WASHINGTON — The National Retail Federation here on Monday said it has asked the U.S. Commerce Department to delay rollout of new Internet domain names.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit that administers Internet names for the Commerce Department, plans to launch a program in January that would go beyond traditional three-character "top level" domain names such as ".com" and ".org" to include word-length domains such as ".retail" or ".shop" and also allow business names to be used.
"The single comment we are hearing most often from retailers is that they wish they had more time," Mallory Duncan, NRF senior vice president and general counsel said. "Whether they're for it or against is, everybody agrees that there has been too much uncertainty around this process."
Duncan said retailers have a wide range of brand identity issues and legal concerns to address before deciding whether to seek the new domain names. While some retailers believe the plan will offer new marketing opportunities, others are concerned that they could be forced to spend millions of dollars to protect themselves against "cyber-squatting" by registering multiple variations of their names to keep competitors, critics or unauthorized users from doing so.
Application fees for each of the new domains have been set by ICANN at $185,000, but NRF expects most companies to spend $250,000 per name when legal fees and consultants are included, plus another $50,000 to $100,000 a year to manage the domains thereafter. In some cases, assignment of a domain sought by more than one party would be decided by auction, further driving up costs.