As the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann), the organization that manages the address system on the Internet, gets ready to flood the Web with hundreds of new top-level domain names, companies with brands to protect are increasingly worried that it's going to cost them millions of dollars in defensive registrations at the second level.
In June, Icann received more than 1,900 applications for new top-level domains. Some generic domains, like .music or .news seemed rather harmless, but others, like .sucks could give brand companies a dot-headache trying to protect their good name on the Internet. The introduction of .xxx was a case in point.
Warning that Icann doesn't have an adequate system to protect brand names on the Internet, the Association of National Advertisers Thursday appealed once again to the Department of Commerce to put pressure on Icann at its upcoming board meeting next month in Toronto to adopt stronger trademark protection mechanisms, like a Do Not Sell registry list.
"Icann has provided consumers and the business community with tentative, incomplete and so far inadequate solutions," wrote Dan Jaffe, the Association of National Advertiser's evp of government relations. For nearly a year, the ANA has advocated a Do Not Sell registry list as a possible solution.
The ANA estimated the cost of defensive registrations for companies with 100 brands could range from $10.5 million to $28 million, and climb to hundreds of millions of dollars for the largest firms with thousands of brands. Those costs don't begin to include the legal costs to just monitor trademarks. For smaller companies and startups, the tsunami of new top-level domains could turn into a business killer.
Compounding what the ANA calls "staggering and cost prohibitive" defensive registrations was a report earlier this week in the Washington Report that some of the largest generic TLD applicants could have ties to cyber squatting and other criminal conduct.
"We are on the verge of grave threats to the stability of the Internet, so now is the time to act," Jaffe wrote.
Icann was not immediately available for comment.