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Melbourne IT Survey on ICANN's New gTLD Domain Names

April 01
15:40 2009

Web Host NewsMOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – Melbourne IT, a Top 5 global domain name registrar and the #1 digital brand management company worldwide, says its corporate clients have had a mixed response to ICANN’s proposed new generic Top Level Domain Names (gTLDs) with interest in the branding advantages of these new domain names balanced by concerns about costs and added complexity for some clients.

Melbourne IT has this week launched a new range of professional consulting services to assist its 3,000-strong corporate client base worldwide to navigate the complexities surrounding the proposed changes to the rules governing the new domain names. These services were developed following feedback from the company’s clients in a recent survey.

“Some of our larger corporate clients with sophisticated online brand management and marketing strategies are excited about the opportunities that having their own branded top level domain names will present and are keen to start the process. At the same time, many of our clients are concerned that ICANN’s new gTLDs will increase the cost & complexity associated with digital brands protection and brand management,” said Mr. Theo Hnarakis, Melbourne IT CEO & Managing Director.

”We have taken an advice and advocacy role for our corporate clients in this process. We were pleased to see at ICANN’s meeting in Mexico City in early March that our concerns – and the concerns of many brand owners worldwide – have been recognised on the issue of protecting trademark holders in the new gTLD process.”

In a survey conducted in late 2008, the company’s top tier corporate clients in Europe, the US & Australia, were asked about their perceptions and their intentions in relation to the new gTLDs that will allow companies to secure their brand name as a top level domain, i.e. www.brand vs www.brand.com.

The survey showed that about one quarter of Melbourne IT’s clients are upbeat about the branding and marketing potential of new gTLDs, with 14% of respondents keen to pursue a branded gTLD for their business as soon as possible.

Some other findings from the survey include:

* More than 70% of respondents believe the new gTLDs will be confusing for internet users
* Almost 100% of respondents feel that new gTLDs will increase the cost of online brand protection
* Almost 70% do not agree that a brand name gTLD will reduce the need for other domain name types
* Almost 50% believe a brand name gTLD will offer protection against typo and cybersquatting

“There is still confusion in the market as to what these new gTLDs will mean in practice. Although the rollout now seems likely to be delayed until early 2010 while trademark issues are resolved, we recommend that brand holders start preparing for this change now. We are hosting regular webinars to assist companies of all sizes to stay up to date on this topic and encourage all web site custodians, marketing and brand managers to attend to better understand both the opportunities and the challenges of the proposed changes.

“Whether brand owners want to protect their valuable digital brands under the new rules or take a more proactive approach and harness the marketing potential of their own gTLD, we have the expertise & global capabilities to help clients to navigate the process and develop effective digital brand strategies. We are taking on the role of consultant and advisor for clients who want to pursue a new gTLD for their business and we are also advocating our clients’ concerns by contributing to the draft ICANN process for these new domain names particularly with respect to additional protections for brand owners and consumers at the second level (i.e. brandname.newgTLD) for both existing and new gTLDs. Melbourne IT will also be enhancing its existing monitoring services to monitor for possible infringing names at the top level, and also the second level of new gTLDs,” Mr. Hnarakis said.

ICANN has announced that it is not expecting the process to launch before 2010, and has highlighted areas such as brand protection and security issues that require further work before the new gTLD policy can be implemented

About Melbourne IT
Melbourne IT Limited (ASX:MLB) is a world leader in the supply of domain name registration and other online solutions with approximately 6 million domain names under management globally. The company has a strong commitment to the delivery of high value internet services and web-based solutions to organisations of all sizes across the globe. Melbourne IT was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange in 1999 and has a network of 18 offices across the world.

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