A seven-year battle between Amazon and eight South American countries will soon be coming to an end. At the heart of the battle is the “.amazon” generic top-level domain (gTLD).
In 2012, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) decided to expand gTLDs from the usual .com and .net to include brand names. Many brands snapped up their own gTLDs, including e-retail giant Amazon. However, soon after, the eight South American countries that share the Amazon River—Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela—objected to the move, saying Amazon’s exclusivity of the .amazon gTLD could impact matters of their sovereignty, reports the BBC.
Since then, the eight countries and Amazon have been in a battle over the domain. So what does each side want?
- The eight South American countries have simply asked that Amazon shares the .amazon domain with them. They do not seek to block Amazon from using the domain for sites such as “kindle.amazon” and “books.amazon.” In turn, the countries would be able to use the .amazon domain for sites such as “tourism.amazon.”
- But Amazon doesn’t want this sharing agreement. Instead, Amazon wants the eight South American countries to only be able to use the .amazon gTDL with country-code modifiers attached. For example, instead of, say, Brazil using “tourism.amazon,” it would need to use “tourism.br.amazon.”
Amazon and the eight countries have been ordered to reach an agreement in two days—April 7. If they cannot, it will be up to ICANN to make a decision on ownership and usage rights for the .amazon gTDL.
What’s a bit odd is that Amazon clearly thinks the .amazon gTDL is worth a lot from a brand perspective, yet back in 2018 the company tried to settle the dispute with the eight South American countries by promising them just $5 million for rights to the gTDL—and that wasn’t a cash offer. It was $5 million worth of free Kindle e-readers and hosting services.
The eight countries turned Amazon down. As Francisco Carrión, the Ecuadorian ambassador to the U.S., explained in a letter sent to ICANN in March: “We are not looking for financial compensation. Nor are we after ex gratia concessions to use one or a few second-level domains. It is a matter of sovereignty for many of us, and the offer to share the TLDs with the company Amazon Inc. is already a compromise.”