December 14, 2010, 2:47 PM

Not so fast: A plan to expand web domains takes a detour

Web address group ICANN plans more meetings about web names based on brands.

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A long-discussed plan to expand the number of generic top-level domains for web addresses—that is, new siblings to .com, .net. and .gov—will be discussed some more. The group that manages web addresses says more consultation among interested parties is needed to resolve concerns.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, commonly known as ICANN, did not detail those concerns. But the plan, which would allow domains to be based on brand names, such as .Amazon or .Macys as well as more generic concepts such as .basketball and .Montreal, has attracted opposition from some retailers and brand manufacturers. They worry about having to spend money to control their brand names in these new domains, even if the new domains never gain traction. Such purchases could cost $500,000 for each major brand, and nearly $750 million for all brand-holding businesses, says the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse, a trade group that fights online brand infringement and opposes the creation of new top-level domains.

ICANN says its board of directors will have “an extended meeting” with its Governmental Advisory Committee to work out concerns over the domain-expansion plans. The committee includes representatives of more than 100 governments. Consultations begin in February, says Peter Dengate Thrush, ICANN’s board chairman. “We’d rather do it right than do it fast,” he says.

The web includes 21 top-level domain manes and 250 country code domains.

In related news, ICANN last week re-elected Thrush as board chairman.

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