ICANN Plan to Create New Domains Under Fire

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. - While a plan by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers could allow companies to launch domains with their own extensions - such as .pepsi or .ford - many major businesses are asking for the plan to be scrapped because of the potential costs involved.

"Cancel new TLD launch," Denise Yee, senior trademark counsel at Visa, wrote in a latter dated Dec. 12 to the organization, TechWorld reported. "Although ICANN is firmly committed to implementing its new TLD program in 2009, there appears to be many unanswered questions related to whether sufficient evidence of demand exists for new TLDs, and if not, whether it is appropriate to launch such a costly initiative."

ICANN collected comments through Monday on the proposal, which would launch between 200 and 800 new generic top-level domains. ICANN officials claim the plan will provide more choice and competition on the Web, but major businesses are against the plan saying it would be too costly for them to purchase every domain that features their trademarked business names. Other concerns include consumer confusion and devaluation of existing domain names.

"ICANN's contemplated expansion of the domain name space will provide marginal, if any, additional benefit to trademark owners while vastly increasing the associated risks and costs," Daniel Poliak, associate general counsel of Adobe Systems, wrote in a letter to ICANN.

As of Sunday, more than 90 comments had been filed, and the majority of the comments were critical of ICANN's plan, TechWorld reported.

Many of the letters asked ICANN to either drop the plan altogether, or create a system where applicants for new gTLDs prove they own a trademark before purchasing specific domains.

If ICANN moves forward with its plan, new gTLDs are expected to be made available as soon as the first quarter of 2009.