ICANN Provides Update on Internet Domain Name Proposal

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has provided an update on their proposal to greatly expand the availability of generic "top level domain names" or "gTLDs." (.com, .org, .net, etc.)  Under their proposal, a company or individual anywhere in the world could purchase a new gTLD that includes virtually any word or phrase, including company or brand names.  The update notes that ICANN received over 300 comments from 24 different countries about the proposal.  Paul Levins, Executive Officer and Vice President Corporate Affairs of ICANN pledged that: "All the comments and concerns will be considered and a response will be provided."

This was a positive development, as there were statements made several weeks ago in an online discussion by an ICANN official who appeared to marginalize and discount the serious concerns raised by a large number of companies, business groups including ANA and even the US government.

We filed comments last month with ICANN arguing that it would be premature to proceed further without a much more thorough risk/benefit analysis.  The proposal could impose major costs on marketers in order to protect their brands in the global marketplace.  In addition to serious concerns from the business community, ICANN received comments from the US Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).  Those comments stated that "it is unclear that the threshold question of whether the potential consumer benefits outweigh the potential costs has been adequately addressed and determined."

We will continue to work closely with our member companies and other industry groups to monitor developments and determine how best to proceed on this matter. Even though the formal comment period has passed, you may want to consider filing individual comments from your company to help keep the pressure on ICANN to address the serious concerns we have with this proposal.  In this regard, you may want to see our most recent communication to Paul Twomey, President and CEO of ICANN.

If you have any questions about this matter, please contact Dan Jaffe (djaffe@ana.net) or Keith Scarborough (kscarborough@ana.net) in ANA's Washington, DC office at (202) 296-1883.