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Brand Imperialism

Brand imperialism occurs when corporate brands usurp and exploit the pre-existing names or words of certain people, trade on the pre-existing goodwill, and then deny those same people unfettered rights to usage of their own names and words through the use of trademarks, marketing & financial power, and the like.


Of primary importance to an understanding of brand imperialism is the potential private use of domains like by the North American company Amazon, and all other .amazon names, to the exclusion of the actual residents of the Amazon regions of South America.


Of secondary importance is the potential exclusive use of domains like by Amazon, the company, to the exclusion of every citizen of the entire world who might wish to use a name like, or

These proposed closed gTLDs have the potential to facilitate unprecedented super monopolies across the globe and significantly impact free world commerce.

patagonia photo


Patagonia, the apparel company, applied for the .patagonia domain extension with the original intention of using it as the exclusive foundation for a series of private "walled garden" commercial domain names. Strong objections were lodged by representatives of the citizens of Patagonia in Chile and Argentina and also by other objectors.

Patagonia has since withdrawn its application.


The Amazon company has an application pending to own the .amazon string to be operated as a closed registry. ICANN's response to objections, particularly from the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) and groups residing in the Amazonas regions of South America, is not yet clear though the GAC has issued an "Early Warning" based on objections from six nations in South America (see excerpt at right).

Fast Company and others have reported on the controversy, drawing a comparison with Amazon's attempts to control the .book string as a closed generic despite opposition from the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers:

"...its request is ruffling feathers within the Brazilian and Peruvian governments, which have both filed objections with ICANN claiming the .amazon domain should be devoted to promoting public interest causes related to the Amazon region of South America--issues such as environmental protection and indigenous rights."

Fast Company. Amazon Clashes With Brazil And Peru Over .amazon Domain Name.

Domain Incite, a leading domain news blog, provides further analysis and details about the issue:

"The objection came at the behest of Brazil and other Latin American countries that claim rights to Amazon as a geographic term, and follows failed attempts by Amazon to reach agreement.

"Brazil was able to achieve consensus in the GAC because the United States, which refused to agree to the objection three months ago in Beijing, had decided to keep mum this time around."

DomainIncite. GAC to kill off .amazon.

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Closed Registry Application For .amazon

Not only did Amazon the company apply for a large number of dictionary word domain extensions to be operated as closed gTLDs such as .news, .book and .store, they also applied for the .amazon string with similar restrictive conditions.

amazon tour boat photo

If Amazon succeeds with its application for ownership of the .amazon domain extension as a closed gTLD, then the tourist business on the Amazon River in the photo above will be denied access to the domain

Closed gTLD Application For .news

Amazon has filed an application to own the .news extension as a closed gTLD. The .news domains are analysed in detail on the .news string page. There is also some discussion of the string on the Opinion page.

The Washington Post Connection To .news

In 2013 Amazon's Jeff Bezos purchased the world famous newspaper The Washington Post for $250m.

Known far and wide as one of the globe's great papers, The Post has a long and distinguished history — and far-reaching, top-rated, media resources.

Amazon's Jeff Bezos (whose assets now include The Washington Post) has an application pending through Amazon for the .news string to be operated as a closed gTLD. This could enable the foundation of an immense global media empire by exploiting the outstanding resources of The Post and leveraging the power of domains like,,, and And every other city in the world.

Under the monopolistic exclusive registry model, all other existing newspapers or aspiring media groups would be excluded from applying for any such domains.

For example, The Guardian would be prohibited from owning The Sydney Morning Herald would be prohibited from owning The Times of India would be prohibited from owning

The Washington Post Sale

Under pressure from the shifts occurring on the internet and changes in consumer behavior, the global media landscape is being re-aligned and re-calibrated. The sale of The Washington Post is a symbol of this.

In late 2012, following sustained declines in revenue, The Washington Post Chief Executive Donald E Graham was presented with stark choices for the future of The Post by publisher Katharine Weymouth. This included the possibility of selling the paper, and it ended up being sold to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.

