepted.

1 – The launch of ICANN’s new gTLD program is delayed as commitments to addressing and resolving overarching issues related to trademark protection, stability and security, malicious conduct and economic demand are made.

So what can we expect in 2010?

While I don’t have a crystal ball, I expect to see the launch of a number of the Top-Level Internationalized Country Code extensions in the first half of next year. Corporations should begin planning now by identifying non-Latin trademark portfolios so that they are prepared as Sunrise periods begin.

I also anticipate that we will see a final version of the new gTLD Guidebook by the end of next year. I would encourage companies to actively participate with ICANN in relation to the new gTLD process and in particular with the development of rights protection mechanisms. Again, although there is a delay in the process, companies should continue to move down a path of due diligence to determine the right approach—whether it’s to focus solely on defensive measures or to apply for a custom TLD.

We’ll continue to see liberalizations of ccTLDs. However, we may also start seeing the introduction of new, more stringent requirements on ccTLDs which were once unrestricted or minimally restricted in an effort to reduce criminal activity.

Although I am hopeful that we’ve seen the last of these registry and registrar security breaches, I am sure that we’ll continue to see the efforts of hackers rearing their ugly heads.

While 2009 was certainly a year to remember, I think that 2010 will bring big changes and even bigger challenges.

By Elisa Cooper, Head of Marketing, GoDaddy Corporate Domains

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