ICANN begins accepting applications for gTLD program

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Washington, D.C.—The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers began accepting applications for new generic top-level domains today. Among the groups approaching with trepidation ICANN's new gTLD program—which enables the creation of such so-called “brand gTLD's” as .cocacola or .cisco—is the Software & Information Industry Association, which issued a press release today calling for more safeguards protecting intellectual property. “ICANN's program opens up a whole new frontier of potential—and likely—abuse by those seeking to profit from the name, reputation and content of others,” said Scott Bain, SIIA's chief litigation counsel, in a statement. “Intellectual property owners will need to familiarize themselves quickly with the Rights Protection Mechanisms in the gTLD Applicant Guidebook and expend even more resources and time in enforcing their rights against cybersquatters and infringers.” The Association of National Advertisers has led the charge against ICANN's new program. Earlier this week, the ANA issued a press release which outlined a proposal calling for more protections against cybersquatting. “Destructive and costly litigation can hopefully be avoided if ICANN accepts this proposal and if all parties work together in good faith during the first application period to develop practical and reliable solutions to the challenges that have been repeatedly raised,” said ANA President-CEO Bob Liodice, in a statement. But Jeff Ernst, principal analyst at Forrester Research, said the concerns about cybersquatting are overblown. In a recently released report (“It's Decision Time for gTLDs”), Ernst wrote, “Cybersquatters with no trademark rights would be absolutely foolish to apply for your brand name, because the probability of being awarded a gTLD is next to zero.” ICANN said it will accept initial applications for the new gTLD program through April 12. Companies that have applied for top-level domains under the program will be made public after that date.
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