ICANN’s recent initiative to open the generic domain names space to an application, register-your-favorite-gTLD process struck me as very problematic from the moment I had first heard about it. Ars technica has a great post on the topic, which marks the end of the period during which ICANN has been receiving comments concerning its ambitious plan.
Such a reform would definitely make the life of established markholders harder. From their perspective, it will certainly become more expensive and complicated to maintain a reasonable portfolio of domain names that would reflect the strength of their marks across the gTLD space, or at least among the "important" top level domains. From the perspective of Internet users, it should become harder to assess the source of information appearing on websites according to their URLs. I don’t say it’s a case of “why fix what’s not broken.” However, the proposed fix does not appear to serve well many of the constituents it is supposed to serve, among them the community of markholders and the general public. In case the plan comes across, it will generate big business for some, no doubt. From a legal viewpoint, this might start a new wave of arbitration complaints and lawsuits concerning the rights to use certain domain names, dwarfing the caseload we have been accustomed to over the past decade-and-a-half.