Branded Top Level Domain Names: Help or Hindrance?

ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has voted to allow an unlimited number of new Top Level Domains. That means companies won’t be limited to just .com, but can go for.mcdonalds and .starbucks. On the face of it, the decision looks good for brands. But think again. The result could just be more confusion and more expense.

You STILL need a dotcom. Old habits die hard. People are still going to look for the Starbucks Web site by typing in “www.starbucks.com.” If you can’t own your brand as a .com, you are always going to fight an uphill battle, whether you are stuck with “www.acme.net” or “www.homepage.acme.”

If you own .starbucks, what URL are you going to use for your home page?  www.starbucks.starbucks or  www.homepage.starbucks?

As ZDNet columnist Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols writes, the addition of more top level domains mostly benefits domain name registrars. You have to pay to register your dotcom, and possibly your dotnet. Now you’ll have to pay even more to register your dotbrandname.  He says “For them, this will prove a license to print money. For businesses, who must protect their trademarks it will be a pain-in-the rump and some additional expense. I can already see people getting ready to grab the TLD “.cola” and waiting to charge Coke and Pepsi or the “privilege” of registering “coke.cola” and “pepsi.cola.”

This all assumes that you are able to show a “legitimate claim” to ICANN. Presumably, brand holders can protect their brands. But consider the brand “Delta.” Who gets .delta? The airline, the power tool company, the faucet company or the dental company or one of the thousands of “delta” trademark owners? And then you’ve got the problem of .beer or .insurance or any other “generic” top level domain claims. How do you decide between McDonalds and Burger King for ownership of .hamburger?

3 comments to Branded Top Level Domain Names: Help or Hindrance?

  • New Top Level Domains….But Not For You….

    As ICANN won’t even consider applications from individuals or sole proprietorships, effectively ignoring the interests and needs of the majority of Internet users worldwide. Add to this equation non-refundable fees of $185,000 per TLD (plus potentially unlimited annual costs/expenses) and how many new ICANN TLDs will actually be launched?

    ICANN’s main aims are to convince Internet users that they’re the only game in town and then try to herd everyone into a tiny part of an otherwise infinite universe. In this respect, ICANN has been quite successful. However, it’s rather like telling people that the only place they can shop on the entire planet is your local Safeway (not that one…the other one) and that really…..really, there’s nowhere else to go. Of course this is sheer nonsense and it’s understandable that people are starting to use Alternatives.

    Anyone can now create their own set of Top Level Domains at no cost and without reference to ICANN, simply by opting to register NON-ICANN Dashcom (not Dotcom) domain names. Dashcoms are highly memorable & relevant web addresses such as “business-com”, “music-store”, “basket-ball”. Now available in any language or text, even Facebook Emoticons can be used (eg: musical notes “♫♫-♫♫”).

    Here is a part of the Internet that’s totally outside ICANN’s control yet able to exist quite happily alongside it. At present, resolution is via an APP, but new ISP links are coming online to negate that need.

    It’s only a matter of time before other new options surface, and none of them will have anything to with ICANN.

  • LDMerriam

    Well said–and thank you for the additional information. Great comment.

  • Thank you for the opportunity to comment

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