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What Every General Counsel Should Know About ICANN

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on March 22, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There a few things that every general counsel should know about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

After all, the corporation is at the Internet's helm. It drives policy which may ultimately impact businesses and corporations.

Here are some things you should know about the organization and its new policies:

New top-level domain names now available, for a limited time

Did you know that ICANN is taking applications for new top-level domains? Top-level domains are those ".com" and ".org" endings we are so used to.

Through April 12, organizations can apply for domain names that end in nearly any word or phrase. Toyota could conceivably apply for a web address that ends in ".car" instead of ".com." In house counsel might need to start thinking about whether or not their company will purchase one. Or, what legal strategy to employ if someone else buys their company's name.

ICANN is not a government organization:

It's actually a private corporation. This is strange, considering how important some of its initiatives are. The thing is, ICANN used to have strong government ties. Not so anymore. The Internet organization hopes to maintain its neutrality amongst competing interests. "We're a lot like Switzerland," said ICANN president and CEO Rod Beckstrom to CNN.

ICANN is active in policy-making:

General counsels might also want to keep track of ICANN's initiatives. Policy changes such as new top-level domain can have a wide effect. Plus, ICANN's policy making is "extremely active," according to Inside Counsel.

That's why it might be best to keep abreast of ICANN-related news. You never know if new policies might suddenly impact your business. ICANN posts regular updates and news stories on its website.

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