Ecuador and seven other countries battle Amazon, Inc. for use of the Amazon domain name

Apr 8, 2019

By Dennis Green

It’s Amazon versus the rainforest.

Tech giant Amazon and eight South American countries are battling over who gets to use the “.amazon” domain, the BBC reports. The two parties have been battling since 2012, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — known as ICANN — expanded the rules for domains beyond the typically used .com and .net.

Is this the real Amazon?

Back then, Amazon moved fast to petition ICANN for exclusive use of the top-level domain “.amazon,” like many brands seeking to protect and solidify their web presence.

The only problem: the web giant isn’t the only thing named Amazon in the world, and the rainforest has been around a lot longer.

The eight members of the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO), Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela, took exception to Amazon’s request for exclusive use of the domain. The Amazon rainforest and river are large, prominent geographic feature of these countries.

Or is this?

“We are not looking for financial compensation. Nor are we after ex-gratia concessions to use one or a few second-level domains,” Francisco Carrión, Ecuadorian ambassador to the U.S., said in a letter to ICANN in March, according to the BBC. “It is a matter of sovereignty for many of us, and the offer to share the [top-level domains] with the company Amazon, Inc. is already a compromise.”

The battle has been raging for years but has heated up since 2018, when Amazon’s application was taken off the “will not proceed list” by ICANN, where it languished for years.

Under a shared governance plan proposed by the ACTO, the company would be able to use the domain for URLs such as books.amazon, kindle.amazon, or others as they come up and grow in commercial interest to Amazon, according to the BBC.

The countries, on the other hand, would be able to use the domain for purposes like tourism — tourism.amazon, for example — or cultural heritage.

The plan also includes a committee to provide a place for either Amazon or the countries in ACTO to object to new domains in the future.

Amazon would rather the countries stick to modifications of the .amazon domain for their use, such as br.amazon for Brazil, according to the BBC. The company also said it would work with the countries to point out and eliminate any names that are either confusing or sensitive.

The company also reportedly tried to make the ACTO countries see its side of things by offering $5 million worth of Kindle e-readers if they dropped the opposition in 2018. The countries did not agree to those terms.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

So far, neither side has been willing to concede any additional ground. In March, ICANN told both parties they would be given until April 7 to hammer out a deal.

The day came and went, and neither Amazon nor ACTO notified ICANN that an agreement was reached, according to a spokesperson for ICANN.

According to ICANN’s resolution, Amazon now has until April 21 to “submit a proposal on how it will address the ACTO member states’ continuing concerns regarding” Amazon’s applications.

Amazon is no stranger to attempting to control domains close to its business. The company purchased exclusive use of .buy in 2014 for almost $5 million and won an auction for the .book domain for $10 million in 2014, despite protests from the publishing industry.
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Credit: Business Insider, www.businessinsider.in

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