Brands and regions: the dotamazon case
So-called 'brand TLDs' -- domain name extensions based on brand names -- were first enabled in 2012. And another brand TLD application window is expected in the near future. Most companies that apply have little difficulty getting their brand names accepted as internet extensions; those names are, after all, their property. But what if your brand shares its name with a geographical region?
Retailer versus region
That's the crux of the dispute over 'dotamazon', the brand TLD sought by the US retailer with the same name as the South American region. For some years now, the company has been at loggerheads with the governments of Amazonian countries, who argue that the internet giant shouldn't be allowed to register .amazon.
Everything began smoothly
The dispute has been running since 2012, when an application to create .amazon was submitted. The application was initially approved, as 'Amazon' wasn't considered to be a geographical name. So approval wasn't sought from the governments of Brazil and Peru. Proponents of brand TLDs were pleased to see .amazon get the green light, thinking that its creation would help to promote the idea of extensions based on brand names.
Consent for registration withheld
A year later, however, the Brazilian government stepped in. As far as it was concerned, 'Amazon' was indeed the name of a geographical region, and the Brazilians weren't inclined to let anyone else claim it. Their motivation was partly political: relations between Brazil and the US had been dented by the Edward Snowden scandal, and Amazon was synonymous with 'big business' in many politicians' minds.
Amazon responded by lodging an appeal. In 2017, an independent committee ruled in the company's favour and called on ICANN to review its decision. However, the application was refused a second time, despite support from the US government. Increasingly, the wrangle began to look like a geopolitical power game, in which intergovernmental relations took precedence over the applicant's rights.
Amicable settlements are possible
Name clashes don't have to result in confrontation, though. Take the case of German travel company TUI. Like Amazon, TUI met opposition when it applied to create .tui in 2012. The reason: Tui is also the name of a province in Burkina Faso. TUI's response was to send a delegation to the west-African country, resulting in a negotiated settlement.
Within ICANN, discussions about .amazon appear to have reached a stalemate. No one appears willing to concede any ground. ICANN has now given the two sides one month to find a solution. If they don't, neither of them will get the extension. And that, of course, means that no one gets to use .amazon. Neither the company, nor the region.
Want to know more about brand TLDs?
Interested in the opportunities that a brand TLD can offer? We'd love to talk them over with you. Just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.