Yessirree. A 300-page application and $185,000 will buy you your very own “dot-brand”.
What am I talking about? The latest craze in domain names–new generic top-level domains (gTLD). So companies like Nike and Coca Cola can now own .nike, .coke, and all of their permutations.
So of course I think to myself, what crazy law firm is going buy .law or .lawfirm? Well, they aren’t of course.
According to Lisa’s Rule of Legal Technology, most law firms do not engage in any new technology until it has been implemented in Corporate America for at least 5 years.
I predict the first buyers will be someone like Thomson or Lexis. They will likely buy their own brands but may make a bid for these more generic terms.
Okay, so setting aside the immediate issue of purchasing one of the new gTLDs, let’s look at some potential legal issues.
Who exactly decides who gets what gTLD? An organization called The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)–an international non-profit organization created in 1998 to create policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers. According to their articles of incorporation, filed in California, ICANN shall
operate for the benefit of the Internet community as a whole, carrying out its activities in conformity with relevant principles of international law and applicable international conventions and local law
Well. Hmm. Call me suspicious, but let’s say an entity decides to buy “.twinkle” who decides who gets it? ICANN.
So what if 3 people want to buy “.twinkle”: a twinkle maker, a composer of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and someone who has social networking site named “twinkle.com”?
According to ICANN, the trademark owner trumps a non-trademark owner; an open network will win over a private one; and a distributor of twinkle sites to geo-specific twinkle sites will win over a private twinkle site.
So in my scenario, I anticipate a good, hard fight. And don’t get me started on potential antitrust and cyber-squatting issues!
HA! And this world will never be free of us lawyers. NEVER, I say!