On Thursday June 26, 2008 the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) voted to astronomically expand the availability of domain names from the traditional .country or .com to almost whatever the purchaser can imagine. Proponents of this plan included corporations such as eBay (.ebay), industries (.car), and cities (.berlin).
Starting in 2009, purchasers will be able to buy an unlimited number of domain names. While some are thrilled, others are concerned people will make a lot of money by "squatting" on domain names (for example, someone could scoop up .pepsi and sell it for millions to the Pepsi Corporation). ICANN is putting several safeguards in place to make sure this does not happen; including giving purchasing priority to trademark holders. Another somewhat unintended consequence to the pirating of these new domain names is how expensive it is technologically to implement a new completely untried domain name.
So… what does what some are calling one of the biggest shakeups in internet history really mean to you? For smaller organizations with plans on staying small, it may not mean much. For those of you who are planning on growing, getting your brand trademarked may be a very good idea.
Financially, getting your brand trademarked can be pretty expensive, but it may be something you may really want to consider to safely control your brand. For more information and ideas you can check out the United States Patent and Trademark web site.
It remains to be seen what the full scale implications to your users and internet navigators of this ICANN ruling will be. We will keep all of you updated!
Photo thanks to Flickr user Jordan Lee