The Two-Way
10:15 am
Mon June 20, 2011

Number Of Domain Names To Explode; Effect Debated

In voting today to dramatically expand what can be used as suffixes in Internet domain names, have the regulators of that world made the Web a whole lot more democratic or kicked off what are sure to be some expensive and extended battles over trademarks?

Perhaps both.

As The Associated Press writes:

"Internet minders voted Monday to allow virtually unlimited new domain names based on themes as varied as company brands, entertainment and political causes, in the system's biggest shake-up since it started 26 years ago."

Starting next year, if you can afford the $185,000 application fee and $25,00 a year after that, you can apply to attach "nearly any word in any language, including in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts," to a Web address. As the AP adds, "high-profile entertainment, consumer goods and financial services companies will likely be among the first to apply for their own domain name in a bid to protect their brands, experts said."

There are now 22 so-called "generic top-level domains" (gTLDs). Among the most familiar: .com, .edu, .net, .org and .gov.

At the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), President and CEO Rod Beckstrom declared that:

"ICANN has opened the Internet's naming system to unleash the global human imagination. Today's decision respects the rights of groups to create new Top Level Domains in any language or script. We hope this allows the domain name system to better serve all of mankind."

But ZDNet's Between the Lines blog notes that the decision:

"Is going to be a trademark headache. Businesses are likely to structure their online presence in multiple ways, say IBM.think or Lenovo.think. Who exactly will get that 'think' domain? And in how many scripts would you need to reserve 'think?'

"Domain names can end in almost anything ranging from a city, to term like .eco or .green and native scripts from around the world. How many of these terms do companies need to lock down?"

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