Online advertisers join critics of Web-naming plan


IAB members include Facebook, Google, Amazon and Microsoft.

IAB is the second major advertising group to bash ICANN's domain-naming plan. Earlier this month, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) sent a letter to ICANN threatening litigation over the issue.

ICANN approved a plan in June to allow for the registration of new top-level domain names in addition to traditional domains such as ".com" or ".org." Beginning in 2012, organizations can apply for new addresses ending in almost any word or phrase.

IAB argued the plan would allow "cyber squatters" to register domain names ending in trademarked brand names such as ".coke" or ".jetblue."

Brand owners would have to either defensively buy up domain names related to their products or allow squatters to profit from their brands, the group said.

"ICANN's potentially momentous change seems to have been made in a top-down star chamber. There appears to have been no economic impact research, no full and open stakeholder discussions, and little concern for the delicate balance of the Internet ecosystem,” said Randall Rothenberg, CEO and president of IAB. “This could be disastrous for the media brand owners we represent and the brand owners with which they work."

Kurt Pritz, senior vice president for ICANN, said the organization's decision-making process was open and inclusive.  

He said brand owners can object if someone tries to register a trademarked top-level domain name and that ICANN would reject the application.

The plan also includes new protections for trademarked second-level domain names--the part of the web address before the top-level name.

"We think the end result will be a safer environment for trademark holders," Pritz said.

—This post was updated at 5:45 p.m.