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ICANN TLDs: Get ready for domain name hell

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer

Until now .com has been king when it comes to domain names. ICANN is changing that by unleashing thousands of new top level domain suffixes upon the world.

A couple thousand applications have been submitted for new TLDs (PDF file)…each with a $185,000 application fee.

Of course, there’s competition. For example, Amazon, Google, and five other companies look like they’re heading to an auction to see who gets .music

Making some Internet lawyers happy, there’s going to be intellectual property fights clogging the courts in addition to mucking up the search engine results. Two drug companies are fighting over .merck with some interesting trademark implications if they don’t come to an agreement. Chances are the owner of the existing isn’t going to be happy about a new

Will these new TLDs be worth anything for search engine purposes? Google and Microsoft (Bing) seem to think so. Google appears to have applied for more than 100 of these TLDs. Microsoft wants 11 of them.

Barring a lawsuit preventing it, or a change of plans by ICANN, you should start seeing these new domain suffixes online by 2Q2013.

7 Internet Law Predictions for 2012

By Intellectual Property, Internet Lawyer

1. Hollywood Retreats

The entertainment industry thought it had bought enough politicians, plus foolish support by GoDaddy (now retracted), to ram through SOPA/PIPA legislation. Pretending to be about property rights, this horrible legislation would cripple ecommerce while allowing politicians in power to crush free speech online.

Now that Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. are fighting back, together with civil rights groups and social media, it looks like Hollywood will retrench and regroup until after the November 2012 elections. This battle isn’t over by a long shot. Look for the entertainment industry to try one last shot to push through SOPA/PIPA when Congress critters return to D.C. More lipstick will be put on this legislative pig and it will come back in 2013 under a different name (Protect the Children Act, Save the Puppies Act, Don’t Starve Grandma Act, etc.) designed to create more sympathy.

Let’s hope large ecommerce sites continue to fight and GoDaddy has learned its lesson.

2. Privacy Changes

As Congress deadlocks on Internet privacy legislation, look for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to move forward with additional regulatory protection for children. Either in 2012 or the following year, look for bans or severe restrictions on GPS tracking of children by smart phone apps.

In the meantime, the private sector will come up with additional ways to both protect and circumvent Internet privacy. Whatever comes out of Washington will be obsolete before it becomes law.

3. New Biz Opp Disclosure Requirements Ignored

Effective March 1, 2012, there are new FTC biz opp/work-at-home disclosure requirements. Expect most Internet marketers to ignore this requirement. Some will make disclosures that contain misleading information designed to fool consumers. Few will get caught. The FTC will grab some headlines by suing and confiscating assets of a couple of the really bad apples.

4. Internet Sales Taxes Move Forward

The Federal “main street fairness” Internet sales tax legislation will have the support of both Wal-Mart and Amazon. Expect crony capitalists at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to jump on the bandwagon.

Broke states (California, Illinois, etc.) will push heavily for a federal Internet sales tax on the mistaken assumption they will receive a chunk of the tax money from D.C.

The primary advantage that small business website owners have is that the November 2012 elections provide no incentive for the Republican House and the Democrat Senate to cooperate on agreeing to the time of day or anything else. Plus, there seem to be few Republicans in either house that want to face their constituents to defend imposing a new tax in the middle of an economic recession.

5. Want to bet?

It looks like the U.S. Department of Justice is rethinking its use of a 1961 law to arrest and prosecute the owners of Internet gambling sites. Expect broke state governments to push heavily for legalization of intra-state Internet gambling. In other words, these state governments are going to want the federal government to permit gambling sites to be licensed on a state-by-state basis for gambling only by residents within the one state where each site is licensed.

It remains to be seen whether traditional offline gambling interests will support or oppose such plans. Some of the major U.S. casino companies are already investing in joint ventures with European gambling sites with the expectation of rolling out U.S.-based sites once they become legal.

6. Denial of Service

In the interest of “homeland security,” the U.S. government will continue to arbitrarily shut down websites without affording due process in court. There will not be a backlash until the government overreaches and shuts down a social media website that has political backers on Capitol Hill willing to subpoena and grill those involved.

7. Icann of .Coke

The FTC will continue to pressure Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) about the foolish decision to sell .brands generic top level domain extensions for six figures. If ICANN proceeds, expect a wave of lawsuits to swamp the courts as Competitor A buys the .CompetitorB extension to steal traffic away from Competitor B.

…Wishing you the best in the coming year. Let’s hope the politicians don’t muck up ecommerce for small business owners. Congress doesn’t understand the Internet so it should just stay on the sidelines instead of ruining it for the rest of us.


Brands Could Replace Dot Com Domain Names

By Internet Lawyer

domain names brands

dot brand domain names are costly and a legal headache

Why are there so few domain names to choose from?

As it is now, few domain “good” dot com names exist for companies and individuals to choose from when creating a website because most of these .com domain names have been registered by others online. In other words, the .com suffix has been mined quite heavily by others, both legit businesses and cyber squatters. Lesser suffixes, like .me, .tv, etc. simply aren’t as attractive because their .com counterparts are already being used and most users surf the web based on the expectation that .com is going to be part of the domain name for a business.

However, an organization meeting in Singapore called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is expected to change everything to allow brands and even the most ridiculous words to be utilized as a domain name suffix.

How will brands be able to replace dot com domain names?

ICANN regulates and coordinates internet names, and pending the success of its board meeting in Singapore, it will probably allow brand names to replace dot com and the other traditional domain names in existence at this point. This new possibility means big things for major corporations and individuals as more creativity and advertising possibilities could transform the internet.

Though previously discussed, the Singapore meeting is the first serious attempt by ICANN to allow alternate domain names. The change has been speculated for several years now, but the confluence of users demanding more creative control over their websites, and major corporations desiring more advertising avenues has finally resulted in action.

What will the future of the internet be like if brand names could replace dot com domain names?

If the new change gets approved, instead of ending virtually every website with the domain name ‘dot com,’ companies could use their own brand name to end website addresses. For example, accessing the Coca Cola websites would probably consist of ending dot coke to an address. Creative minds could set up websites such as whattodoin.dallas or to give their websites a pizzazz missing when dot com dominated the internet.

Use of new domain names might, however, prove prohibitively expensive for all except the wealthiest or the major international corporations. The right to establish a .coke or .movie is expected to cost potential purchasers $200,000 or more. While all would benefit from the increased creativity allowed to be both expressed and viewed across the internet, few except the large companies could at first afford the initial transition away from the dot com phenomenon for which the internet has thus far been known.

Will Dot Brand Domains Names Fail?

There have been plenty of attempts to expand beyond dot com but so far .com, .edu, and .org remain the bread-and-butter for those online. Although .brand domains have appeal, the high costs make it unlikely these will become as popular as .com. And it’s hard to fathom why a large company would pay the extra fees for its .brand unless those registration costs were less than the cost of defending existing registered trademarks for the brand against anyone dumb enough to register the .brand as a squatter or competitor. From an intellectual property attorney’s standpoint, this would be a bonanza in legal fees as the large companies fight over the rights to .brand names.

For the near future, dot com domain names will remain top dog because they’re inexpensive to acquire and Internet users are conditioned to look for them.