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Google and Amazon lead applicants for new gTLDs

Google and Amazon are leading the way in applications for new gTLDs, according to a list of the 1,930 applications published today by Icann

Unveiling the list in London, Icann president and CEO Rod Beckstrom described it as “an historic day” adding: “The internet is about to change forever. A powerful change is coming.”

The 1,930 applications include 66 community applications and 116 internationalised domain names. There are 911 applications from North America, 675 from Europe, 303 from Asia, 24 from Latin America and 17 from Africa.

However, there will not be 1,930 new gTLDs at the end of the process as many applications are for the same string. There are 13 applications for .app for example and multiple applications for common suffixes such as .inc, .llc and .llp.

All of the applications will have to undergo extensive review, including for IP conflicts, in batches. Icann vice president Kurt Pritz said the first applications would probably be live towards the end of the first quarter of 2013.

Pritz also said that “Icann encourages accommodation” where there is more than one legitimate applicant for a string. Amazon and Google will be fighting each other (among other applicants) over .movie, .cloud and .book, for example.

Amazon has filed a total of 76 applications through its Luxembourg subsidiary, while Google has filed 100 using the name Charleston Road Registry.

One observer told Managing IP that it is likely that big applicants will trade applications so they can get those they really want.

Brand owners in the pharmaceutical, automobile and financial services industries are prominent in the list, while retailers and consumer goods are less so. Many of the world’s most famous brands are not represented, including Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Marlboro and Nescafe.

Many high-tech companies have applied for their brands, but the three big players in social media – Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter – have not. Apple has applied for .apple but not .iphone, .ipod, .itunes or .icloud.

Brand owners have been generally critical of the expansion of the gTLD system, calling it unnecessary and expensive. One brand owner told Managing IP today: “This is the next step in the privatisation of the internet.”

But at first glance they are among the winners from the programme so far. Most brand applicants will get the gTLD they want, as there appear to be few contested brand applications and none from cybersquatters. Some contests that do appear are for .guardian and .live (where Microsoft is competing with Google).

There may also be some brand applications such as .lincoln and .nationwide that are opposed by other interest groups.

The big challenge for rights owners comes from now on, as they seek to ensure protection at the second level. Jonathan Robinson, who is advising Afilias, said today: “This is virgin internet real estate that needs to be watched pretty closely”.

Beckstrom said that Icann had worked hard to protect rights owners, putting in place seven new mechanisms in addition to the two already existing.

In answer to a question from Managing IP, Pritz said that the Trademark Clearinghouse will be running by October, and brand owners will be able to register their marks then. A session on how the Clearinghouse will work is planned for Icann’s conference in Prague at the end of this month.

But Pritz admitted that more work needs to be done on the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS), as providers had so far been unable to commit to offering it in a cost-effective way. However, he said he was confident that a solution would be found by the first quarter of next year.

Robinson told Managing IP there is “room to improve and develop rights protection mechanisms” and urged rights owners to play a part in the process.

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