Should Google, Amazon And Others Be Able To Lock Up New Generic Top Level Domains For Their Own Use?

from the wasn't-quite-the-idea... dept

For many years, we’ve noted that the entire setup of ICANN rolling out new top level domains (TLDs) was a complete joke, often driven by ICANN members who were in positions to be the registrars and registers for those new domains. Thus, all they seemed to do was create money out of thin air for those companies, since there was no actual demand for the TLDs, but companies felt obligated to buy them up anyway, to “keep them out of the hands” of critics, scammers or others. And, certainly a big fear when ICANN decided to offer up its big “generic TLD” setup, whereby anyone could make a play for any new TLD, was that the whole thing was a boondoggle for domain registers and registrars with which to set up a whole bunch of new tollbooths.

However, a funny thing happened along the way. While there certainly were a bunch of those kinds of TLDs applied for (many with competing claims fighting for the right to cash in), what became more interesting was the fact that the list of applications was absolutely dominated by Google and Amazon seeking to gain control over a very long list of TLDs. In fact, we noted that in many cases, Google and Amazon were lined up head to head competing over who would gain control over those TLDs. For example, they’re competing with each other (and with some others) for the rights to .book, .shop, .store, .free, .game, .search, .play, .movie, .show, .mail, .map, .spot, .talk, .wow, .you and .cloud. And both of those companies are going for a bunch of others where they’re not competing with each other. Google, for example, wants (among other things) .car, .dad, .mom, .dog, .family, .fyi, .plus, .tour, .prod, .here, .prof, .phd, meme., .lol, .day, .love and more.

As you look down the list, you begin to realize that while the initial fear of registers and registrars shaking down everyone to buy new domain names to “protect” their trademarks was a legitimate concern, there was a second serious concern as well: that a bunch of these new gTLDs were not being applied for to set up a registry where anyone could obtain those kinds of domains, but rather to lock them up for one company’s use. And while Amazon and Google are the most prominent players here, lots of other companies jumped in as well. Hasbro wants .transformers. Johnson and Johnson wants .baby (so do a bunch of others). Ralph Lauren wants .polo. Travelers Insurance wants the completely ridiculous .redumbrella, while Nationwide Insurance wants .onyourside. Monster Cable (of course) wants .monster.

While some of those more specific ones wouldn’t have any demand for anyone else to register anyway, there is a growing concern that companies might lock up certain TLDs, rather than make them available for registering. I’m sure lots of car companies would like But would that be possible?

Apparently, ICANN — whose boss has already admitted that they’re in way over their heads on these new gTLDs — is now considering whether or not such a use of a gTLD should even be allowed.

But companies such as Amazon, Google, Goodyear, L’Oreal and others also applied for a wide array of words and indicated that they would like to operate the registry as “closed” — meaning they may not allow other firms to buy what are known as second-level domains.

Clearly, companies want to own and control generic words as domains so that they can offer their services. But with that comes the possibility of blocking competitors who want to attach their brand to a term. For example, Ford might want to buy ford.truck but be blocked from doing so by the owner of .truck.

The article quotes someone from a hosting firm who notes that “It is inherently in the public interest to allow access to … new [generic top-level domains] to the whole of the Internet Community, e.g., .BLOG, .MUSIC, .CLOUD.”

Of course, there is the flipside to this argument as well — such TLDs that are simply locked up for a single company or service are also not on the market, meaning that they’re not another in the long list of domains companies feel they “need to buy” purely for defensive reasons. Either way, at least one (still unnamed) applicant who is competing with a bunch of these companies for a few of the new gTLDs is hiring people to lobby Congress and the EU Parliament not to allow firms to lock up any new gTLD.

In the end, I think our original conclusion still stands: the whole gTLD process appears to be a continuing boondoggle for certain companies, whether it’s to lock up certain TLDs or to sell off domains to people and companies who don’t really want them, but feel compelled to pay up anyway.

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Companies: amazon, google, icann

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Comments on “Should Google, Amazon And Others Be Able To Lock Up New Generic Top Level Domains For Their Own Use?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Of course, there is the flipside to this argument as well — such TLDs that are simply locked up for a single company or service are also not on the market, meaning that they’re not another in the long list of domains companies feel they “need to buy” purely for defensive reasons.”

Don’t worry. If there are THAT many top level domains, companies will quickly realize that buying ALL of them is an exercise in futility.

Also, if they’re actually going to make me type “.onyourside” at the end of their domain name, I’m not going to use that insurance company.

timmaguire42 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Right now, things are simple. almost every address ends in [dot] three letters. If it’s government, it’s .gov, if it’s nonprofit, it’s .org, anything else is probably .com

How is the public served by all this extra crap they have to remember?

And I agree completely, I am far less likely to visit .transformers than I am .com. If I have to type it in, I’m not going to bother.

out_of_the_blue says:

Why can't Ford "lock up" .ford?

Isn’t this (sort of Reverse Polish Notation) order good enough? Why would Ford want ford.truck TOO? Are they then going to want ALL combinations of several generic words? … Seems unlikely to me. It’ll work out, at least for reasonable cases.

However, GOOD point with giant companies that have the cash and interest to lock up MANY generic names with dog-in-the-manger attitude. Let’s just limit all corporations or subsidiaries from having over, say, six TLDs. — But at least you’re beginning to recognize that corpoations can be TOO BIG.

Question: WHY run this fairly interesting item late on Friday? After DULL tripe all week?

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up at same place!
Where “no evidence of real harm” means let secretive mega-corporations continue to grow.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Why can't Ford "lock up" .ford?

“Question: WHY run this fairly interesting item late on Friday? After DULL tripe all week?”

