Top-Level Internet Domain Names to Multiply

4 July 2011

In just a few months, options for top-level domain names will multiply to include the names of companies, cities, geographical indicators, etc.

Recently, the ICANN (INTERNET CORPORATION FOR ASSIGNED NAMES AND NUMBERS), the governing authority for Internet domain names, has passed a new policy that will revolutionize the domain name system as we know it.

Currently there are 250 domain name endings: 22 top-level ones (such as .com or .edu, .org, etc.) plus those for each country (.es, etc.). After January 2012, full names such as brands, companies, cities, etc can be registered as top-level domain names.

Some experts have already warned of the danger of third parties “occupying” the registers for large brands, directly using the brand or derivatives or variations of same – so-called cypersquatting – to block them and make money off their subsequent sale. ICANN believes that this will be avoided as, on the one hand, the costs involved would act as a deterrent and, on the other hand, the new system of registration will be quite rigorous, which is why the registration expense has been raised considerably. The fees are approx. 185,000 USD per registration, and 25,000 USD for successive annual renewals. Said fees, obviously, are not within reach of just any company.

ICANN will be accepting registration requests from January 12, 2012 through mid-April of that year. After April 12th, the list of all requests will be published in order to deal with claims and disputes in the event of any conflict. Therefore, they do not anticipate that the first new Internet domains will be accepted and registered until early 2013 when the initial conflicts are resolved.

Some cybernaut associations have already alerted as to the possible negative effects of the domain increase, such as cybersquatting and the Internet phenomena of content fragmentation.

What will happen with geographic names that could have multiple “titleholders” such as the name of a river, for example, if various cities on its shore request it? Or with cities such as Barcelona, since there is more than one? The ICANN has designed a resolution system for these types of disputes and even an auctioning system for cases when it is determined that the solicitors have the same right. We shall see shortly.

For further information, please contact Belén Arribas: