11/25/19

The Rumble About the Jungle: The Fight Over Dot Brand gTLDs and Geographic Names


The Rumble About the Jungle: The Fight Over Dot Brand gTLDs and Geographic Names

J. Spencer Sanders II

In January 2012, The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”), the non-profit responsible for the maintenance and operations of the Internet, created a program designed to increase the number of generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”). The program’s purpose was to address the demand problem associated with gTLDs, increase competition, customer choice, and innovation. The first expansion closed in April 2012 and brought in over 1,900 applications for new gTLDs. The program came with its fair share of problems, with some applicants running into issues when applying for brand specific gTLDs. Specifically, the e-commerce giant Amazon’s application came under fire by countries in the Amazon rainforest region. The clothing company Patagonia and the hotel chain Shangri-La had similar problems with their gTLD applications for Patagonia and Shangri-La. After official opposition from representative members from each of the countries on ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, the applications were put on hold and official processes started to decide whether the gTLD applications would be allowed to proceed. Issues over geographic name gTLDs and property rights in trademarks arose and the parties are still battling it out. The ICANN board needs to make changes in the promised second round of expansion to avoid these problems happening again. 

101 J. Pat. & Trademark Off. Soc’y 101 (2019)

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