Wednesday 25 June 2008

New tlds: more trouble ahead for the big brands?

Writing for Intellectual Property Watch, Monika Ermert ("Brandowners Warn Against Cybersquatting, User Confusion From New Internet Domains") reviews the current debate regarding new top level domains which is proving so controversial. Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) -- whose meeting in Paris triggered Ms Ermert's article -- has been criticised in some quarters for the length of time taken in introducing new top level names, while trade mark owners object that they expect large-scale infringement when those new names are launched.

The article quotes Susan Kawaguchi (eBay global domain name manager) as observing that brand owners are not prepared to provide income for the new generic TLD registries during the sunrise periods during which early name registrations can be made. The same sentiment was echoed by Jay Scott Evans (senior legal advisor, Yahoo), asking why brand owners should have to invest large sums of money to protect their brands because ICANN did not put their marks on a reserved list that could be blocked in all TLD zones.

It is easy why brand owners should object to having to commit substantial resources to defending their prize assets, either by acquiring unwanted and unnecessary domain names containing their trade marks so that cybersquatters cannot seize them or by taking action to prevent uses of such sites that might have an adverse impact on the goodwill in their brands. It would be interesting to discover whether, when the next batch of tlds goes live, they stimulate more commercial activity among legitimate businesses or among the parasites that feed off them.

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