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The gTLD Opera

The curtain rises on January 12th 2012 but key players are still singing different tunes. Let’s peek into their performance as they start taking center stage.

FTC, the Federal Trade Commission, has sent a letter to ICANN on December 16th 2011.

Re: Consumer Protection Concerns Regarding New gTLDs. They write;

“We write now to highlight again the potential for significant consumer harm resulting from the unprecedented increase in new gTLDs.”

The following paragraph clearly highlights the lack of information about the ICANN gTLD platform.

“A rapid, exponential expansion of gTLDs has the potential to magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down Internet fraudsters. In particular, the proliferation of existing scams, such as phishing, is likely to become a serious challenge given the infinite opportunities that scam artists will now have at their fingertips. Fraudsters will be able to register misspellings of businesses, including financial institutions, in each of the new gTLDs, create copycat websites, and obtain sensitive consumer data with relative ease before shutting down the site and launching a new one.”

It’s about time to smell some coffee, as this mantra of ‘fraudsters and cyber squatting’ has become the theme song of the dancing opposition troupe. A quick lyrical analysis will turn this fake opera into a lost and off base noise. The questions are why is this topic is being regurgitated by the so many otherwise very smart teams. Either they really have no idea what a GTLD is or they are simply being fed, a biscuit. They continue and sing unison, “Fraudsters will be able to register misspellings of businesses, including financial institutions,” the naive audience confusing applauds.

Let’s analyze, in the first place, where are those not so intelligent fraudsters, so badly needed for the TV reality shows, who will invest a minimum of USD $185K, toil over months, disclose to their IQ, file a ream thick application, subject to dozens of scrutiny and audits, but still aggressively pursue some half-wittedly proposed ‘misspelled’ names to create fraudulent domain names for example ‘citybank’ or ‘citybanq’ ‘cityloans’ ‘citycard’ or ‘cityinvest’. Yes, yes yes, the opposition screams.

Two questions emerge. Would someone really enjoy a successful return on this? Not really, such dumb ideas would die even before they happen, the general public is getting more mature by the day and the trademark laws will clearly identify and stop such blatant ‘passing off’ of established banking name brand. Would ICANN allow such a name approval? Not really, the application process will simply kill such ideas in the diligent process.

Then still where all this out of tune noise is coming from? Basically, the major brand holders and their advertising agencies from all over the world spending hundreds of billions promoting their cherished names while another and bit lesser amount is being spent by trademark lawyers to protect such names is causing all this fuss? But doesn’t trademark protection mean some layer of protection? This fear mongering that ICANN GTLD’s expensive and time consuming processes will freely allow ‘misspelled name’ while such ‘misspelled names’ are already available on dot com. Today, for example, the following domains are available instantly at $10 each,‘citiinvestplus.com’ ‘citiinvestplanner.com’ ‘citiinvestplan.com’ or ‘citybanq’. Guess what, should we now shut down the entire domain name system?

To hit a real high note here, cyber-squatting fear mongering is nothing but smoke screens. If we accept the fact that domain name variations of choices are freely available all over the world then obviously there would be some cyber-squatting and for those well protected trademark holders, which is just another routine trademark defense exercise.

Change the backdrop of this noisy theatre, if there are millions of registered logos all over the world then there are billions of unregistered highly identical logos also. However, well protected and unique logos are always protected under the trademark laws and violators are routinely fined. So what do we do now, stop the usage of art work supplies, graphic design software, and snatch away colored pencils. The world has already come to the realization that when you have something very unique and worthy of protection only than a well defined protection plan would work.

They further boldly lay out a real life example. “The potential for consumer confusion in other variations of these types of scams is significant. As an example,“ABC bank” could be registered in .com, but another entity could register “ABC” in a new .bank gTLD, and a different entity could register “ABC” in a new .finance gTLD. Scam artists could easily take advantage of this potential for confusion to defraud consumers.”

Now, the supposed “ABC bank” could be registered as a dot com. Why not? Now this name identity applies to the holders of .bank. Dot bank is a consortium under American Bankers Association, which intends to file on behalf of the banks, where smaller banks would wish to use .bank as a suffix. Did the NTC committee and all the other related parties miss the most important reason why ABA pursuing .bank; it is to create a ‘closed and restricted .bank registry only for the qualifying banks’.

This program alone proves the fact that restricted and closed use of a suffix will protect consumer and create ‘certified domain name’ which until now was never available on the traditional hit-and-run, free for all, no question asked, buy one get 2 free domain name system. Behold the liberated registration, that created thousands of cases of cyber squatting and in reality responsible for creating a vibrant cyber-squatting defense registration industry.

A new book has been announced to deal with the global naming complexities and the thick fog of confusion created by mythical fear mongering, that have tried to disrupt the domain name expansion. In order to move beyond all this and to explore various models of market domination via name identity, the new book “Domination: The GTLD Name Game” is being released worldwide on February 12th 2012. The book is written in simple language for the boardroom where issues of global market domination are top of the agendas.

Most so called famous brand names have already reached their peak and are not worthy of the global ‘one internet one world’ platform, where to dominate that space a ‘one name one owner’ capability is most desirous. Unfortunately, the largest group falls into ‘one name and thousand owners’ category. Hence the fake opera and now the music begs for a crescendo.

By Naseem Javed, Expert: Global Naming Complexities, Corporate Nomenclature, Image & Branding

He is the founder of ABC Namebank, author of ‘Domination: The GTLD Name Game’, syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and specialist on global naming complexities.

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