Land Rush in Cyberspace

Beginning in 2010, the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is expected to create hundreds of new generic top-level domain names (gTLDs) and new country-code top-level domain names (ccTLDs).

This has the potential to transform the Internet, but also represents a potential sizeable headache for trademark holders of all types, as it will provide new territory for cyber-squatters to stake out.

The move was approved for implementation in June 2008 and immediately drew outrage from the intellectual property constituency. Their advocacy efforts led ICANN in March of this year to authorize the creation of an implementation resolution team tasked with developing proposed solutions for problems trademark holders are likely to experience with the introduction of more gTLDs and ccTLDs, such as securing the rights to the names themselves and resolving potential disputes among owners. These issues were further discussed at ICANN’s 35th Annual Public Meeting in June.

Despite ongoing controversy, the introduction is proceeding as planned, scheduled to begin in January. “They’re going forward with this; they’re going to implement it at some level,” said Jeff Whittle, partner in the intellectual property group of global law firm Bracewell & Giuliani LLP, which has published several articles on the subject. “If people still disagree with its implementation, there are ways they can communicate that to ICANN, but the big issue is to make sure people plan for it. They might want to adopt some level of these new generic top-level domain names when they become available to protect their…


CertMag Staff

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