The Internet Committee for Assigned Names and Numbers, a committee commonly known as ICANN, is the controlling force behind the domain names that organize every website that exists on the internet. Domain names are organized in an efficient way based on three levels: top level domains, second level domains, and third level domains.
The main top level domains are com, net, org, and the country code domains. Below that it gets split up into varying names based on whatever the website owner requires.
Domains are incredibly important to many businesses and are vital in keeping up virtual appearances and brand recognition. The difficulty with multiple top level domains is that when one domain name is registered, it is also available in a similar form on another top level domain; this has caused many instances of fraud, copyright infringement, and frustration for large businesses who wish to control all similar domains to protect their company.
A while ago ICANN announced that they were considering allowing more top level domains to the list. Immediately companies became worried and outraged because this would open up numerous doors for scammers to apprehend a domain and begin trademark infringement.
On Tuesday Lawrence Strickling, the administrator of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, strongly suggested ICANN should help minimize the need for businesses and companies to purchase top level domains that contain their name. Strickling stated:
“In meetings we have held with industry over the past weeks, we have learned that there is tremendous concern about the specifics of the program that may lead to a number of unintended and unforeseen consequences and could jeopardize its success”.
ICANN did acknowledge Strickling’s suggestions and announce that each one of the top level domains would cost an astonishing $180,000. This high amount should be enough to deter most users with malicious intents however the applications for these domains will start being accepted on January 12 so we won’t really know until we see the new registries up and running sometime afterwards.
ICANN source stated that they intend to go slow, however there are no current delays on the progression of the top level domain expansion. Jim Lewis, a tech expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, stated that the high cost of the top level domain registrations would indeed deter most bad registry holders however companies are mostly concerned with brand dilution so ICANN’s decision to move slow is definitely better.
Unfortunately it seems that large companies will have to continue to spend more and more money on monitoring the internet for trade mark violations and will now have to increase their monitoring due to the added domains.
“The problem is the history and the history has been that ICANN has not been responsive,” said Jaffe. Dan Jaffe is the Executive Vice President of Government Relations for the Association of National Advertisers. Only time will tell how ICANN is going to handle these new top level domains and if businesses will indeed have to spend countless more on registering unwarranted domains just to protect their name.