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Australia stands firm on domain name disputes

Posted by James Greig on 21 February 2013
Australia stands firm on domain name disputes
Australia has caught the attention of the international business community with news that its government lodged more complaints about top level domain applications than any other nation in the world.

Last year banks, universities, sporting organisations and online retailers around the world had the opportunity to apply for “top level domain names” to be used instead of .com or .org at the end of a URL.

The announcement led to a frenzied land grab, with companies seeking ownership of the domains incorporating their own business names like .anz and .sbs – and controversially, genericdomains including .blog, .food and .tennis. Each application cost $185,000 to register.

Governments now have the opportunity to dispute any number of the applications through the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organisationevaluating the applications.

Out of the 243 early warnings made globally, Australia is responsible for lodging 129 of them. The government is most concerned about generic terms like .book because it might create an unfair advantage for one company over its competitors, and domains like .sucks or .wtf, because of their critical or negative connotations.

Among the complaints made by other countries, the majority of the concern seems to be over the potential to exclude competitors or other organisations that genuinely have claim to the name. Chinese officials are concerned about the Shangri-La Hotels being granted ownership of the name Shangri-La because it is also a county located in the northwest of Yunnan province. Officials in Brazil and Peru are concerned that if Amazon.com owned .amazon it would exclude conservation organisations in the Amazon. India is concerned that .bible would go to the American Bible Society, an organisation not representative of or relevant to the 27 million Christians who live in India.

According to ICANN, just because a government has raised a warning does not mean that the application will fail. The applicant will need to address the concerns of the government disputing its domain name. Applicants now have 21 days to respond to any warnings they have received.

It seems that the Australian government is more vigilant over top level domain names than any other government in the world, but if there’s ever a time for your business to dispute the claim to a name, it’s now.
Author: James Greig
About: James is the founder of Bloomtools and the software and Internet expert on the Executive Team. With a degree in Advanced Information Technology, specialising in Computer Science and Interactive Development, James founded the software development arm of Bloomtools in 2004.
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