Amazon's domain name land grab disputed... by Australia

22 Nov 2012
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Australia disputes Amazon grabbing domains based on generic terms, while UK sorts out ".rugby"

Governments around the world have filed complaints against a land grab on new top-level domains being created by ICANN - with the UK arguing against one: rugby.

ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, is opening up new terms to be used in top-level domains - the end of a web address such as ".com" or ".co.uk".

The move has led to a land grab for terms such as ".book" or ".search", with large corporations and small registry start-ups looking to get control of such TLDs.

The move attracted 1,930 applications - at a whopping $185,000 per domain - and now ICANN is working through disputes from companies asking for the same term and from interested parties complaining about generic terms being bought up and controlled by private firms.

Amazon is proposing to exclude any other entities, including potential competitors, from using the TLD

ICANN has released a list of potential TLDs complained about by governments, revealing a third of Amazon's initial 75 applications have been disputed.

Amazon's land grab garnered 28 complaints, mostly from Australia, which said terms such as "app", "book", "game" and "news" should be open for everyone, while Brazil and Peru even argued against the retailer trying to buy ".amazon" - saying the URL should be open to people doing conservation work in the actual Amazon.

The complaints don't mean the application will be blocked, but could lead to stipulations in the contract with ICANN guaranteeing other groups the right to use the TLD.

"Amazon is proposing to

exclude any other entities, including potential competitors, from using the TLD," Australia noted in a filing. "Restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition."

"Amazon should specify transparent criteria for third-party access to the TLD," Australia added. "These criteria should be appropriate for the types of risk associated with the TLD, and should not set anti-competitive or discriminatory conditions relating to access by third parties."

Other disputes

Five of Google's 103 TLD applications were also disputed with complaints including "app", "cloud," and "search", while Symantec's claims to "antivirus" and "cloud" were also under fire.

Overall, Australia argued against the most TLD names - a total 130 out of the 242 complaints filed, including ".wtf" and ".blog".

It disputed the use of the online acronym as a TLD saying it has "an overtly negative or critical connotation" and the applicant, a company called Hidden Way, wouldn't be able to support a "high number of defensive registrations" - such as by large firms looking to protect their brand.

Australia argued ".blog" and other widely used words including ".search" and ".town" were simply too generic to be controlled by a single firm.

Rugby scrum

The UK stepped in on a single term - ".rugby" - and then only because three groups applied. The UK authorities chose to back the International Rugby Board, saying it was the official governing body for the sport, asking the other two firms to withdraw their applications.

Governments aren't the only ones that can file complaints with ICANN. Anyone with an interest - such as competing companies - can also dispute the new TLDs. That consultation process is still ongoing, so it's not yet clear exactly which names will end up in use when the new domains are announced next year.

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