ICANN, the non-profit organization in control of top level domain names, has finished receiving comments from it’s proposed major overhaul which would allow anything to be a TLD.
For those of you that don’t know TLDs are .com, .org, .edu, etcetera. The ICANN has proposed that due to increasing demand for domain names the TLDs should no longer be limited to the current 2 and 3 letter acronyms (a list of all of the current TLDs can be found here.) Apparently despite the fact that ICANN would be “hard pressed to find more than one comment in favor of new TLDs from an organization other than those trying to launch new TLDs,” the proposal is still being considered.
While I have a consumer orientated view of Trademark law (see my comment at likelihoodofconfusion), I still think this is a bad idea. Those with a brand property view of trademark rights are extremely concerned. The fear is that people will be able to register infinite strings of tlds with trademarks in them, making it virtually impossible for trademark owners to protect their trademarks. While I don’t necessarily believe that people are going to suddenly start thinking http://www.drink.cokenotpepsi is coca-cola’s new homepage I do understand their concern.
U.S. Trademark law requires that owners police their trademarks or they lose some or all of their protection (either becoming weak and thus narrowly defined or abandoned entirely.) Allowing this new opportunity to register domain names as trademarks puts an incredible financial burden on trademark owners to protect their trademarks.