Mother Nature Beats Out Amazon in Bid for “.Amazon” Domain

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May 21 2014 4:26 PM

Amazon Loses Bid for “.Amazon” Domain Name

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We think this monkey, not Amazon, deserves the domain name .wow.

Photo by Dallas Krentzel via Flickr.

Score one for Mother Nature: Amazon the e-commerce company has officially lost its bid for the .amazon domain name.

As the Internet prepares for a radical expansion of its so-called global top-level domains—the familiar appendixes to Web addresses like .com and .edu—controversy has arisen over some of the names being requested. Chief among these quarrels has been Amazon's attempt to register the .amazon domain and a group of South and Latin American countries' efforts to block it. Nations including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay had protested Amazon registering the .amazon domain because they felt it infringed on their geographical interests. (Or, as a New York Times writer quipped, because "a river runs through it.")

In letters to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the group that governs Web domains, Peru's vice minister of foreign affairs argued that Amazon's application for the .amazon domain was a "direct reference to the Amazonian region" and also the name of a part of northern Peru. "The preservation of the Amazonian biome and its local populations should prevail over the interests of a private company which [sic] name is inspired by the region itself," he wrote.

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Amazon has argued that it has a legitimate claim to the "non-geographic use" of the name and that the company should not be punished for applying for the domain when the governments themselves did not. (Responsible governments like Switzerland and Paris made a point of filing for .swiss and .paris, Amazon notes.) Should regions wish to have a domain representing their interests, the company adds, they could apply for local variations of the term such as .amazonia, .amazonas, and .amazonica. ICANN officially rejected the bid last week but had recommended as early as July 2013 that the domain not be approved.

South and Latin American nations have not been the only ones to criticize Amazon's attempted domain acquisitions—the online retailer also drew the ire of the publishing industry after it requested domains including .book, .author, and .read. Other registration applications it has applied for include .movie, .app, and best of all, .wow.

Alison Griswold is a Slate staff writer covering business and economics.

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