Corporate lawyers remember well the good old days of the Internet, when there were just a few domains available: .com, .net, .edu, .gov, etc. Then the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the company that controls Internet domain naming, expanded the number of domains considerably to include .biz, .info, .name, etc.
At about the same time, domain name piracy—where unaffiliated third parties register domain names incorporating the brands of legitimate businesses—became a commonplace scourge, forcing brand owners everywhere to expend resources knocking pirates off of illegitimately-registered domain names. The proliferation of domains made piracy easier, with more choices available to the pirates. This in turn drove more legal expense for brand owners. To combat the problem, ICANN initiated the Uniform Dispute Resolution Process (UDRP), which enabled brand owners to take their domains back from the pirates at a lower cost. So while brand owners were still forced to spend money dealing with domain name pirates, the brand owners at least had an efficient vehicle available for this purpose.
Countering the downsides of the new top level domain system are some important positive opportunities. Perhaps most prominent is the opportunity for new registries to police their participants, ensuring that the goods sold under those registries are genuine, that brands are represented in accordance with the law and best practice, and that participating businesses are themselves legitimate and willing/able to stand behind the products and services they provide over the Internet. Imagine a “.health” domain through which you can be confident you are ordering genuine products from the actual companies whose brands you see advertised and where you have no concern your payment information or personal data will be misused by a fraudster misrepresenting itself as a legitimate enterprise. That would be a big step forward for the Internet, and is now possible with the advent of the new top level domain system.
Other pro-consumer opportunities are by no means unimportant: the ability of brands to more clearly distinguish themselves by establishing registries at the top level; the ability of distinctive geographical areas (Kobe, Napa, Roquefort) to accurately call attention to the famous products they provide.