Will new domain suffixes add to ‘dot’ confusion?

Will the expansion of domain name suffixes beyond .com, .net, .gov and .org confuse Internet users or help businesses identify and protect themselves? U.S. lawmakers would like more time to talk about it, before a California company starts loading thousands of new URL endings onto the Internet next year.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers already has the government’s approval for new domain suffixes. Internet law experts and Congress wonder if the move will increase domain name disputes or endanger companies’ intellectual property rights.

Almost 2,000 applications have already been made for proposed new domain name suffixes. The URL ending .com and 21 other current suffixes may have more than 1,000 new siblings by the end of next year.

Internet companies often purchase multiple domain names so that all searches lead back to the business. Companies that don’t do that risk watering down a brand name or exposing it to wrongdoers.

Some of the first companies in line to make applications with ICANN and plunk over $185,000- per-application fees were Google and Amazon. Amazon applied for 70 separate domains, which will each cost an extra $25,000 a year to remain generic top-level domain names.

Disgruntled Internet users could try to buy suffixes like .fail and .sucks to tarnish brand images. ICANN indicated that it might screen domain name applicants to weed out potential troublemakers.

Lawmakers want assurances that businesses will not have to go broke buying new domain names just to protect their companies. Legislators also want to make sure consumers are not duped by sound-alike and spelled-alike names that could lead them to fraudulent Internet sites.

At least one observer thinks next year’s suffix infusion will only strengthen the power of the most popular suffix. The publisher of the Domain Name Journal believes the alphabet soup set to hit URL endings will drive up the value of easy-to-remember .com.

Source: Politico, “New Internet domain names a .fail, Washington says,” Steve Friess, June 13, 2012