Big changes to the internet could impact your business

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Big changes coming to the internet from Salt Lake Chamber on Vimeo.

There are some big changes are coming to the internet and it could have a big impact on your business.

The International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, ICANN, is set to add hundreds of top level domains, or what you know as .com, .net, .info, etc. Get ready to add new versions like .google, .amazon and even .lol.

“This is the biggest single visible change to the internet in its history,” says Shawn Gunnarson, a partner at Kirton McKonkie specializing in internet governance. “We will begin seeing the change in the next year to 18 months and it will affect what most users see online.”

ICANN accepted over 1,900 applications for top level domains (TLD). With an application fee of $185,000 each, it’s a significant investment for groups looking to take control of large portions of the web.

Some of the businesses applying for TLDs are names you would expect. Amazon, Microsoft and Google all applied for multiple TLDs; Apple applied for just one. A new group, Donuts Inc. based in Washington state applied for 300–we’ll do the math for you, that’s over $55 million worth of application fees.

ICANN anticipated receiving around 500 applications; instead, they received four times that amount. Many of the TLD applications are for new nation codes like those used in Canada (.ca) and the United Kingdom (.uk). ICANN also received applications from churches, non-profit organizations and well established brands that have not done much online including Tiffany & Co. Who is not on the list? There’s no .coke or .pepsi.

“So much of our global market place is shrinking as more and more business is done on the internet,” says Gunnarson. “We’ve never done anything like this.”

The question is, can new suffixes like .bank or .app become as prolific as .com?

“Whether or not the folks marketing those names will be as effective in planting them in our brains, only time will tell,” says Gunnarson.

The forthcoming changes to TLDs bring both risks and opportunities for Utah businesses. The risk for potential trademark infringement–some other group buying your business name or web domain with a new TLD (for example, is essentially commandeered by the new But Gunnarson believes Utah businesses are uniquely positioned to take advantage of the high level of bilingual talent in the state. One major change is that TLD will no longer be restricted to Latin characters; you’ll start to see websites that end in .com–but with the .com in Mandarin, Arabic and others.

Local businesses that have concerns about changes to TLDs can make their views known through a public comment process through Aug. 12.

“Businesses should carefully evaluate whether there are risks that they are unaware of right now because of these applications,” says Gunnarson. “They should act in time to mitigate or remove those risks.”

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