Washington, D.C.—Last week, the Association of National Advertisers called “potentially disastrous” the Internet Corp.'s for Assigned Names and Numbers' proposed increase of the number of Internet address endings—called generic top-level domains—from the current 22.
This week, ICANN President Rod Beckstrom responded to ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice in a letter defending the organization's new gTLD program. “The June 2011 decision to proceed with the program followed six years of inclusive policy development and implementation planning,” Beckstrom wrote in the letter.
Beckstrom said ICANN specifically responded to previous complaints aired by the ANA, particularly the protection of trademarks and barriers to cybersquatting. “One clear directive of the consensus policy advice on which the program is built is that TLDs should not infringe the existing legal rights of others,” he wrote. “The objection process and other safeguards eliminate the need for "defensive' gTLD applications because, where an infringement of legal rights can be established using these processes, an application will not be approved.”
Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research, generally supports the ICANN program. “It is too early to tell how big the malicious threat is,” Ernst wrote in an email to BtoB. “$185,000 is a lot of money to spend for a cybersquatter compared to a $10 dot-com domain name at GoDaddy.”
The ANA viewed ICANN’s response as dismissive of the concerns of the organization, which includes marketers such as 3M Corp., Microsoft Corp. and W.W. Grainger. “If our views are just dismissed out of hand, we will use whatever means available to us to try to roll back this program,” said Dan Jaffe, ANA’s exec VP-government relations, who said the organization would consider legal, legislative or regulatory options if its concerns aren’t addressed.