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ICANN Can – and Will – Open the Doors for New Domain Names Thursday

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 10, 2012 11:22 AM

Plenty of brands (not to mention lawmakers and regulators) are not happy that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (aka ICANN) is going right ahead — despite 11th hour hearings — and opening the doors Thursday for a possible barrage of applications for new generic top-level domain names (.brandchannel, anyone?)

There are currently about 20 such domains (.mil, .edu, .gov, etc.), while so-called gTLDs will add the likes of .canon as companies can snap up their brand names as domain suffixes. It’s taken more than six years of hemming and hawing, but even on the eve of dotbranding, the move is still creating controversy among brand holders.

The fear is that those doors will turn into floodgates, and brands will find cybersquatters registering for their trademarks or similar words to their trademarks. The $185,000 registration fee should scare some off, but it also is a hefty price for corporations to pay to make defensive registrations. Reuters reports that Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, sent a letter to ICANN last Tuesday asking the organization to find ways to make it so such registrations aren’t needed.

"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," Strickling wrote, according to Reuters.

Rod Beckstrom, ICANN's president, told Adweek that the U.S. government has a seat on ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee and has been able to address its qualms directly. He also noted that applications won’t just be awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. Continue reading...

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ICANN on The Hill: House Committee Echoes Anti-gTLD Chorus

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 15, 2011 10:58 AM

Yesterday's hearing by the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the House Energy and Commerce Committee added to the push-back in Washington to ICANN’s imminent plan to introduce generic top-level domains (gTLDs) ushering in the likes of .nike, .ford and other potential branded URLs.

In rare bipartisan unity these days, Republicans and Democrats reiterated concerns articulated last week in a similar hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee.

"I don't think it's ready for prime time," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., chairman of the subcommittee. “The more we do our role, the more ICANN may take a second look at it. Based on what I heard today, they should delay.” (Walden also cited an Apple example that hinted at his own confusion on the issue.)

Advertisers have been lobbying hard against the ICANN initiative and Dan Jaffe, EVP of the Association of National Advertisers, (ANA), testifying on behalf of its Coalition for Responsible Internet Domain Oversight (CRIDO), said the plan is a “reckless experiment” that threatens business and consumers.

"The ICANN program would pile billions of dollars of cost onto a challenging global economy," Jaffe testified. "These are resources that could be much better spent on job creation. This is not merely a bad policy choice but a serious threat to the legitimate interests of both companies and consumers on the Internet. We believe that both the decision and the process ICANN followed are fundamentally flawed and that the roll-out should be delayed.”Continue reading...

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Domain Game: Universities Snap Up Academia.XXX

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 14, 2011 01:01 PM

Brands are waiting to see what happens with ICANN's gTLD program launch, with a second hearing (following last week's grilling) taking place today in Washington.

In the meantime, another domain game — the introduction of .xxx website addresses — is convincing trademark-holders and brand marketers to protect their name and reputation from purveyors of adult content who they fear could sabotage their good names. Nowhere is this more true than for academic brand managers.

The ICM Registry gave trademark holders a one-time chance to pay $200 per address as a blocking charge in a ‘sunrise sale,’ and among the first academic brands to step up was the University of Kansas, buying kansas.xxx, rockchalkjayhawk.xxx, jayhawks.xxx, and more recently, kustore.xxx, kugirls.xxx and jayhawk.xxx for about $3,000 according to the AP.

"It's truly a preventative blocking measure, blocking others from doing it," commented Paul Vander Tuig, the university's trademark licensing director, to USA Today.

As we noted earlier this month, the scandal-rocked Penn State snapped up some .xxx domains to avoid further embarrassment. Carnegie Mellon, Indiana, Purdue, Pittsburgh and The University of Missouri have followed suit, with the latter securing missouri.xxx, missouritigers.xxx and mizzou.xxx.Continue reading...

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ICANN Urged in Senate Hearings to Slow Down Internet Domain Name Expansion

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 8, 2011 06:50 PM

With ICANN’s opening of the application period for new generic Top Level Domains (gTLDs) one month away, attention is being paid in Washington, D.C. with two hearings this week, or, as Domain Name Wire wrote, “Get ready for representatives to pretend like they know about domain names.”

This morning’s U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing aimed to "examine the merits and implications of this new program and ICANN's continuing efforts to address concerns raised by the internet community."

