Why Latin American Countries Scored a Major Victory Over Internet Domain Names

PHOTO: Top-level domains are listed on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

Chile and Argentina have scored a major victory in the battle over the use of geographic terms such as generic top level domain names (gTLD), a new form of internet addresses that include endings such as .xxx, .app, .book, .search, and .amazon.

The two South American nations filed complaints against Patagonia Inc., a California-based clothing company, when it put in an application request for the dot-brand name .patagonia. The company withdrew the request this week. "This is excellent news for our country," Jorge Atton, Chile's Telecommunications undersecretary, told EFE. "It ratifies our institutions' role in defending Patagonia's geographic identity, and, above all, it confirms our independence and sovereignty in Internet matters."

Patagonia Inc. had applied for the .patagonia gTLD early last year, following ICANN's decision in 2011 to end all restrictions on these domains, expanding the number available from the original 22, which included .com, .asia, .gov, .edu, .mil, .org, and .net, to a virtually endless figure, which can include words such as .gratis, .mormon and .transformers.

ICANN opened up an application for the new domain names in January 2012. Until May of that year, companies like Patagonia and Amazon filed paperwork and paid $185,000 to apply for a specific web address ending.

By June, ICANN revealed that it had received 1,930 applications. The organization released the names of the companies that had applied, and opened up a two-month public discussion for governments and other companies to comment or raise objections.

During those two months, countries like Switzerland filed complaints against the application for Swiss International Airlines' application for the gTLD .swiss, and Brazil and Peru spoke out against the use of the domain name .amazon, a gTLD pursued by the Internet retail giant Amazon.com. That's also around the time when Argentina and Chile protested the use of .patagonia.

All of these countries argued that granting these domain names to private companies would prevent people living in those geographic locations from developing websites that could benefit or bring attention to them.

Since then, these countries have lobbied against these domain names during periodic ICANN meetings, garnering support from other governments who prefer to avoid the possibility of watching how the names of their geographic and cultural patrimonies become an ending to a web address.

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