Google, Amazon Among Most Active Pitching ICANN for Domain Names

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2012-06-13
 
 
 

Google and Amazon will see their competition on the Web and in the cloud expand into the rush for new Internet top-level domains.

The two companies were among the most active tech firms in putting in applications for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), filing at least three dozen each€”including making a pitch for at least 17 of the same ones.

After seven years of planning and six months after beginning to accept the applications, ICANN€”the global organization that manages Internet domain names and addresses€”on June 13 revealed the list of 1,930 applications filed by more than 1,000 organizations that want control of new gTLDs. Currently there are 22 that are being used, from .com and .net to .gov, .org and .edu.

That€™s going to change, according to ICANN officials. By sometime early next year, there could be as many as 1,000 new gTLDs, a move that will mean greater choice for consumers and greater competition in the industry.

€œWe are standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation, innovation that means new businesses, new marketing tools, new jobs, new ways to link communities and share information,€ ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom said during a conference call with journalists June 13.

It hasn€™t been an entirely smooth process getting to this point. Some law enforcement agencies have worried that expanding the number of gTLDs by so much will benefit spammers and hamper online investigations. There also have been concerns about the possibilities of cyber-squatters and counterfeiters, and that some businesses may feel forced to pony up the $185,000 application fee as a defensive measure to ensure that some other organization doesn€™t grab their domain name.

However, Beckstrom and ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz said there are nine steps in place to protect intellectual property, from a 60-day comment period to a formal complaint process. In addition, it is ICANN€™s job to expand the Internet and the opportunities it provides, Beckstrom said.

€œIt is our fundamental obligation to increase competition and consumer choice and to foster innovation,€ he said, adding that the program to rapidly increase the number of gTLDs €œdelivers on that.€

ICANN began accepting applications in January. Of the 1,930 filed, almost half€”911€”came from North America, with another 675 coming from Europe, according to ICANN. There were 303 from the Asia-Pacific region, 24 from Latin America and the Caribbean, and 17 from Africa. There were 116 applications for Internationalized Domain Names, which use scripts such as Arabic, Chinese and Cyrillic.

The complete list of applications can be found on ICANN€™s Website.

During a question-and-answer period during the press conference, there were also questions about the evaluation process for determining what gTLDs would be accepted. For example, two organizations applied for .sucks, which potentially could be damaging to a company that becomes the target of such a site€”such as if someone created a Website with the address of apple.sucks. Beckstrom said it will be up to independent evaluators to determine which domain names are accepted and which are rejected.

There also were questions around the process in place to deal with gTLDs that have been claimed by more than one organization. According to Beckstrom, 231 gTLDs were applied for by at least two organizations, and sometimes more€”13 applications were filed for .app, 12 for .inc, 11 for .home and nine for .blog.

That€™s the situation in which Google and Amazon find themselves. The two companies applied for the same gTLDs at least 17 times, from .book, .game and .dev to .map, .movie and .music. There also were other conflicts€”for example, both Google and Microsoft applied for the .docs gTLD, and both Google and Johnson & Johnson filed for .baby.

Control of such domain names is important. Whichever organization wins them will have influence over other companies looking to use them in their Web addresses.

Pritz said there were three steps that could be taken to resolve such situations, from having the companies work it out themselves to conducting an auction.

Ultimately, Beckstrom said, the success of the domain names that eventually are approved will not be determined by ICANN, the organizations that applied for them or the evaluators who OK them.

€œIt€™s up to those customers to pick the winners and losers,€ he said.

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