ICANN to open up new Internet domain names: who benefits?

ICANN to open up new Internet domain names: who benefits?

Summary: For the first time, the Internet is unleveling the playing field for small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs, with a hefty price tag and associated fees for a new class of domain names.

TOPICS: Browser, Networking

We’re about to see the largest “land rush” since the dawn of the commercial Web almost two decades ago. But unlike the dot-com craziness of the 1990s and 2000s, this is a land rush for the rich and well-connected on the Internet. So, for the first time, the Internet is unleveling the playing field a bit  — small businesses, startups, and entrepreneurs need not apply. And, as some observers point out, the new names may potentially be a great source of confusion and legal wrangling.

Name your domain: ICANN meeting, 6-21-2011

Name your domain, but show us the money: ICANN meeting, June 21, 2011. Photo: ICANN

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) — which oversees Internet domain names — announced that will start accepting applications for domain names in January 2012. The domain names will end in a suffix of the entity’s choosing — such as “.train,” or “.beeswax.”

During a special meeting in Singapore on Monday, the ICANN board approved a plan to dramatically increase the number of Internet domain name endings — called generic top-level domains (gTLDs) — from the current 22, which includes such familiar domains as .com, .org and .net.

“New domain names will change the way people find information on the Internet and how businesses plan and structure their online presence,” ICANN predicts. “Internet address names will be able to end with almost any word in any language, offering organizations around the world the opportunity to market their brand, products, community or cause in new and innovative ways.”

All fine and dandy, but these wonderful branding opportunities ICANN talks about come with a hefty fee of $185,000 per registration, along with proper documentation, and applications will only be accepted during a limited three-month time frame. ICANN says it will also hire an army of consultants to assist with the vetting process -- however, applicants will have to pay the tab for these consultants.

This will certainly keep the cybersquatters -- such as those who soaked up prime names such as “walmart-usa.com” -- at bay. But startups will likely to have to stick to the tried-and-true ".com" brands for now, perhaps even stigmitizing companies down the road.

Then there are the legalistic issues that will inevitably arise. In his post on the topic, ZDNet's Larry Dignan surfaces comments by CNet News’ Stephen Shankland that ICANN’s move 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?"

The decision to proceed with the gTLD program follows many years of discussion, debate and deliberation with the Internet community, business groups and governments. The Applicant Guidebook, a rulebook explaining how to apply for a new gTLD, went through seven revisions to incorporate public comment.

ICANN will soon begin a global campaign to tell the world about this change in Internet names and to raise awareness. But applications for new domain names will be accepted only for a limited three-month period, from January 12, 2012 through April 12th.  Why this limitation?  According to Josh Bourne, managing partner of FairWinds Partners LLC, which advises companies on domain name purchases, this helps ensure confidentiality around company plans to secure and build brands around the names. Bourne, quoted by Reuters, also advises companies on the fence to register, even if they don’t plan to use the domain name in the immediate future. A domain name that bears too similar of a resemblance to another may not be accepted by ICANN, he warns.

(Cross-posted at SmartPlanet Business Brains.)

Topics: Browser, Networking

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  • Who Benefits....Not You!

    Ultimately, trademark and other legal issues are the remit of Courts of Law and thats the way it should stay. By its very nature, Law will always follow a few steps behind innovation. ICANN does not (and should not) have the ultimate power to clean up this minefield.<br><br>Moreover, in terms of any so-called ICANN TLD land-rush, it's really important to remember that ICANN isnt going to consider any applications from individuals or sole proprietorships. In effect, ICANN has ignored the interests and needs of the vast majority of Internet users worldwide. <br><br>Add into this equation the "nominal" starter fee of $185,000 per TLD (plus potentially unlimited annual fees/expenses) and perhaps its understandable that people are beginning to look around at the alternatives. <br><br>Right now, anyone can play the "Create Your Own TLD" game at zero cost and without reference to ICANN, simply by registering Dashcom (instead of Dotcom) Domains. New Dashcoms are highly memorable and relevant web addresses such as "travel-com", "music-store" and base-ball. Available in any language, even some Facebook Emoticons can be used (eg: musical notes "-"). <br><br>This is something thats totally outside ICANN's remit and control. Currently resolution is via an APP, although new ISP links are coming online to make that unnecessary.
  • RE: ICANN to open up new Internet domain names: who benefits?

    The lawyers and the registrars will make a ton of money on this, everybody else will suffer.

    The current domain name ending was supposed to be a classification system to aid routing, not a branding opportunity. ICANN would have done better to just concatenate and eliminate the suffix over time, since modern networking algorithms really don't need it to operate. In the final analysis, this is just a cold-blooded attempt by the registrars to line their own pockets.
    terry flores
  • RE: ICANN to open up new Internet domain names: who benefits?

    it's just for rich companies and not for normal people. $183,000 for 1 tld !!!
  • The greedmasters play everyone else pays

    Great more domain names for spam to come from.
    The losers need to fix the bogus domains before they give more out.
    Reality Bites
  • SNL had the gTLD thing figured out years ago...

    Great. Next stop? Dillon Edwards can finally register clownpenis.fart.
  • RE: ICANN to open up new Internet domain names: who benefits?

    I think that I will not do business with any company that pays this much for a domain name - because I just know those costs will be passed on to consumers like me.
  • that's just whackadoo greedy

    I can see no other point to this than to fleece the net. I guess it's good that they're targeting the rich.. but then again it's only the rich that have access to this "unleveling".