Home / Blogs

ICANN Should Clarify Position On Key Word New TLDs

Don't miss a thing – sign up for CircleID Weekly Wrap newsletter delivered to your inbox once a week.
Michele Neylon

Back in September a number of domain name industry leaders wrote to ICANN to express deep-felt concerns about some companies' declared plans for generic domain name extensions.

We have sent ICANN another letter this week which is also planned to be distributed in a press release included below.

* * *

Blacknight Asks ICANN to Clarify Position on Generic Key Word New TLDs
Leading Irish registrar and hosting company say non-trademarked words belong to everyone

January 25, 2013, Carlow, Ireland - Blacknight has sent a second letter to ICANN urging the organization to formally clarify its position on Generic Key Word TLDs.

Blacknight and fellow signatories of the letter seek clarification on non-trade marked generic key word TLDs, specifically whether ICANN will allow them to be operated in a "closed" manner. The most recent version of the "Registry Operator Code of Conduct" states that any applicant who wishes to operate a closed TLD would file an exception request to operate the TLD thusly.

The letter encourages ICANN to consider the adoption of a process in which applicants who wish to operate a closed TLD, meet certain, transparent criteria.

The letter suggests that to gain an exception, a registry must only use the TLD for its exclusive use, not make domain names available for public registration and provide proof that "application of this Code of Conduct to the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest."

While there are several issues regarding New gTLDs that remain unclear, this issue most directly affects the public.

Michele Neylon of Blacknight explains: "As a community, we supported a program that would expand the name space for competition, to further the Internet and to provide a broader choice for our customers. Our collective aim is to help the Internet into this next stage, not to take generic key words that essentially belong to "everyone" and tie him or her up."

The letter states that an exception should be made only if: "The trademark to which the .brand is an identical match is the subject of trademark registrations of national effect in at least three countries in each of at least three of the five ICANN regions, for first round applicants, the registrations of national effect must have been issued on or before June 27, 2008, and the trademark is otherwise eligible for inclusion in the Trademark Clearinghouse."

Kathy Kleiman of Fletcher, Heald & Hildreth who is also a signatory observed: "a number of applications seek to run 'generic word' strings in a completely closed and vertically integrated fashion. Those who have signed the letter wish to see ICANN resolve the ambiguity surrounding these applications consistent with the limited scope of the exception, and provide clarity for New gTLD applicants."

Blacknight has sent a previous letter in September 2012 to ICANN expressing concern that it is generally understood that new gTLDs would be operated in a closed manner only under very defined circumstances.

The ICANN board will meet to discuss this and other New gTLD issues in the coming week.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions. More blog posts from Michele Neylon can also be read here.

Related topics: ICANN, Internet Governance, Policy & Regulation, Top-Level Domains



Hi gang.Here are some observations, as a Mike OConnor  –  Jan 25, 2013 9:36 AM PDT

Hi gang.

Here are some observations, as a fellow participant in the VI Working Group.

-- This issue was right at the heart of the VI-WG discussion.  My read of the Board's decision (and subsequent implementation in the Guidebook) is that vertical integration is allowed, unless it creates a competition problem.

-- My read of the "internal use only" exemption that's in the Applicant Guidebook is available to ALL applicants, not just "dot-brand" applicants (since there's no reference to the "dot-brand" concept in the Code). 

-- The whole point of the exemption is to allow registries the option of not offering their domains through ANY registrars (except their own).  Dot-brand people were the most visible proponents of this view, but dot-generics fit the same bill.

-- It's hard to understand how your proposed process works: how do you make equal access a requirement for getting an exemption from equal access?

So I'm not surprised by the closed-generic applications, in fact I would have been surprised if there hadn't been any.

BTW, isn't this proposal a lot like the kerfuffle over the Strawman Solution?  A second bite at the VI apple?  Wouldn't it need to go through some kind of policy-making process, and be similarly unfair to organizations who built applications under the current structure?

I don't understood this kerfuffle Avri Doria  –  Feb 01, 2013 11:06 AM PDT

I have never seen a contradiction in being closed, either for a brand or for other closed gTLD, and the requirements for Registrar Equal Opportunity.

Even if a registry takes advantage of VI, signs the RAA and pays their fee, they can still be open to other registrars who meet the same conditions, e.g.

- All registrations, renewals and removals MUST be pre-approved by Department of Approvals
- The fee for all registrations will be equal to the ICANN fee + a fixed service surcharge
- Registrar MAY NOT market other services to registrants without first receiving Purchase Order from Department of Procurement.

I ask, what is the problem? 

Sure some of us have attachements to words.  And some words like 'book,' seem downright sacred.

But that does not make a difference in terms of Registrar Equal Opportunity (REO).  Nor does if seems to transgress any other of the bottom-up policies on new gTLDS.

To post comments, please login or create an account.

Related Blogs

Related News

Explore Topics

Sponsored Topics

Promoted Posts

Now Is the Time for .eco

.eco launches globally at 16:00 UTC on April 25, 2017, when domains will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. .eco is for businesses, non-profits and people committed to positive change for the planet. See list of registrars offering .eco more»

Boston Ivy Gets Competitive With Its TLDs, Offers Registrars New Wholesale Pricing

With a mission to make its top-level domains available to the broadest market possible, Boston Ivy has permanently reduced its registration, renewal and transfer prices for .Broker, .Forex, .Markets and .Trading. more»

Industry Updates – Sponsored Posts

Leading Internet Associations Strengthen Cooperation

5 Afilias Top Level Domains Now Licensed for Sale in China

Radix Announces Largest New gTLD Sale with Casino.Online

2016 Year in Review: The Trending Keywords in .COM and .NET Domain Registrations

Global Domain Name Registrations Reach 329.3 Million, 2.3 Million Growth in Last Quarter of 2016

i2Coalition to Present Tucows CEO Elliot Noss With Internet Community Leadership Award

A Look at How the New .SPACE TLD Has Performed Over the Past 2 Years

Michele Neylon Appointed Chair Elect of i2Coalition

Neustar to be Acquired by Private Investment Group Led by Golden Gate Capital

Startup League Reports from WebSummit, Lisbon

2016 U.S. Election: An Internet Forecast

.SPACE Becomes the Choice of the First Ever Space Nation Asgardia

Afilias Chairman Jonathan Robinson Wins ICANN's 2016 Leadership Award at ICANN 57

MarkMonitor Supports Brand Holders' Efforts Regarding .Feedback Registry

Why .com is the Venture Capital Community's Power Player

The .cancerresearch TLD: Search for Cure Drives Digital Innovation

New TLD? Make Sure It's Secure

Radix Launches Startup League at TechCrunch

Celebrating One Year of .online

LogicBoxes Launches the New Elite Reseller Program