This week in Singapore, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, voted in a 13-1 decision to allow for registration of branded generic Top Level Domain (gTLD) extensions. Instead of simply .com, .gov, and .net, the internet may soon hold domains such as .google, .nike, or .lasvegas.

According to ICANN President Rod Beckstrom, “ICANN has opened the internet’s addressing system to the limitless possibilities of the human imagination,” (BBC NEWS). Limitless, it seems, as long as the domain ties to an identifiable and established brand. ICANN is hiring numerous IT experts and consultants to verify that domains are registered by the appropriate companies or governments.

Using real estate as an analogy, this stringent application process is, “Roughly the equivalent of getting approval to build a sky scraper,” according to Bruce Tonkin of Melbourne IT, a domain registry service. ICANN will charge $185,000 for each domain name to cover the costs of new staff, domain development, and potential legal fees for gTLD disputes.

The high price point prohibits many smaller firms from registering for gTLDs, but larger corporations and municipalities will have unprecedented control over an online brand with the new naming convention. Many organizations already expressed interest in pursuing gTLDs for two principal reasons. According to research in Business Wire, most companies pursuing gTLDs seek to protect their brand from infringement and gain a competitive brand advantage.

Whether corporations are strengthening a brand or guarding against domain name cyber-squatting, ICANN will put its new investigators to use when the application period begins early next year.

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