The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the California-based non-profit that manages the world of internet domains, is poised to throw the internet’s doors open. On Monday in Singapore (Sunday night in North America), ICANN is expected to approve a dramatic expansion of the generic top-level domain (gTLDs) menu that brands – including global gaming brands – may want to take advantage of. The current palette of gTLDs contains just 22 options (.com, .net, org, etc. — actually, etc. isn’t a domain) plus a couple hundred country-specific codes, but if Monday’s vote goes as planned, ICANN could start accepting applications to create your own .whatever as early as January 2012.
However, your tailor-made domain won’t be cheap. In a bid to keep cybersquatters to a minimum, ICANN have set the bar pretty high. Applications will cost US $185k, and a further $25k annually if your application is accepted. (Estimates of actually getting a new gTLD up and running range as high as $500k.) You’ll also have to demonstrate that you’ve got some kind of legitimate claim to the proposed domain. In cases where multiple parties have legitimate claims, ICANN may have to hold an auction.
ICANN claims to have spent years preparing to take this step, but no doubt lawyers are salivating at the prospect of resolving all the potential conflicts that emerge as different groups lay claim to this and that magical word. A squabble erupted last year between the city of Las Vegas and surrounding Clark County over who deserved the .vegas domain. The city naturally claims it has the right to its own name, but County folks point out that when people hear ‘Vegas,’ they think of casino action, which now takes place mostly on the Strip, which sits outside city limits – in Clark County. The city gave their royal assent to bid for the domain to a group of private entrepreneurs, while the County bestowed that same honor on a separate group. Over to you, ICANN… Shall we start the bidding at $185k?
Speaking of domain-based squabbles, conglomerate 3M (makers of such products as Scotch Tape and Post-It notes) recently filed suit against a litany of domain registrars, DNS hosts and 11 ‘John Doe’ individuals for cybersquatting. For some odd reason, someone took it upon themselves to register dozens of gambling-related domains featuring ‘3m’, including 3mbet-thai.com, 3mbet.net, 3mbet-online.com, and so forth. Many of these sites allegedly include a logo that resembles the familiar 3m red logo. Why? Who knows? Perhaps some Asian credit bookie just got very used to writing his bets down on Post-It notes…