Walmart (NYSE:WMT), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and more than a dozen other retailers have applied for their own top-level domains (TLDs)—and were expecting to see them rolled out starting this year. But the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is running into more delays in approving the vanity domains, the website TechZone360 reported on Friday (May 17).
One problem is that far more objections than expected were filed over the nearly 2,000 applications for so-called "generic TLDs." ICANN collects $185,000 for each successful application, so the organization would like to start getting the TLDs through the approval process. But in April, ICANN said formal objections and other concerns would delay the rollout from June to August, and now observers think the organization will miss the August target too.
Even ICANN's own Government Advisory Committee said this spring that it's worried about certain proposed TLDs that have religious or geographical meaning—which is why the group advised the ICANN board to hold off on approving .amazon, a TLD that (not surprisingly) Amazon wanted to control so much that it applied for the name in English, Chinese and Japanese.
And last week, the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) said ICANN shouldn't be approving any new TLDs until it has made sure there are sufficient protections in place for trademarks and brand names, and that registrars are accredited for that kind of protection before any of the new TLDs are approved.
Of course, this whole process is breaking new ground, both for ICANN and for any organization applying for its own TLD. But most of the retailers who decided to play the vanity-domain game last year—including Walmart, Safeway (NYSE:SWY), Amazon, Macy's (NYSE:M), Gap (NYSE:GPS), TJX (NYSE:TJX), Home Depot (NYSE:HD), Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Target (NYSE:TGT), JCPenney (NYSE:JCP), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), Staples (NASDAQ:SPLS) and Polo (NYSE:RL)—probably expected that the biggest issues would be over who gets a TLD when multiple applicants applied for it (for example, both Walmart and Safeway want .grocery). Instead, whole categories of potential TLDs may yet be eliminated just because of objections.