"Bezos, 49, will take the company private, meaning he will not have to report quarterly earnings to shareholders or be subjected to investors' demands for ever-rising profits, as the publicly traded Washington Post Co. is obligated to do now. As such, he will be able to experiment with the paper without the pressure of showing an immediate return on any investment. Indeed, Bezos's history of patient investment and long-term strategic thinking made him an attractive buyer, Weymouth said."

The Washington Post. Washington Post to be sold to Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.

With private label "walled garden" access to the .news domain string via association with Jeff Bezos and Amazon, The Washington Post has the potential to leverage its already significant media resources into an unprecedented media conglomerate utilizing the exact names of every city, town and suburb in the world with all competitors blocked. (Country names may be allowed later.)

If this is Jeff Bezos' plan, and if permitted by ICANN, this scenario would clearly be anti-competitive. It would clearly contravene ICANN's own mission and philosophy as evidenced on the ICANN Claims page.

city domain name graphics

Imagine if The Washington Post group owns the .news domain of every city in the world. That day may possibly arrive if Jeff Bezos/Amazon/The Washington Post build a global news empire based on thousands of domains like the tiny sample pictured above.

GAC Beijing Communiqué

In the Beijing Communiqué ICANN's GAC specifically welcomed the influential brand lobbist Brand Registry Group, which includes Amazon, the biggest applicant for closed registries — and who is also the applicant for an exclusory major geographic region as a closed gTLD — .amazon.

"The GAC warmly thanks the Accountability and Transparency Review Team 2, the Brand Registry Group, Law Enforcement, and the ICANN Board who jointly met with the GAC as well as all those among the ICANN community who have contributed to the dialogue with the GAC in Beijing."

Beijing Communiqué, April 2013 (page 2)

There was no complementary, balanced welcome to any opposing group such as the six South American governments who are lobbying for the rights of the peoples of South America.

"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. Therefore, the Governments of Brazil and Peru (GAC Members), with full endorsement of Bolivia, Ecuador and Guyana (Amazonic non-GAC members) and also of the Government of Argentina, would like to request that the '.AMAZON' gTLD application be included in the GAC early warning process."

GAC Early Warning Document

The Guardian Reports

In April 2013 The Guardian reported on Brazilian and Peruvian government objections to the Amazon company profiting from use of the .amazon string and its inherent pre-existing prestige and goodwill. Further, various South American governments would like to retain the option of using the proposed domains for the pursuit of environmental protection and indigenous rights. This would not be possible under the closed gTLD model.

"Brazil and Peru have called for the .amazon application to be withdrawn, saying a private company should not be assigned a name that denotes an important geographic area that spans their territories, and is also used for certain regions and cross-border organisations.

" 'Allowing private companies to register geographic names as gTLDs to reinforce their brand strategy or to profit from the meaning of these names does not serve, in our view, the public interest,' the Brazilian ministry of science and technology said."

Amazon v the Amazon. The Guardian

ICANN's Mission

If ICANN ultimately permits the roll-out of closed generic top level domains, how can it also claim to have met its often stated mission to promote the highest possible level of fairness and equity on the internet? How can allowing closed gTLDs facilitate wider choice for consumers and business in the domain name system, a goal it has repeatedly professed to strive for? How would this be in the public interest?

"ICANN developed the New generic Top-Level Domain Program to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system."

ICANN website. New Generic Top-Level Domains. New gTLD Applied-For Strings.

SPECIAL NOTE: Country names, such as, seem to be currently excluded from the forthcoming new extensions in the domain name system while city names are allowed. However, lobbying has already commenced to permit country names to be deployed on certain generic domain strings, for example, one of the Brand Registry Group's aims is to:

"Fast-track permission to use country names and other geographical names within the gTLD."

Brand Registry Group FAQ



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au time logo — A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names — coming in 2013-14.



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