Many sporting and religious organisations may have been caught
napping with the creation of the new top level domains.
ICANN, the internet's global governing body, revealed the
1,930 applications it received for the Top Level Domain (TLD) name
program in London recently. This powerful brand structure will soon
be part of a fundamental change to how domains operate.
While the Australian Football League has made an application for
the domain ".afl" and Tennis Australia has applied for
".tennis", other sports have not been so quick to protect
Private businesses with no previous connection with sport or
religion have applied for multiple domains including football,
hockey, soccer, golf and rugby with no apparent opposition from the
sports themselves. This will give any online businesses using the
top level domains a level of legitimacy that has previously not
This could be a significant oversight if sporting bodies were
not expecting the visibility and distinct branding that a top level
domain will offer. This was an opportunity to market a sporting
brand in a way that has never been done before, but one that
required a foresight and a significant investment up front.
Communities and sporting organisations could very quickly see
the commercialisation of top level domains with a very close
connection to their sport.
The peak bodies for those communities will have to move quickly
to stop private businesses getting a monopoly over these words.
There is now a seven month period for objections to be lodged
but it will be difficult for objections to succeed. An application
for a top level domain will only be rejected if there is
substantial opposition to the application from a significant
portion of the community to which the name is targeted.
This type of campaign would require international mobilisation
of peak sporting bodies across the world. Cricket, for example,
will probably need substantial submissions from the International
Cricket Federation along with a substantial number of the national
Religious terms have also been popular with private
organisations, but apparently not with the Church. Unless the
dispute resolution protocol mechanism is invoked then
".Bible" will belong to the American Bible Society,
".Islam" to the Asia Green IT System, and
".Church" to a small church in Oklahoma. The Vatican is
one of the few religious organisations that put its stamp on the
internet, applying for the domain "Catholic".
With the "First-in, best-dressed" policy of the
internet, there is only one last chance for those organisations to
protect what will become a very valuable patch of internet turf.
Objections to the new domains can only be made on limited
There will have to be substantial mobilisation of community
organisations to lodge objections with ICAAN in accordance with the
dispute resolution policy before the time for objections expires.
Hopefully the peak bodies will take advantage of this second chance
and stake a claim for some very valuable pieces of internet real
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