All organisations, including IT resellers, have been warned to review the hundreds of applications for new domain name endings within 60 days or risk losing access to their preferred version.
James Wellburn, a litigation lawyer based at Birmingham law firm Irwin Mitchell, believes many organisations are unaware of the imminent URL changes and says many could miss out on their opportunity to object. Businesses' intellectual property is at risk, he said, which could ultimately affect their ability to carry out their operations.
"The challenge to businesses with this opening-up of domain names is that they need to ensure that the proposed gTLDs do not infringe their existing intellectual property rights or conflict with existing domain names that they own," he said.
"ICANN launched a 60-day comment period in June, allowing anyone in the world to submit comments on any application. If any business objects [to any applications for new domain names], they have a period of seven months to file a formal objection."
Last month saw ICANN agree to boost the number of domain name endings or gTLDs – such as .co.uk, .com, or .org – available in a move that some have said is the largest expansion of the domain name system in the history of the internet so far.
According to Wellburn, the endings have traditionally mainly been linked to countries but ICANN has now given the nod to more customised endings. Apple has applied to use .apple.
If the application is approved, Apple will hold the rights to the use of, for example, www.ipad.apple. US discount store giant Wal-Mart has applied for .asda, potentially leading to rights for such URLs as www.shopping.asda.
Key to organisation operation
Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive of ICANN, said the new addresses can be key to how organisations operate and market themselves.
"It means new businesses, new marketing tools, new jobs, and new ways to link communities and share information," Beckstrom said in the 13 June statement. "We are standing at the cusp of a new era of online innovation."
According to ICANN, applications were received from 60 countries and territories, including 911 from North America and 675 from Europe.
Applications can be viewed at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-results
Comments can be posted at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/application-comments
Formal objections can be filed at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/objection-dispute-resolution
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