US lawmakers back Amazon.com's bid for .amazon gTLD

Amazon.com's bid for the gTLD has been blocked by some countries in the Amazon region

Amazon.com's troubled bid for the .amazon generic top-level domain (gTLD) has got support from the U.S. Congressional Trademark caucus, which is asking for a speedy resolution of the long-standing dispute between the online retailer and countries in the region through which the Amazon river flows.

J. Randy Forbes and Suzan DelBene, both co-chairs of the caucus, wrote to Fadi Chehade, CEO of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the chair of its board of directors, Steven Crocker, that the body's rejection of the application for .amazon appears to have no legal basis and could create a "troubling precedent" of governments disregarding established principles of international law, including trademark law.

The ICANN board approved in 2011 an increase in the number of gTLDs from the around 22 at the time that included for example .com, .net and .org. The gTLD plan is expected to bring significant benefits to Internet users, including the ability to create new TLDs in non-Latin, non-English scripts.

Amazon's bid for .amazon was opposed by the governments of Brazil and Peru as in their view the granting of exclusive rights to the gTLD to a private company "would prevent the use of this domain for purposes of public interest related to the protection, promotion and awareness raising on issues related to the Amazon biome." The gTLD string Amazon applied for also matches part of the name, in English, of the "Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization," an organization that coordinates cooperation among countries in the region, the governments said.

"It should also be noted that the application for the '.AMAZON' gTLD has not received support from the governments of the countries in which the Amazon region is located," according to an "early warning" in 2012 by Brazil and Peru, both members of the Governmental Advisory Committee, a body consisting largely of governments that was set up to advise ICANN.

Brazil or Peru do not have any legally recognized rights, let alone intellectual property rights, on the term "Amazon," and there is no basis in international law for the countries to assert their rights to the term, Forbes and DelBene wrote in the letter.

Amazon did not immediately comment on the letter. The company has previously proposed that the Amazon region, its culture and identity could be fully represented by terms that are commonly used and recognized as representing the region, such as .amazonas, .amazonia and .amazonica. The company said it agreed to co-exist with these geographic gTLDs if applied for by governments in the region.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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