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BizReport : Domain Names : May 10, 2010

Opening of new domain extensions potential problem for brands

In just a few months a new brand of domain will be available on the Internet - a non-Latin based world wide web domain extension. In October, three Arab countries will receive the first language-based domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which will allow for domain extensions to be written in a country's language rather than spelled out or abbreviated using the Latin-based alphabet.

by Kristina Knight

Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first to be granted the so-called 'country codes'.

Just over a year ago, ICANN fast-tracked several alternate domain extensions, the first from a non-Latin based alphabet. The new extensions will be based on Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese and Arabic languages. This expands the total number of Top Level Domains (TLD's) from about 20 to more than 500.

The potential for Latin-based language brands to expand onto the global scene is great with the new extensions, but may also illuminate the bigger problem of brand safety. With less than six months until the websites launch, some experts warn that in addition to potentially increasing a brand's reach these new addresses present even bigger problems of cyber- or type-squatting, brand hijacking or corruption.

"It [could] be a nightmare for brand owners as they try to prevent their brands from being used in a corruptive form," said (via TechNewsWorld) E. Thomas Watson, an attorney with Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson. "All anyone can say is it's a new ball game."

Tags: alternate domains, Arabic language, brand protection, brand security, Chinese language, Country code, domain extensions, ICANN, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Top-level domain, United Arab Emirates

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