Groundbreaking Change for Internet as ICANN Approves New gTLDs

Significant Change to the Internet
After years of deliberation and consultation, ICANN (the non-profit organization that runs the internet) has finally approved plans to increase generic Top Level Domains (“gTLDs”), a decision that will dramatically change the internet.

A gTLD is the last component of a domain name (i.e. ‘dot-com’, ‘dot-net’, ‘dot-org’).  Currently, there are 22 gTLDs.  With over 1.6 billion internet users, and every indication that this number will increase exponentially , ICANN became concerned that the internet highway would cease to be limitless. 

ICANN has opened the floor to the world for each to create their own gTLD and registry to govern it.  The new gTLDs can be any configuration (i.e. ‘dot-fashionhouse’, ‘dot-luxurybrand’, ‘dot-city’, ‘dot-beverage’, etc.).  Under this regime, the internet will literally become limitless.  Thus, we may see ‘dot-PRADA, ‘dot-BMW’, dot-Toronto, or ‘dot-wine’, for example.  But it will cost you: $185,000 (US) to be exact.  Applications open on January 12, 2012.  Applicants must demonstrate that they have a legitimate claim to the gTLD they are buying.  Whereas this may be more simple with unique brands (i.e. dot-XEROX), it is complicated for brands that are not as distinctive (i.e. dot-DOVE).  In Canada, both Mars Canada Inc. and Unilever Canada Inc. own rights to the trade-mark DOVE.  If both brand owners have rights to the trade-mark in Canada, who has the right to “dot-DOVE” throughout the world?  This goes to the root of the issue between domain names and trade-marks, which we will see play out in the gold rush for new gTLDs.

Sibling Rivalry: The intersection of Domain Names and Trade-marks

Domain names and trade-mark owners have always had a contentious co-existence.  Whereas trade-mark rights are granted on a use basis, domain names are registered on a “first-come, first-serve” basis.  Obtaining a trade-mark registration requires rigorous prosecution; the threshold for obtaining a domain name is very low.  Trade-mark rights are granted territorially; domain names are global.  Identical trade-marks can co-exist in association with sufficiently disparate wares and services; once a domain name is registered, there cannot be any duplicate domain name.  The exclusivity of the domain name registration and the “first-come, first-serve” characteristics of the domain name can be a great cause of frustration for trade-mark owners.  This frustration will no doubt be compounded with the release of new gTLDs. 

Interview with Damn Heels Entrepreneur

At the last LG Fashion Week I was fortunate to meet Hailey Coleman, Creator and President of Damn Heels Inc.  Hailey's company created a product line that has great potential within the shoe industry.  As a company that is still in the growth stages, I thought it would be interesting to appreciate the practical journey of an emerging Canadian company in the fashion industry.  I hope you enjoy our interview below:

1.  Tell me about your product and how you came up with the idea?
After one excruciatingly painful, hour-long post-party walk home in London, England, I decided that walking the streets barefoot was a faux pas that could – and needed – to be prevented. Damn Heels has introduced sexy, fold-up flats tucked into a small pouch that expands into a trendy tote bag. Women slip their sore, blistered feet into the soft-sided flats and their stilettos into the tote.

The shoes and tote come pre-packaged 

The shoes pack up nice

The shoes come in a variety of sizes
The package folds out into a handy-dandy tote to take your "damn" shoes home.

 2.  Do you have a target audience in mind? What is your strategy to reach them?
Damn Heels is targeting hip, urban, professional women. We’re looking to reach these ladies in unique ways other than the average shoe

3.  As an emerging designer and business owner, what were the significant or most surprising challenges you faced? How did you overcome them?
I don’t know if anything was surprising because everything was so new to me. Every step has been a challenge and most importantly a learning experience.

4.  What kind of financial, business or support resources/services were available to you either through the government or the fashion industry? How did they help you?
There are many business plan competitions that offer cash prizes. I’m also working with the Canadian Youth Business Foundation that has some fabulous resources for young entrepreneurs. I think the greatest thing for me has been reaching out to people who have been in the business or other similar industries for advise.

5.  You were quite successful on Dragon’s Den. Tell us about that experience.
Dragons’ Den was a fabulous experience and offered really great exposure for Damn Heels not only in Canada, but internationally as well.

6.  Do you have other projects lined up? Tell us about them.
I’ve started another company called Damn Straight. We’re installing coin operated hair straighteners in women’s washroom. Ladies no longer have to lug the hair straightener to the gym or can give themselves a little touch up at the bar. I’ve got a few other things tucked up my sleeves, but you’ll have to wait and see.

7. As your business grows, are you focusing on the Canadian market or looking abroad? Why?
I’m not only focused on Canada. The world is rather small and there is awesome opportunity everywhere.

8.  What has surprised you the most about your journey to success?
The most incredible part of starting Damn Heels is all the amazing experiences and people I’ve had the opportunity to meet.

9.  From creating to manufacturing to marketing and, finally, sales – what has been the most interesting aspect of the business and why? Which has been the most challenging?
I find the design and the marketing the most exciting part. Sales are not my forte, but I’m working on it.

10.  What advice would you give the emerging designer?
I have a few things that I live by:  Do it! Get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Put yourself out there.

11.  Where can we find your product line?
Ladies can purchase Damn Heels online and view our retailers at