Weather dot-controversy

The ubiquitous Weather Channel set off a storm when it decided unilaterally to name winter storms this season over the objections of its competitors.

But that storm might look like a spring shower compared to the one stirred by TWC's application to claim the "dot-weather" Internet suffix.

"It's one of the least-professional things I've seen ... in a long time," said Barry Lee Myers, chief executive officer of Accu-Weather Inc.

"The application was a part of a widely publicized open process," TWC's David Blumenthal said in a statement. "The Weather Channel was the only entity that chose to apply for .weather."

"It crossed our minds," said Myers. "We looked at it and said, 'Why would anybody ever do this. It's such an egregious concept."

A bit of backround.

As our Jeff Gelles wrote in an Inquirer story last June, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers decided to expand a universe dominated by addresses ending in familiar suffixes -- for example, .org. com, . edu.

The result has been described as a "land rush" as almost 2,000 applications were received. Among the proposed new suffixes were dot-Apple and dot-NFL. The process is not for the shallow of pocket -- the non-refundable application fee is $185,000.

But in Myers's view what TWC is proposing constitutes a land grab. The entities joining Accu-Weather in opposing the application include Unisys and Earth Networks Inc.

Myers said the concept that TWC would stake such a claim is preposterous. "They want to take complete control over domain names," he said. "It's just anti-competitive."

Among other things, he said, the dot-weather suffix would give TWC a tremendous advantage in drawing web traffic.

Myers said he was particulary rankled by this statement in the TWC application: “Consumer trust has been eroded by unauthorized and inaccurate sources of information.”

"There's no support for any of this," he said."This is downright offense to companies like Accu-Weather. Myers said using the term "unauthorized" implies falsely the existence of a government authorization process.

"If anything," he said, "Everyone in the field has built a greater and greater trust and conscern for precision and accuracy."