1,930 Applications For New Domains: .App More Desirable Than .SexPublished on 14 June 2012 @ 12:35 am
By Monika Ermert for Intellectual Property Watch
It is not .sex (or .sexy) anymore, it is .app that companies investing in new domains on the internet think most desirable: 13 applications to operate a future .app registry have been filed with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which revealed a complete list of 1,930 new top level domain (TLD) applications at a press conference in London on 13 June.
The biggest chunk of the applications (911) came from the United States, 675 from Europe, 303 from the Asia Pacific and 24 from Latin America. Some large Web corporations like Amazon and Google asked for considerable shares in addition to the well-established TLD registries like Afilias and VeriSign. Only 17 names were applied for by African organisations.
For the past seven years, ICANN has prepared the process to extend the domain name space and allow the addition of new name zones in addition to .com, .net and the roughly 260 country code TLDs (ccTLDs, such as .uk for United Kingdom) and bring some more choice. ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom said today (13 June) in London that ICANN now was delivering.
The ICANN press release is here.
“It is a historic day,” he said. The lack of innovation in the name space, domain name investor Frank Schilling, founder of a new registry-venture Unitymedia, wrote recently, had long driven people into the hands of social media platforms. Many trademark owners on the other hand are still complaining and warning about the potential negative consequences from the new name richness.
With the 1,930 applications revealed today – including 84 applications for communities and 66 designated for geographic locations from Rome to Sydney and 117 non-Latin-based script TLDs – discussions are far over.
One issue of contention is the names that have been applied for by several applicants. For instance, .app has been applied for by Google, Amazon, and Afilias plus 10 other companies from various parts of the world.
ICANN Senior Vice President Kurt Pritz said ICANN would allow for talks between the applicants for the same domain. Community TLDs would be privileged, he said when asked how ICANN would decide who should run names of high public value, like .web.
Altogether, 231 of the names have been applied for by 751 companies or organisations, with TLDs like .music, .movie, .web, .shop or .news being hotly contested.
As expected by many experts there were close to no attempts to “cybersquat” big brand names on the top level. Companies like .apple or .sap but also car manufacturers like Chrysler or BMW applied for their own names, as did several pharmaceutical companies (Sanofi, Merck and Abbott) and some associations.
The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), a trade association of pharmacy boards, wants to establish .pharmacy to address the problem of online counterfeit drug sales.
The domain .hiv was applied for with the hope of establishing a virtual red ribbon to spend more money on projects to help people with HIV/AIDS. The German Post applied for as many as four TLDs, including .trust and observers may be interested to see what the plans are for that. Interestingly, several classical media outlets like the Guardian, the Spiegel, Xinhua News Agency or Canal + have also applied for their own zones.
All strings will now undergo a four-month evaluation by external evaluators who will check financial, technical and organisational conditions.
At the same time there are several channels for filing objections, government “early warnings” and a 60-day public comment period.
“The first names could be in the root in the first quarter of 2013,” ICANN’s Pritz. Yet all those which fail the evaluation, are contested or are objected to will take much more time.
One more issue for complaints is the batching of the applications: only 500 selected according to an unusual digital archery system can be run through the process first. The rest have to wait for some months and “most want to be in the first batch,” Pritz said.
Names that led to some raised eyebrows right away were TLDs like .sucks or generic names in non-Latin scripts, like transliterations of .com in Arabic, Chinese or Japanese obviously in an effort to protect .com.
How Chinese and Arabic governments will react to the application of the Pontifical Council for Social Communication for “.catholic” in their scripts also remains to be seen. The objections will also be a test for the ICANN Government Advisory Committee (GAC) as there may be debates between western and non-western countries about names like .gay.
In addition, the upcoming ICANN meeting in Prague, Czech Republic, will see all the existing registry companies – .com-registry VeriSign, Afilias or Core – talking to their new competitors. This might involve the ambitious request for over 300 TLDs by registry Donuts, or Uniregistry, which partnered with well-known DNS-technology provider ISC, the British Cayman Island-based Top Level Domain Holdings, which is in for a lot of contested TLDs, or the IT and Web heavyweights like Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
With the opening up of the namespace a lot more lies ahead of ICANN, plus it is sitting on a pile of $350 million US dollars. The money had been collected to retrieve the costs for the complicated process, Beckstrom assured reporters. Money which would not be needed to fund the evaluation and application process will not go to ICANN operations, Beckstrom said, and the community would get to decide on what it would be spent.
Monika Ermert may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.