.open is closed

The other day I was looking for a domain name to host APIs and related services for various R&D projects I’m involved in. When that’s the case, I usually stick to the classic .com and .org top level domains, but though it would be good for a change to explore some of the most exotic ones that are now available.

So I went to the wikipedia page listing all the Internet top-level domains for inspiration, and though it would be brilliant to go with a “.open” option. My next step was naturally to visit the GoDaddy website, where my domains are registered, and do a quick search for the one I wanted. Unfortunately it was not available, and surprisingly neither any of the variations I could think of. I basically quickly realized that none of the .open domains were… Odd I told myself. Maybe GoDaddy was not the registration authority? 

This naturally intrigued me and, after a bit of digging, landed on the IANA page with the delegation record for .open, which, to my surprise, is owned by “American Express Travel Related Services, Inc”. Seriously? Amex? Even odder. Not wanting to give this up, I reached out to both the administrative and technical contacts, and, after a couple of attempts, I was told that “The TLD .open is a brand TLD and isn’t open for public registration”. 

A quick Google search for “brand TLD” lead me to the ICANN Wiki page explaining that “A Brand TLD is an innovative type of top level domain name (TLD) that is made possible through the implementation of ICANN’s new gTLD Program. A Brand TLD provides the opportunity for branded corporations to use their corporate name as their website’s top-level identifier instead of using a more traditional .com or biz.”

Why did Amex apply for this and how was it accepted as a brand TLD for a credit card company profoundly puzzles me. I would love to hear from anyone who has an explanation. But guess this closes the door on my idea of getting a cool .open domain name.   Back to the domain search box….