TMEP 1215.01: Background

October 2017 Edition of the TMEP

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1215.01    Background

A domain name is part of a Uniform Resource Locator ("URL"), which is the address of a site or document on the Internet. A domain name is usually preceded in a URL by "http://www." The "http://" refers to the protocol used to transfer information, and the "www" refers to World Wide Web, a graphical hypermedia interface for viewing and exchanging information.

In general, a domain name is comprised of a second-level domain, a "dot," and a top-level domain ("TLD"). The wording to the left of the "dot" is the second-level domain. A TLD is the string of letters that follows the last "." or "dot".

Example: If the domain name is "," the term "ABC" is a second-level domain and the term "com" is a TLD.

Generic TLDs. If a TLD has three or more characters, it is known as a "generic top-level domain" or "gTLD." The following are examples of gTLDs designated for use by the public:


commercial, for-profit organizations


4-year, degree-granting colleges/universities


U.S. federal government agencies


international organizations


U.S. military organizations, even if located outside the U.S.


network infrastructure machines and organizations


miscellaneous, usually non-profit organizations and individuals

Each of the gTLDs listed above is intended for use by a certain type of organization. For example, the gTLD ".com" is for use by commercial, for-profit organizations. However, the administrator of,.net,.org, gTLDs does not check the requests of parties seeking domain names to ensure that such parties are a type of organization that should be using those gTLDs. On the other hand,.mil,.gov, gTLD applications are checked, and only the U.S. military, the U.S. government, or international organizations are allowed in the respective domain space.

Country-Code TLDs. Country-code TLDs are for use by each individual country. For example, the TLD ".ca" is for use by Canada, and the TLD ".jp" is for use by Japan. Each country determines who may use its code. For example, some countries require that users of their code be citizens or have some association with the country, while other countries do not.

See and TMEP §§1215.02(d)(i)─1215.02(d)(iv) for additional information about other gTLDs and TMEP §1209.03(m) about descriptiveness or genericness of marks comprising domain names.