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June 13, 2012

ICANN Domain Name expansion: expert reaction

CBR takes a look at some of the reaction to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) revealing the list of more than 1,930 applications of generic Top-Level Domains in its process to expand the Domain Name System (DNS) of the net.

By Cbr Rolling Blog

Campbell Newell, Partner at Marks & Clerk LLP

The sheer number of applications – especially given this is only the first round – goes to show that the demand for branded or otherwise customised domain names is very much there. It has not been, as some speculated last year, a damp squib. As commerce continues to migrate online, and the internet embeds itself into more and more aspects of everyday life, brand and reputation are becoming more important than ever before. So it makes sense for companies and organisations to seize the opportunity to distinguish themselves like this."

Nonetheless, not all applications on this list will represent a proactive desire to incorporate a branded domain name into marketing strategies. Some applications will have had a defensive motivation, i.e. businesses and organisations wishing to ensure that a certain domain name cannot be used – or abused – by others.

David Thomas, Head of Sedo UK

Will domain names such as .sucks add any real value to the Internet? We’ll have to wait and see. But certainly some legal and marketing budgets could be hard hit once the domain names have been evaluated and go live. Perhaps more concerning was how dominant North American companies were in the application process. With cost being seen as a major barrier, just 17 applicants were from Africa raising questions about how representative the process has been in terms of opening up the Internet to new communities.

"Yet, when all is said and done too often we forget that the Internet is still young and evolving; today is a good reminder of that. Arguably the ‘Big Reveal’ is one of many future innovations that will change how we connect and communicate online. As Rod Beckstrom himself said, up to 1,000 domain names could enter the Internet within the next year. That’s mind blowing. In many ways today is a test case for the future. One thing is for sure; the Internet will never be the same once the new extensions go live next year."

Damian Herrington, lawyer in DLA Piper’s Intellectual Property and Technology practice

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The Reveal Day today marks the beginning of a lengthy period of evaluation and potential objections for the gTLD applicants, which is expected to last at least 9 months for straightforward applications and potentially much longer for contentious applications. All brand owners (whether they applied for a gTLD or not) will no doubt be keen to check whether any of the domains applied for are confusingly similar to their own brands, and to take appropriate action if that is the case.
Brand owners should look to check out the list ICANN has published today and consider whether they plan to file an objection and on which grounds (String Confusion Objection, Legal Rights Objection, Limited Public Interest Objection and Community Objection). They should also consider objecting to second-level domains within some of the new gTLDs going forward (the first of which are likely to be registered in March next year).

Lesley Cowley, CEO of Nominet

New Top Level Domains represent a major change in the landscape of the internet, and clearly more now needs to be done to raise awareness of the issues and implications for all internet users across Britain. Businesses need not panic if they haven’t yet considered them, but they should certainly watch developments, and develop a clear policy before the changes take place in 2013. In the meantime, having an established, trusted country code – such as domains ending in .uk – will remain one of the best ways to be found online.

Stephen Ewart, Marketing Manager for

We think that the new .anything domain name is the biggest thing to happen to the Internet since its inception. It’s a very bold move from ICANN to go from launching one or two domain name extensions a year to opening up hundreds of Top Level Domain names in this way. For the first time ever, we will see brands having complete control over their own gTLD. We will be watching with interest to see what their mission statement will say on how they plan to use this slice of Internet space. Our concern is that this could lead to more Facebook-style walled gardens as big brands seek to keep you in their own areas of the Internet. Make no mistake, this change to the domain name world will lead to more competition and consumer choice, but it could also be viewed as a silent privatisation of the web – for better or worse.

Carl Leonard, Senior Security Research Manager EMEA, at IT security firm Websense

There’s a real concern that cybercriminals could seek these new top level domains announced today to create legitimate looking websites using well-known brand names. It will be increasingly difficult for consumers to instinctively know what may be an illegitimate site carrying potential threats. These sites can then be used for phishing attacks or delivery of malware to unsuspecting visitors. For example – imagine you received emails from "" You might tend to trust these emails, but in the beginning at least, you wouldn’t necessarily be sure if they came from the institution in which you have accounts. ICANN will need to strictly enforce its policies and stringent evaluation procedures for generic top level domains so that the bad guys don’t get their hands on them.


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