ANA To ICANN: 'Oh No You Can't,' Domain Plan Would Be 'Disastrous'

The Association of National Advertisers this morning sent a strongly worded letter to the Web domain authority Internet Corporation for Assigned and Numbers (ICANN) warning that its plan to offer new, simple brand-named Internet domains would have "potentially disastrous consequences" for marketers if implemented as proposed. The letter, which was addressed to ICANN President Rod Beckstrom, said the plan, which would enable any third-party to apply for top-level domains utilizing simple names, is likely to cause "irreparable harm and damage" to marketers, "contravenes the legal rights of brand owners," and "jeopardizes the safety of consumers.

The letter follows public comments the ANA made July 29 to the U.S. Department of Commerce, as part of a public review process before the new plan goes into effect in January.

"By introducing confusion into the marketplace and increasing the likelihood of cybersquatting and other malicious conduct, the ICANN top-level domain program diminishes the power of trademarks to serve as strong, accurate and reliable symbols of source and quality in the marketplace," ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice stated. "Brand confusion, dilution and other abuses also pose risks of cyber predator harms, consumer privacy violations, identity theft and cyber security breaches. The decision to go forward with the program also violates sound public policy and contravenes ICANN's Code of Conduct and its undertakings with the United States Department of Commerce."

Liodice added that the timing of the plan couldn't be worse, creating new costs and uncertainty for brand marketers "in the middle of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression."

The new ICANN program would enable anyone prepared to pay $185,000 to apply for Web the simple brand domain names, which the ANA said would create a "Hobson's choice" for established brand marketers that might need to divert "marketing, legal, financial and technical resources" to applying for, managing and protecting their top-level domains or "risk band dilution."

"They are essentially being forced to buy their own brands from ICANN at an initial price of $185,000," Liodice noted.

The ANA's letter requests a written response from ICANN by Aug. 22.

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5 comments about "ANA To ICANN: 'Oh No You Can't,' Domain Plan Would Be 'Disastrous'".
  1. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , August 4, 2011 at 10:47 a.m.

    It is like patent trolling and domain trolls. Buy for $185,000 and sell it for a million or some such number. Google, for one, no doubt with their cash on hand buy up numerous words and not for the sake of resale. But it would make search a whole lot more profitable when people can't find what the .blank they need.

  2. John Jainschigg from World2Worlds, Inc. , August 4, 2011 at 10:50 a.m.

    This is priceless.

    Poor ICANN. They tried so hard to design the vetting process around gTLD 2.0 (or is it 3.0) to make those good old Rotary and CofC boys and girls happy. This time around, they really tried NOT to do 'the internet thing' and just give away custom top-level domain extensions to any hippy who wandered into the office.

    But there's just no satisfying the Illuminati, is there? 'A disaster!' 'Child molestation!' 'Brand impersonation!' 'A heavy tax on poor, oppressed marketers.' LOL!

    Srsly, what's their problem? ICANN is turning an aspect of TLD naming into a new feature of optional relevance to branding. They want to avoid squatting and lawsuits, so they've put a stiff cost and a real application process around it. So, y'know, if Nike is having such a bad year that they can't find $185,000 ($2.5 billion advertising budget, 2011) to own their TLD, let them ... y'know ... NOT own their TLD.

    IMHO, ICANN should institute a sliding scale of pricing on these things from $50 to $10 million USD based on the inverse of US federal taxes paid in 2010 to gross revenue, soften the application process so that anyone who can whistle the opening riff from China Cat Sunflower gets their TLD of choice, and green light agglomeration so that '.cokepop' and '.nikeboom' are considered different from their roots. Let's dilute some brands.

  3. Andre Szykier from maps capital management , August 4, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.

    Esther Dyson must be on crack to come up with these kind of ideas. Who gets to decide? ICANN? Sounds like another power grab by an antiquated group of elders.

    Let's focus on better naming server networks that cannot be hacked or promotion of ipv6 or dedicated networks for MTM connections...

    Better yet, eliminate ICANN by removing funding as the GOP has done to the US federal agencies like the TSA.

  4. J S from Ideal Living Media , August 4, 2011 at 3:02 p.m.

    ICANN's response:

    "Yeaaaah.

    "But, this way we make lots of money!"

  5. Chris Nielsen from Domain Incubation , August 4, 2011 at 5:22 p.m.

    Pretty funny, for a number of reasons. First of all, ICANN never "could" in the first place and that's why it's more commonly known as "I can't".

    They keep making up new "proucts" and then look for a market for them. While owning your own TLD could make sense for a number of reasons, I don't see it for brands. If Nike got .NIKE, then what domains would they have Nike.Nike? Com.Nike? shoes.nike? Or would just entering in "nike" work at that point? Maybe THAT would make it worthwhile... Real direct navigation.

    But to me the thing that makes the objections funny is the fact that most domainers already KNOW they can't use a domain name with a trademark if they don't want potential problems. Who wants to register an entire TLD with a brand for $185 only to risk losing it in a dispute?

    I see it as a silly response to a silly idea.

    Why doesn't the ANA put pressure on ICANN to require trademark checks for all domain name registrations? If there is not a clear ownership connection to a mark, you need to provide more information to the registrar. That would address a current and real problem that is not silly. :-)