iiNet joins AFL in applying for brand domain name

Telco iiNet has joined the AFL in flagging its intentions to bid for a top-level domain name that would allow it to control the “.iiNet” URL and possibly sign up other domains using that name.

Both applications have caused some surprise within the industry, as analysts first thought the expensive process of applying to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for a top-level domain would have dissuaded the few businesses actually capable of affording an application.

“I am a little bit surprised at the interest,” says Kelly & Co intellectual property lawyer Luke Dale.

“The whole thing does open up some interesting possibilities for them.”

Perth-based iiNet said this morning it will be spending $200,000 – which includes $50,000 in registrar fees – on an application to register the .iiNet name, with operations manager Roger Yerramsetti confirming to Fairfax the application is underway.

The application was a “relatively cheap way to secure a part of the internet”, he said.

The telco company was contacted this morning but a reply was not available prior to publication.

This follows an application from the AFL, which said it will be applying in order to open up possibilities to expand its brand. For instance, it could register each individual club with the .afl name and make sure all relevant and official information is branded under the same banner.

These two applications are the major names in Australia, but photography giant Canon also confirmed it would apply as early as 2010.

Dale says he’s been surprised at the amount of interest from Australian organisations – there are dozens of others that have expressed interest – but says it makes sense, as this could open up possible revenue streams.

“The selling point is that you can control your own piece of the internet, so you can set up domain names within each of these and control how that all works.”

“For instance, if you’re the AFL, you can do a deal with Rebel Sport, and then use the domain name footballboots.afl, which then defers to Rebel Sport. You can control how all the advertising and referrals work.”

“It could be quite a compelling sales channel.”

However, for many SMEs this is out of the question. Applying through a registrar will add tens of thousands of dollars to the $150,000 application cost, and it’s not known whether they’ll even be effective sales channels.

However, Dale says the process has mostly been handled well and that, for some larger businesses, the cost is insignificant considering the potential benefit.

“Many businesses may have a trademark budget alone of something like $1 million. To apply for a corner of the internet like this is not that significant, even if SMEs are out of the question.”

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