Chinese web giant Baidu had its dot-brand gTLD, .baidu, go live in the DNS root zone today.
With the extraordinary amount of focus on China in the domain industry currently, this could be one of the dot-brands to watch in 2016.
There are no active domain names in .baidu just yet, but we will likely see nic.baidu put to some use or another over the coming days.
Unusually for a dot-brand gTLD, Baidu’s contract with ICANN does not contain specifications 9 or 13, which allow dot-brands to operate differently to regular gTLDs.
This suggests an open registration policy under which any registrar can sell .baidu domains to any registrant.
However, Baidu’s original gTLD application spells out quite a different plan, focused primarily on trademark protection. It says:
All available second-level strings of .BAIDU (e.g. example .BAIDU) will be initially allocated only to limited number of eligible registrants and for internal corporate business purposes. BAIDU plans to adopt this approach and expects to maintain it for 3 years from the launch of the “.BAIDU” registry service. Such approach will be regularly evaluated and adjusted if appropriate and necessary. Depending a various internal and external factors, including market demand and user expectation, BAIDU may consider a phased roll-out approach for a broader commercial marketplace but will do so after the conclusion of the initial 3-year period.
I wouldn’t expect .baidu to launch properly any time soon.
Not only is the company probably going to want to get its dot-brand contractual protections in place, it’s also showed no huge enthusiasm for making its way through the new gTLD delegation process so far.
It signed its ICANN contract January 8 last year, meaning this week was pretty much the latest date it could permissibly go into the root.
Like most dot-brands, it’s been dragging its feet, in other words.
Baidu is the leading web property in China, dwarfing even Google in terms of search market share locally.