Merchant Law vies for new Internet domains

Source: Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Canadian Lawyer Mag

Regina-based law firm Merchant Law Group LLP is one of several Canadian companies competing for a new piece of the web.

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers just released the list of applicants for new generic top-level domains, such as .app, .corp, .inc, .web, etc. Currently, there are only 22 generic top-level domains available, but ICANN is creating new addresses to ramp up competition and selection and by allowing more private companies to manage suffix registries. ICANN has received more than 1,900 applications for the new TLDs.

Registering a web address is relatively inexpensive for consumers, but applying for one of the new TLDs could cost up to $2 million: there is a $185,000 application fee and $25,000 in annual charges, plus ancillary costs and legal fees.

Merchant Law has applied for eight domains, including .app, .art, .blog, .club, .home, .law, .love, and .news. In some cases, the law firm is up against Internet giants Google and Amazon. ICANN has requested that groups fighting for the same domain negotiate amongst themselves first and if a settlement can't be reached then it will go to auction.

"We don't see this as a situation where we can't involve venture capital or other sorts of strategic alliances to get to where we want to be," managing partner Evatt Merchant told

Merchant said the firm was originally going to bid on a dozen domains but scaled it back to eight. It has partnered with CentralNic Ltd. to operate the technical side of things while it focuses on marketing.

Other Canadian companies such as Rogers Communications Inc., Shaw Cablesystems, and Tucows TLDs Inc. are also vying for some of the new domains.

Phone calls to Merchant Law were not returned by press time.