From ICANN to ICAN’TJune 13, 2012 4:20 pm ·
Have you ever wanted your own domain suffix? You had a chance this year. From Jan 12th to may 30th of this year, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is helping to open applications for new generic top level domains (gTLDs). You are probably familiar with the standard ones, .com, .net, .org and .info, but now there is going be a whole new set of gTLDs to familiarize yourself with. Everything from .AAA to .zulu and even foreign language suffixes, .дети, .العليان , .中信, etc.
The Opposition to new gTLDs
Sounds great right? But not everyone is on board. A number of companies, including Coca-Cola and Kellogg’s, have opposed the new suffixes and signed a petition to stop their release. Among some of their concerns are the excessive costs ($185,000 to apply and then a $25,000 yearly renewal fee), potential harm to brand owners and the possibility of predatory practices that could harm businesses and consumers. So if you are a gift basket company you are going to need to buy domains for .gift, .gifts, .give and .giving in order to protect your brand. This will increase expenses for smaller businesses, making it harder to compete against larger, more established companies that can rush in and purchase all application domains at once.
Here’s a problem: What happens if a registry company gains the rights to .cocacola and Pepsi decides to get into the domain? Now you have www.pepsi.cocacola, and that is definitely confusing brand identity. Now Pepsi can run campaigns across its .cocacola domain in an effort to distort the Coca-Cola brand. As it stands though, no one has yet registered .cocacola; I’m just using it as an example. The existing problem is from companies of the same name vying for the same suffix. Whoever ‘wins’ the suffix will be able to control the release of domains to competing companies.
On the other side would be if Ford gets the rights to .auto and prevents any other company associated with the auto industry from obtaining a .auto domain. That locks out Chevy, GMC, Audi, BMW, and many others, not to mention mechanics, parts manufacturers, auto publications and the list goes on. The real example is Google. They have an application in for .car, but they don’t make cars. They have developed a self-driving car, but it’s built into a Toyota Prius.
Sponsored domains vs. general domains
ICANN has a set list of sponsored top level domains, which are restricted to the industry which they are named after. The example here is .aero, which is reserved for companies within the air-transport industry. This helps prevent any sort of confusion as to what the domain is for. So you couldn’t have taxi services on .aero; they would have to stick to .taxi (which has three different companies applying for the specific suffix) or one of the existing general TLDs, like .com or .net.
This is definitely a complicated subject with arguments for and against. Using generic terms for gTLDs makes the most sense, but the argument turns into one of, ‘What is a generic term?’ It’s the kind of argument that follows the ‘What is the definition of is?’ logic. Or Apple could apply for .apple, which does make sense in context, but it is also arguable. Amazon and Google, along with 6 others are applying for .music. Music is a generic term, but now it will come can become wholly associated with whichever company secures the suffix.
Continuing the ICANN gTLD conversation
I am sure there is a lot more to this that I am missing. As this process unfolds over the next year there will no doubt be more discussion and hopefully more public debate over the formation of these new suffixes and what it means the world wide online community.
Please leave a comment with your thoughts or anything thing you think should be added in order to help everyone better understand this issue.
For more information on the ICANN gTLDs…