Amazon Domain Quest Thwarted? Latin American Countries Want ICANN To Reject Retail Giant’s Suffix Application

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Jeff Bezos is said to have named Amazon.com after the largest river in the world, but he probably never imagined he’d find himself in a virtual territory dispute with the region’s inhabitants. 

A group of Latin American countries may have thwarted Amazon.com Inc.'s (NASDAQ:AMZN) efforts to use the .amazon suffix for Internet addresses. The countries -- including Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile and Peru -- objected to the online retail behemoth’s proposed use of the suffix on the grounds that the word "Amazon" is already associated with their region. Representatives who advise the Internet industry apparently agree.   

At a meeting in Durban, South Africa, last week, a committee for the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers recommended that Amazon.com be rejected for the top-level domain -- the highest level in the Internet’s hierarchical domain name system. 

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee, or GAC, advised that the Amazon’s application for the domain not proceed past the evaluation stage. The committee’s “Durban Communique,” released on Thursday, did not specifically say why it made the recommendation. However, as the New York Times reported, officials from the Latin American countries sent a letter to ICANN in advance of the Durban meeting, arguing that the name "Amazon" represents important territories within the regions:   

“In particular ‘.amazon’ is a geographic name that represents important territories of some of our countries, which have relevant communities, with their own culture and identity directly connected with the name. Beyond the specifics, this should also be understood as a matter of principle.”

Spanish explorers began referring to the Amazon River by its current name in 1541, some 423 years before Jeff Bezos was born. The river was named for the Amazon warrior women in Greek mythology. 

Despite GAC’s opinion, ICANN could still approve Amazon’s application, although its board typically follows GAC’s recommendations.

In a statement, Amazon seemed hopeful that a resolution could be reached. 

“We’re reviewing the G.A.C. advice, and we look forward to working with Icann and other stakeholders to resolve these issues as the process moves forward,” the company said. 

Read the GAC’s full decision here.

 

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