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Hardheaded governments vs. Amazon.com

Amazon details some of the concessions it was willing to make to governments in the Amazon region.

Amazon.comOne of the more peculiar new top level domain name battles is the one between Amazon.com and and governments of the Amazon area, including Brazil and Peru.

At the request of these countries, the Governmental Advisory Committee has effectively killed Amazon.com’s bid for .amazon and two internationalized equivalents in Japanese and Chinese.

It’s sometimes difficult to get inside the head government bureaucrats. But it’s safe to say that most governments fear change. When they have the power to stop something that may have repercussions, they do it. That’s even if those repercussions are imagined.

Would the countries of the Amazon actually be harmed if .amazon were delegated to the internet’s biggest retailer?

I struggle to find a single way it could be harmed. If it were harmed, surely the countries could point to actual examples from Amazon.com’s use of its second level Amazon.com domain name.

And the IDN equivalents? Is it going to hurt tourism from China and Japan? How?

ICANN just published a letter (pdf) sent by Amazon.com that details some of the concessions the company was willing to make to the governments in the Amazon region. The concessions included blocking second level domain names that may be relevant to the region, or even offering second level domains to relevant groups so they could use them.

Would the governments actually accept a second level domain, such as brazil.amazon? Of course not. They themselves have no use for .amazon. They didn’t apply for it. They would have no idea how to use it. They won’t be harmed at all by the company getting .amazon.

Yet they’ve blocked .amazon, just because they can.

Perhaps Amazon.com came in with guns blazing and upset the governments. If you weren’t in the negotiations, you can’t know for sure.

Still, I think the death of .amazon is bad for the new TLD program. Amazon.com applied for 76 domain names. It’s one of the two companies people point to when they say internet companies are excited about new TLDs (the other being Google). Yes, Amazon.com’s plans for closed domains are controversial. But for those that wish to see new TLDs be a success, pointing to a robust .amazon domain is important.

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  1. JS says

    Perhaps Brazil and al. have no use for .amazon now but it may change in the future. If the e-commerce company gets its hands on it, it’s off the table forever.

  2. Konstantinos Zournas says

    Come on Andrew. If you could block it, wouldn’t you do it also?
    Maybe the countries plan to offer .amazon next time around. You don’t know that. Why should they settle for brazil.amazon. Why should the roll out for Amazon. Just because it has a lot of money?
    Why would they accept just “concessions” when they can have the whole thing?

    The IDNs were part of the .amazon block. They couldn’t allow the 2 and block just the one.

    And the new gTLD program does not depend on any single .brand.

    You are off on this one: “They would have no idea how to use it.”.
    Assuming that they are ignorant… How do you know that?

    • Andrew Allemann says

      Fair retort.

      If I had a government mentality, you’re probably right. If I can block something I will.

      If I had a business mentality, I’d try to figure out how I (as a government) could use this to my advantage. Can I use this as a way to get great .amazon domains at no cost? As a way to distribute these second level domain names with out going through the bureaucratic mess of having so many countries involved?

      With regards to “they would have no idea how to use it”, I’m mean that they haven’t suggested any way in which owning .amazon would be valuable to them. They’ve just said “we don’t like someone else owning it”.

      • Konstantinos Zournas says

        I don’t think that sharing .amazon with a brand is what any government would do.
        Actually I wouldn’t like to do it also, just like I am not using subdomains.

        Would you like a German or Chinese brand to be using .usa even if they were offering visit.usa to the US gevernment? I guess not.

        They didn’t have to suggest any way of why they want it. Amazon is a geo term and that is all they needed to prove to block it. What happens next is another matter.

          • JS says

            Right, the term is not blocked because its a disallowed geo string, but because GAC objected to it. It’s all within the rules.

            I don’t get the Business/Gov mentality duality. They are a gov. and they think like a gov., so what ? I wouldn’t want my country run like a business for matters pertaining to culture, history, identity etc.

            I’d think the US would lobby the GAC to object to .grandcanyon .yellowstone .rockies same with the Euro countries and .alps etc.

