GE, J&J Among 40 Companies Opposed to Expanding Web Names

General Electric Co. (GE) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) are among 40 companies joining a coalition to oppose the introduction of potentially hundreds of Web suffixes beyond .com, according to an advertising-industry group.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the nonprofit organization managing the Web’s global address system under a U.S. Commerce Department contract, is preparing to consider almost any word in any language as a Web suffix, including company and brand names or terms such as .eco or .nyc. The group will accept applications from Jan. 12 through April 12, 2012, for as many as 1,000 new suffixes a year. The application fee is $185,000 for each domain name.

The Association of National Advertisers, which has criticized the program as potentially costly to businesses and confusing to consumers, said 47 industry associations including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have also joined the coalition opposing the domain-name expansion. The group will send a petition to the Commerce Department objecting to the program, the ANA said in a statement.

“This unprecedented, united opposition to Icann’s top- level domain expansion program clearly demonstrates the enormity of the dissatisfaction across the Internet stakeholder community,” ANA President Bob Liodice said in the statement. “We implore Icann to discontinue its efforts to roll out this ill-conceived, unwanted and destructive program.”

Expanding Domains

Icann, the Commerce Department and GE, the world’s largest maker of jet engines and medical-imaging machines, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails requesting comment. Carol Goodrich, a spokeswoman for J&J, the world’s second-largest seller of health products, declined to comment.

Other members of the coalition opposing the domain-name expansion include American Express Co. (AXP), Coca-Cola Co. (KO), Costco Wholesale Corp. (COST), Ford Motor Co. (F), JC Penney Co., and Kellogg Co. (K), according to ANA.

Icann, overseer of the Internet’s address system since 1998, currently manages 22 so-called generic top-level domains, including the commonly used .com, .org and .net. After six years of deliberation, the Marina del Ray, California-based group’s board voted June 20 to expand the number of those domains as a way to spur online innovation.

The expansion may foster competition in the domain sector, support new business models online and provide consumers with new ways to find products, according to an analysis prepared for the oversight group in June 2010.

No Application Plans

Canon Inc. (CAJ) and Hitachi Ltd. are among the few large companies that have expressed public interest in the new domains.

Procter & Gamble Co. (PG), the world’s largest consumer products company with more than 50 brands including Tide and Pampers, and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), the biggest computer maker, have said they have no plans to apply for Web suffixes.

P&G, based in Cincinnati, will focus on existing .com sites, Tonia Elrod, a spokeswoman, said in an e-mail last month.

Icann is operating under a Commerce Department contract that expires in March. The agency is reviewing public comments on whether the terms should be amended and plans to open the contract for bidding this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Engleman in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Shepard at

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