You were pretty dull this week, I’ll give you that. A lot of the stories were interesting – everything from courts attacking free speech right to book sellers fighting against DRM to the RIAA once again showing it doesn’t have a clue how to use the Internet. What’s the matter, no stories you can;t distort in order to make a pithy lie? You had to think about what was written? Poor baby…

But I love the way you think that Techdirt is now your personal blog, onl posting stories that interest you and screw everybody else’s opinion. Your obsessive idiocy truly knows no bounds. You’re certainly not on form. Even your “signature” is more pointless that normal.

Anonymous Coward says:

The original purpose of DNS was to organize domain names in a meaningful structured way.

Since that’s completely gone out of the window a long time ago maybe we can drop the whole .net, .com, . thing and get something else instead?

Something like, every new registration gets .new and people would get to vote (in an automated way) who gets the ‘top level domains’. So google would get .google etc in a way that’s relevant (decided by the public).

This would all be free of course (I’m sure you can get it sponsored by some internet companies).

Anonymous Coward says:


“Should Google, Amazon And Others Be Able To Lock Up New Generic Top Level Domains For Their Own Use?

Leading the witness…

ICANN is just like ALL Govts throughout history –
They become full of themselves,
Declare their righteousness,
Pass down ?what they consider wrong? or righteous,
Impose their will,
Repress the people,
Threaten the people,
Inflict their mandate by force,
Kill off the dissenters,
Rule by Fear.

Welcome to ICANN, may I imprison your future?

Anonymous Coward says:

I can’t wait for the .free to roll around I have some GG domains registered. Including and rofl. Though them two will remain inert I just want to say that I own them.

I also came across another good one to use for my email. rofl ^^

Anonymous Cowherd says:

TLDs are obsolete

TLDs are a waste of everyone’s time. It’s nothing but a pain in the ass to remember what meaningless suffix whatever site’s address had.

Since they don’t actually mean anything anymore, and anyone can have whatever random suffix they feel like anyway, they should get retired. Let sites choose their address freely down to the last letter. There’s no need to have “standard” suffixes since their standard meaning has been lost ages ago.

Selling “ownership” of additional suffixes is an irresponsible cash-grab that only creates more problems for everyone.

The Real Michael says:

Re: TLDs are obsolete

I’m not surprised. Capitalism will find ways to monetize everything under the sun. Heck, they have the gall to think that they’re in a position to sell the stars in the universe (yes, literally) to people so that they can own and name them.

The standard .com, .net and .org suffixes are good enough for me.

PaulT (profile) says:

Hmmm… Part of me thinks that companies shouldn’t be allowed to do this, but the other part of me simply thinks “who cares?”. All of these new TLDs are just a cash grab by ICANN, nobody will really use them so I’m not particularly bothered that ICANN gets all their cash from a handful of companies rather than more. I wish Google and Amazon hadn’t bothered, but if they wish to waste their money here while still providing decent services elsewhere, so be it.

Kevin (profile) says:

Icaan so Iwill

ICAAN is starting to look more like Hallmark Cards. Create a new “Special” day to sell more cards.
Companies have enough on their plate being having to register county based domains or ccTLDs (.uk; .au; and the rarely used .us) To fully protect a domain name one would need to register of 300 ccTDLs.
Now multiply those 300+ by the number of level one domain names ( or then do the math with alternative such as or we are already over whelmed with TDLs.
Enough is enough.

Anonymous Coward says:

I see where this is going.

IANAL defines some TLD’s as universal and the rest is left for the doggy dog world.

That until someone starts to sue IANAL for obstructing them from gaining a monopoly at some TLD, so IANAL will claim that it should always has the power to seize a TLD if it makes sense and others will of course disagree and throw tonnes of money at the issue to make it possible to close up TLD’s as they see fit.

This will turn into poop again.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:




Is doggy dog world like pronounced in the video of the beating of the naked young man that was humiliated in public.

Newark Patch: Arrests Made in Video Beating Incident

The expression although incorrect is frequently used by the hip hop crowd stills convey the same thing.

Youtube: Snoop Dogg – Doggy Dog World (Full Version)


Dog-eat-dog is an idiomatic adjective meaning ruthless or competitive. Doggy dog, when used in the phrase doggy-dog world, is an eggcorn resulting from a mishearing of dog-eat-dog. Dog-eat-dog

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It’s already been covered, but you have your acronyms mixed up. ICANN is the name of the organisation being discussed here. IANAL is an acronym which stands for “I Am Not A Lawyer”.

“doggy dog world.”

Unless your name is Snoop Dogg, the saying is “dog eat dog world”.

Other than that, you have a point, which is probably why nobody’s going to use these new TLDs seriously. Other than the hurdle of getting people to use them and the expense involved, it really does give ICANN even more power than they already do – and the organisation has already shown that it’s more than willing to agree to shut down .com domains over shaky claims.

Anonymous Coward says:

Well, slightly off subject. I registered a Domain name with Go Daddy. It is a D&D character’s name so not even remotely related to anything. I let it lapse for a couple of years and I just tried to re-register it and guess what, Go Daddy has the name and will sell it to me for an $80 negotiation fee along with whatever the supposed owner wants for it.

Lonyo says:

Reasonable solution:
If you own the trademark, you can keep the TLD closed.

If you don’t own the trademark, you must keep the TLD open, and you cannot charge unreasonable amounts to let people register a domain on that TLD. You can also reserve some domains for your own use, but you must actually use them within x months, otherwise other people should be allowed to use them.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you own the trademark, you can keep the TLD closed.

It’s not that simple. For one thing, trademarks aren’t worldwide, but the TLD system is. For another, they aren’t economy-wide. For example, Monster Energy Drinks and Monster Cables. Both (not to mention the Monster job board and probably others) have a legitimate claim on .monster.

For an interesting similar story involving Nissan Motors and Nissan Computers, see here.

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