            It’s the internet, every domain is unique, there can only be one. The guidebook allows the GAC to object if they have some sort of consensus. That’s how it is…

            That they have no immediate plan for it is a very odd statement coming from a domainer 😉

          • Andrew Allemann says

            “I’d think the US would lobby the GAC to object to .grandcanyon .yellowstone .rockies same with the Euro countries and .alps etc.”

            I disagree. Rockies is a great example of something that’s a mountain range, a baseball team, and in a bunch of company names. Even if a company based in Europe wanted the domain .rockies, the US gov wouldn’t interfere.

            That said, this isn’t a US government compared to other governments issue.

  3. domo sapiens says

    This will be a Big Blow to the New gTLD program…
    Very few companies applied for their own Brands a few abandoned the efforts and some are just doing a defensive move and have no plans to use them…

  4. Jon says

    I totally disagree.
    Words like Amazon and Patagonia are core IP of countries in south America. It is totally irrelevant how and what they use them for. It’s theirs to begin with; to use or not use as they please. They should have been suing Amazon.com and Patagonia.com since the beginning, and hopefully they will. Amazon.com and Patagonia.com have totally been piggybacking on all the goodwill words Amazon and Patagonia have established for centuries.

      • Jon says

        You are being facetious, but there is no question that in the first few years Amazon.com was able to get initial marketing traction partially because people were associating the word Amazon with positive aspects of Amazon region. Same for Patagonia clothing. Same for K2 skis. They all chose these brands deliberately because of the positive aspects of piggybacking on the existing goodwill.

    • Volker A. Greimann says

      Never mind the fact that the term “amazon” actually derives from greek mythology.

      Any string can have multiple meanings that are not mutualy exclusive and the use in one meaning as a TLD does not bring harm to the other meanings.

      Only if there is a direct link between the use and the meaning does harm actually arise.

      Amazon can refer to a one-breasted female warrior, an online store and a region in South America (although that is commonly rather referred to Amazonia or Amazonas). Neither use infringes upon the other and neither needs protection.

      No harm, no foul!

    • John Berryhill says

      Lol…. As I noticed in Buenos Aires, “Patagonia” is a trademark for a bank in Argentina. Go ahead and Google “Banco Patagonia”.

      I didn’t see any government officials outside of any of the Banco Patagonia offices asking the bank to change its name.

  5. Intellectual property expert says

    The common practice of registering names without enough distinctiveness has to be stopped. Kudos to brazilian government that is the only government in the world, with the exception of India’s governement, able to stand up against corporations.

    Trademarks like iPhone, green and yellow of John Deere, 46 of Valentino Rossi and many many others have not enough distinctiveness in the sectors in which they was registered. Period.

    The bad practice of using the principle of acquired distinctiveness to register signs with no distinctive power have to be stopped.

    So compliments, congratulations, maximun respect to Brazilian Government.

    P.S. It is really sad seeing intellectual property experts arguing in favour of companies that use i.p. rights in bad faith.
    It is too much simple to go with common names and want strong trademarks… Or, even worst, go with deceptive names, names commonly in use and something similar. Deceptive is not the case of Amazon, that is the case of iPhone; 46 in Nice classes 18 or 25 for instance; John Deere’s yellow+green in agriculture business etc. For amazon there is only a problem regarding a mark identical to a common name, and the common name used for centuries have to prevail. i repeat, this is the risk of choosing a well established common name, in use for decades or more, as your own trademark. On the other hand they have already taken a great advantage from the entire aura, the entire world of significances, senses, meanings, suggestions…bring to them from that incredible and unique region of our world. They have already taken.

  6. Doug Mehus (@dmehus) says

    I could see how .amazon refers to an economic region, similar to .eu. In that respect, I agree with the ICANN GAC’s decision, effectively not allowing .amazon to be included in the gTLD category.

    Amazon.com should take some comfort in knowing that if they can’t have it, no one else can. 😉

    They could, however, change their name to simply “A.com” with their trademark gold error and same logo typeface. 🙂


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