The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers has proposed rules for auctioning off contested generic top-level domains like “.MLS” to the highest bidder.

With the backing of MLS Domains Association, a nonprofit group of 55 U.S. multiple listings services representing more than 600,000 agents and brokers, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has  applied to ICANN to create and manage a new .MLS top-level domain.

If granted authority to manage a “.MLS” top-level domain, only members of CREA and its foreign affiliates will be permitted to register .MLS websites such as “Toronto.mls” or “Chicago.mls.”

But Dublin, Ireland-based Afilias Ltd. has also applied to ICANN to manage a “.MLS” top-level domain. In July, an arbitration panel declined to throw out Afilias’ rival application on the grounds that “MLS” is a generic term in English-speaking countries.

Unless CREA and Afilias work out their differences, the right to administer the “.MLS” top-level domain could go to the highest bidder.

The National Association of Realtors has also applied to ICANN for the right to administer .realtor, and ICANN is expected to approve the uncontested application.

If NAR’s application is approved, only NAR and CREA members will be eligible for a .realtor domain. NAR plans to provide the first 500,000 members who apply with a free .realtor domain associated with their name for one year.

ICANN reports that it’s received a total of 1,930 applications to manage new generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”), of which 1,814 remained active as of Aug. 21. More than 200 proposed gTLDs are contested. Source: icann.org

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