On June 13th (“Reveal Day”), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN” a.k.a. the private company that controls the Internet) posted a list of applicants for new generic top-level domain names (“gTLDs”). While most people will be familiar of the existing top-level domains (e.g. .com, .ca, .net, .org), gTLDs offer an open-ended expansion to this universe. For an application fee of $185,000 and an annual cost of $25,000 (plus the technical burden of operating a TLD), organizations will be able to purchase their own domain suffix. As expected, the Reveal Day List includes the usual suspects (note that these are still at the consultation stage and may be opposed):
- and of course .sex (otherwise it wouldn’t be the Internet now would it?)
What caught my attention in the reveal list were the competing applications for certain non-brand related keywords. In particular, Merchant Law Group, a Canadian Class Action law firm has applied for the following 8 gTLDs:
- .law (the least surprising)
- .love (far more surprising)
While most of the applications were submitted by agents of the respective organizations, Merchant Law Group is listed as the applicant itself. Where this occurs, it tends to mean that the applicant has some business plan for reselling domain names under this extension.
Its very hard to imagine 1) that Merchant Law Group will succeed in its applications and 2) that if it did, it would manage the gTLDs itself. Perhaps they are acting for a group of clients? Perhaps they are simply fulfilling their reputation as a particularly entrepreneurial law firm? Alternatively, what if they don’t actually intend to succeed with their applications?
Although I can’t identify their strategy, I do like to see Canadian firms taking such an active and entrepreneurial role in Internet governance. To that end, I wish them good luck. If they’re successful, perhaps we’ll register skunkworks.love.