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LONDON — Brands’ Internet domain names look set for a new era.
L’Oréal, Chanel, Richemont and Coach are among the companies that have applied for new Internet domain name endings, applying to register domains including .loreal; .chanel; .chloe, and .coach, which would sit alongside established domains such as .com and .org.
During a press conference in London Wednesday, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, revealed the first 1,930 applications that have been made for the newly available gTLDs, or generic top level domains.
Those that have applied for the names will now go through an independent review process, during which there is a 60-day comment period and a seven-month objection period. ICANN expects to post the results of the initial evaluations in December or January, and expects the first domains to start to go live in the first quarter of 2013
Rod Beckstrom, president and chief executive officer of ICANN, said the aim of the program is to “increase competition and consumer choice and to foster innovation.” Beckstrom said ICANN had collected about $350 million from the $185,000 fee per application, which would be used to process the applications and set aside $60,000 per application for a risk contingency fund. “This is expensive.…This is a serious technical operation to run a top-level domain,” said Beckstrom. “For the security and stability of the Internet, we’ve got to make sure that’s done right.”
Alongside registering brand names, some companies have registered generic domains such as .skin, .hair and .makeup, in the case of L’Oréal. A number of companies have applied to register .love, one of which is Richemont. ICANN’s review process will determine which company is awarded the domain. Richemont also applied to register .jewelry in English and Chinese, along with .watches in Chinese.
Charlie Abrahams, vice president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at online security firm MarkMonitor, described the development as “the end of the beginning,” in terms of the Internet’s evolution. “Now the important work for brand owners really starts,” said Abrahams, noting that the Internet’s landscape will now “multiply,” with the possibility of thousands of new domains coming into existence, and as a result, more opportunities for counterfeiters to apply to register domains.
Abrahams said according to a survey of the firm’s clients last year, most brands that planned to register new domains were doing so for defensive reasons, such as preventing counterfeiters from registering the names. “It’s interesting that some of the high-profile fashion brands have made the strategic decision to apply for a lot of names and some have completely ignored [the program],” said Abrahams. “That partly reflects [each brand’s] focus on the Internet.”
Abrahams also described L’Oréal’s decision to apply to register domains such as .skin and .hair as a potentially “clever piece of marketing.” “If they think that will attract consumers, they’ve probably stolen the march [on competitors],” he noted.
Other fashion and luxury brands that have made applications to register domains include Nike, Gucci, Macy’s, Swatch, Target, Zara, Next and Wal-Mart.