The Wall Street Journal had a sit down with Akram Atallah, former CEO and current COO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). They’re the folks who handle the global administration of domains. Generally speaking, you could say they’re the entity that makes sure each unique Web property has its own online address.The interview focused primarily on the opening of the generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) system, which will incorporate a slew of new top level domain options (i.e., .secure, .shopping, etc.) on the World Wide Web. While Atallah played his cards close to his chest, there are a few points worth noting.
When asked about the 1,930 gTLD applications filed this summer, in addition to the amount of objections and comments submitted, Atallah stuck to his talking points and was quick to point out that no objections have been filed to date. He went on to explain the difference between objections and comments; the former being a fee process that could result in the halting of an application, the later costs nothing and does not interfere with the application process. Mr. Atallah was also sure to remind that the commenting period has been extended until September 26, 2012.
ICANN’s Digital archery competition was also a topic of conversation. The COO explained that they initiated the program as a way to help determine the order of gTLD application processing, since there wasn’t a clear, fair way to establish who gets their domain implemented first, second, third, et cetera. Atallah went on to say that the program didn’t work, for the simple fact that participants hated it. As such, ICANN scraped the plan.
The interviewer touched on the controversies surrounding the registration of potential new genric Top Level Domains like .gay. Many religious groups – and free speech watchdogs alike – have been submitting dueling comments to express their opposing views as to whether or not certain gTLDs should be allowed. Sleathly, Mr. Atallah pointed out that ICANN does not have a directive to deal with such disputes, that’s the purpose of the partnerships with International Chamber of Commerce, WIPO and International Center for Dispute Resolution, Atallah explained. He went on to reaffirm that ICANN, for all intent and purpose, is simply an administrative body that carries out the regulations that the community decides on.
In closing, Atlallah was asked about ICANN’s plans to transfer functions to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). He answered the question by first pointing out how well the ICANN system currently works, evidenced by how quickly and seamlessly the Web has grown in the past two decades. He then went on to indicate that ICANN was not invited to the annual ITU convention in Dubai this year, and that his team had yet to see any formal proposals. Atallah did say, however, that his organization is willing to consider ideas.
The new CEO is of ICANN is Fadi Chehade, who will most likely be overseeing the bulk of the gTLD process.
Are you in need of a lawyer to help with the generic Top Level Domain process? If yes, contact us today.
When there’s no reason whatsoever for a younger brother to annoy the crap out of his older sister, he might tell you he doesn’t know why he annoys her. Yet, deep down in the depths of his being he annoys his sister thinking, “Just because I can.” Sound familiar?
Let’s take that “Just because I can” mentality to a global level.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has opened the door – some think Pandora’s box – to expanding the number of top-level domains (TLD) from 22 to, well, a number that hasn’t been fully determined. ICANN opened the TLD registration evaluation process on January 12, 2012 on their TLD Application System, requiring applicants to pay a $185,000 application fee. The deadline for submitting TLD applications to ICANN is April 12.
Putting things in perspective, ICANN’s introduction of .xxx as a TLD won’t hold a candle to magnitude and scope of all the possible TLD’s that could arise. New TLDs could consist of almost any word, phrase, brand, etc.. Aside from things that are generally considered offensive, dropping $185,000+ for a new, unique TLD might be good for bolstering a company’s brand.
But, then again….
More TLDs, More Competition?
Part of ICANN’s rationale for offering more TLDs is to promote competition that will provide “dramatic expansion” to the Internet. That’s not how some Internet experts and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) see it. Many, including the FTC, are of the opinion that expanding the number of TLDs won’t create the kind of competition ICANN intended. Instead, many expect the dramatic expansion of opportunities for cybersquatters, scammers, phishers, and others who make life difficult on the worldwide web to create problems for legitimate businesses.
Businesses having to compete for their own brand by adding one or more additional domain suffixes to their collection is competition that plays well into the hands of domain registrars.
Remember what happened when .xxx hit the scene and became a TLD? Companies had to shell out big bucks to keep their image family friendly by registering their .com, .net, or .org names with a .xxx. Businesses that didn’t register their .xxx domain and fell victim to a fast-acting cybersquatter could face a huge legal battle to keep their business from having their trademark tarnished by being associated with an adult-themed website. Throw more TLDs into the mix and you can only imagine what kind of fight you’d be in if you had to fight for your business’ .[fill in the blank] – especially for multiple TLDs.
If that weren’t enough, ICANN added another dimension for consideration to domain registrants. The Latin alphabet has company. Under ICANN’s new release of TLDs, domain names can have Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, or other characters. That means your business will have to scour the internet for copycat domain names in different alphabets.
Is that the kind of competition your business can afford?
The FTC, Compliance, and ICANN
The FTC asked ICANN to implement certain safeguards to protect consumers from fraud and scams before opening the new TLD registration period. Safeguards including:
- Ensure Whois data is accurate in order to verify the identity of those registering TLDs.
- Fortify their compliance program.
- Implement a program to identify risks to consumers while evaluating TLDs.
We’ll see how ICANN reacts as the TLD registration process continues to unfold.
If you’re concerned about what new TLDs will do to your online business, speak with an experienced Internet lawyer to help you understand the implications ICANN’s TLD expansion.