The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has traveled to Beijing to discuss allowing hundreds more suffixes, which would include Chinese characters rather than Roman letters.
ICANN is rolling out its new generic top level domain names (gTLDs) this year to add to the already existing top level domains such as .com and .net. The new gTLDs will include a variety of new languages and with China having the largest internet population in the world, it has the potential to further drive the domain name market.
Vice secretary-general of internet society for China Sun Yongge told CCTV: “There is still a long way to go for China to participate in developing the internet. That’s been lacking due to our language and cultural background. So now, we are actively pushing forward the development of internationalized domain names.”
However, increasing the number of domain names made available brings about many challenges, one of which is brand protection.
Professor Hong Xue, a director at the Institute of Internet Policy and Law, said the biggest hurdle will be figuring out a way to get Chinese trademarks in Chinese characters protected in the new domain name programme.
Mr. Xue believes with the thousands of new domain extensions, some of them may be cybersquatters, taking advantage of domains that are similar to a particular trademark and pretending to be associated with them.
“We hope ICANN can really understand our consumer protection laws and data protection laws and other regulations,” he added.
The number of cases of alleged cybersquatting handled by the World Intellectual Property Organization increased by five per cent last year to reach a record high of 2,884, according to the head of the UN agency, Francis Gurry.
As a result of the rise in internet usage in Asia, more cases of cybersquatting are emerging. Mr Gurry said the US usually has the most cases of cybersquatting but this could change drastically in the next few years as China continues to grow.