In an piece titled “ICANN opens pepper-spray, fires in own face,” Kieren McCarthy, CEO at .Nxt, Inc., who believes the hearing's witness list “is stacked against the program,” wrote:

“Having spent seven years putting together plans for the greatest expansion of the Internet, and with applications for potentially thousands of new extensions due to open in just over a month, ICANN should be riding high. Instead it is the focus of not one but two Senate hearings this month and a huge campaign that includes giants such as Procter & Gamble, Hewlett Packard, JC Penny, Johnson & Johnson and Kellogg's to get ICANN to either delay or restructure the program."Continue reading...

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As .XXX Goes Live, ICANN Ushers in Virtual Red-Light District

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 7, 2011 11:02 AM

The Internet got a lot smuttier yesterday as 100,000 plus websites in the newly approved ICANN .XXX top-level domain went live.

Proponents, along with the ICM Registry which owns and regulates the .XXX top-level domain, argue the move makes it easier to avoid adult content as the X’s are clear signals about the content.

Critics, however, claim the lack of requirement for providers of adult content to use the .XXX TLD will encourage sexually explicit material to flourish anew in other domains, making it more difficult to restrict, and might even lead to legislation mandating the new triple X domains for ‘sexually explicit’ content, leading to further litigation about free speech and jurisdiction.

Luxembourg-based Manwin, which manages Playboy.com, YouPorn, xTube, and other sites, recently filed suit against ICANN arguing that .XXX creates a virtual monopoly and adds unnecessary costs to doing business in that space.

“We oppose the .XXX domain and all it stands for. It is my opinion that .XXX domain is an anticompetitive business practice that works a disservice to all companies that do business on the Internet,” said Fabian Thylmann, managing partner, Manwin.Continue reading...

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U.S. Senate Committee to Review ICANN's gTLD Proposal on Thursday

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 5, 2011 03:02 PM

A tsunami of opposition to ICANN’S January 2012 expansion of top level domains has resulted in a U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation full committee hearing to “examine the merits and implications of this new program and ICANN’s continuing efforts to address concerns raised by the Internet community.” 

The hearing will be held Thursday, December 8, at 10:00 a.m. EST. Press will be welcomed on a first-come, first-served basis, while the public can virtually attend the Senate Commerce Committee hearing via a webcast.

The opposition of the 100+ brands and organizations in CRIDO (the Coalition for Responsible Domain Oversight) will be presented by the Association of National Advertisers exec team of Bob Liodice, President and CEO; Dan Jaffe, EVP of Government Relations; and Doug Wood, general counsel.

The growing alliance views the gTLD program as "harmful," allowing organizations and companies to apply for generic or branded top level domains (the names to the right of the ‘dot,’ e.g. .com, .net, .org.), with brands such as Ford, GE and HP concerned about cybersquatting and related issues.Continue reading...

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ICANN on the Hot Seat as Domain Debate Gets Heated

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 30, 2011 11:14 AM

As the January 12th opening of gTLDs (top-level domain names) looms, the Association of National Advertisers president and CEO Bob Liodice is stepping up the organization's campaign against ICANN.

That's the body which is preparing to expand URL names from the current list of 22 approved top-level domains (such as .com, .net, .org, .edu and country suffixes) to include generic .anything names such as .nike, .google, .pepsi, etc.

In a video released this week, Liodice takes issue with ICANN's claim that it has gone through a "laborious process" to gain consensus for its generic top-level domain expansion program, which is facing mounting criticism not just in America.

Liodice (whose views are opposed by Forrester) counters that there are more than 100 organizations and brands standing with the ANA in opposition to what he calls a "harmful program," with brands such as Ford, GE and HP concerned about cybersquatting, among other issues. ICANN, still stinging from the .xxx domain debacle, is recruiting an "independent objector" to assess gTLD applications in a position that would commence in April.

Click here for more on the pros and cons of ICANN's dotbrand URLs initiative from a branding and naming perspective, and tell us what you think: Should brands fear gTLDs, or does it represent a great opportunity to solidify branding on the web?Continue reading...

personal brands

In the News: AIG, David Beckham, VW and more

Posted by Shirley Brady on November 22, 2011 08:55 AM

In the News

AIG's former CEO, Hank Greenberg, sues U.S. government and Federal Reserve Bank for $25 billion over takeover.

Bill Gates testifies in Novell suit vs. Microsoft.

Cadbury's trademarks its distinctive shade of purple.

David Beckham's legacy starts to be assessed as Los Angeles Galaxy ending looms and Paris beckons.

Donald Trump estimates the Trump name's worth at $3 billion.

eBay buys Hunch to help discern individuals' taste. 

GE expands to Iraq.

GM retools former Saturn site and prepares to manufacture China autos in Egypt.

HP reports spending $3.3 billion on WebOS as Meg Whitman sets course for turnaround.Continue reading...

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