Amazon, South Americans Battle Over Domain Name

Dennis Faas's picture

It appears unlikely that Internet regulators will allow US-based online retailer Amazon to register and control the domain suffix '.amazon'.

The ruling does not affect website names, such as Instead, it's related to the new top-level domain system, which covers the last part of an address (otherwise known as a domain suffix).

Previously, this had been limited to a few terms -- such as '.com' and '.org' -- plus individual country codes, such as '.ca' for Canada. Under the new system, run by Internet regulators ICANN, organizations can apply to register virtually any term, using any language or alphabet.

While many generic terms have received multiple applications and will spark a bidding process, others have already been approved. For example, New York officials have been told they will be able to control website addresses ending in '.nyc.'

The first four top-level domains became active this week. They are all in non-English alphabets and cover the Arabic writing of '.web', the Chinese writing of '.game', and the Russian writing of '.online' and '.website'. (Source:

Amazon Only Bidder For '.Amazon'

Amazon had applied to use the '.amazon' name and cleared the first hurdle: it was the only group willing to pay the $185,000 application fee and therefore would have been certain to get the rights to the name if it was approved.

However, that's been blocked by ICANN's Governmental Advisory Committee, a international body made up of officials responsible for online issues.

These officials agreed with complaints from South American governments who said that because the Amazon River is such an important natural landmark, the name shouldn't be left in the hands of a private company.

'.Amazon' Application Appears Doomed

ICANN will make the final decision -- but it has a track record of always following the Governmental Advisory Committee's recommendations.

The committee made a similar ruling on an application by a US clothing firm to register '.patagonia,' which is also the name of a South American region. (Source:

Altogether, Amazon has applied for the rights to control around 80 different top-level domains -- together, the application fees have cost the firm nearly $15 million.

Some of those applications have also proved controversial; for example, authors and publishing groups say Amazon shouldn't be allowed to control addresses such as '.book' because this would give it an unfair advantage in online sales.

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