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June 30, 2008

Naming and Branding on the Internet Becomes More Interesting Thanks to ICANN

dotcom.pngICANN's announcement last week that they will approve many more domain naming extensions, commonly referred to as top-level domains, or "the familiar '.com' or '.org' suffixes at the end of websites," is exciting news for the future of the Internet, but may possibly cause just as many problems as it solves.

I fall into line with Ben Worthen at the Wall Street Journal who points out that ICANN's expansion of possible domain names will certainly herald a change in the way businesses experience and use the Internet.

I think that those companies that already are established in the dot-com world are unlikely to trade up, but the real problem will come when outside parties try to take trademarked names and use them as Internet monikers, something that is already a concern in Australia where few companies will be able to protect their brand naming by buying up "dot whatevers."

Frankly, any small or medium business will be locked out, regardless of locations.

Local cities may even get their own suffixes, while the proposal also allows suffixes that do not have roman letters, giving China and Japan something to celebrate.

But this sudden cornucopia of choices for domain naming could lead to a free for all if it is not regulated. It would be a shame to see a business having to buy every single possible suffix, simply so that others could not use it.

As in trademark law, businesses that have trademarks on a name with a "historical claim" to a name have priority (Worthen uses the example of Amazon, which would be open, at first, to the bookseller as well as to people associated with the rainforest), but having priority does not mean having exclusivity. Who, exactly, gets to use the ".shoe" or ".apple" or even ".cell"?

One thing is for sure: naming and branding on the Internet just got a whole lot more interesting.

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Posted by William Lozito at June 30, 2008 9:31 AM
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Naming and branding is becoming a whole lot trickier thanks to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers' decision to sell an unnumbered amount of new domain name suffixes. This flood of new domain name sales is expected to lead to major ... [Read More]

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