Republican National Committee loses fight over .republican
RNC loses objection against Demand Media’s application to run .republican top level domain name.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) has lost a community objection it filed against Demand Media’s application to run the .republican top level domain name.
The RNC, which uses the domain name gop.com, is behind an application for the .gop domain name.
This case is really interesting, as panelist Brigitte Stern provided a very detailed analysis of the language of community objections and what the point of these objections is. The analysis hits on an issue that has stood out in community objections: can a group that represents just a part of the overall community to which a domain will be targeted be able kill an application on community grounds?
In this particular case, the RNC argued it represents the “Republican Community.” But much of the proof it submitted was based on representing the U.S. Republican Party. Stern determined that it had standing to object for the community of the U.S. Republican Party, but not the undelineated overall worldwide republican community.
The Republican Community is reported by the Objector to have been in existence for 150 years. The Expert is forced to characterize this as an affront to history. Republican communities have existed since ancient times and many countries have been guided by the idea of republicanism throughout their political history. The Objector appears to wrongfully assimilate the history of its institution with that of the idea of republicanism.
The RNC provided evidence of substantial opposition from the U.S. Republican Party. But should the “substantial opposition” requirement be based on the community the objector represents, or the community at large that will be targeted by the domain? Stern sums up this question well:
[The panelist] can either consider that “substantial opposition” simply refers to the community which the Objector considers itself as representing (Option A) or that it refers both to this community and to the community to which the new gTLD string is explicitly or implicitly targeted (Option B).
The Expert will therefore first examine the consequences of Option A. If the substantial opposition referred only to the community in the name of which the opposition is filed, this would render this requirement almost meaningless. Indeed, it would allow almost any small and even a very small community in the world to submit a successful objection if all its members were in agreement.
…To accept that a small and even very small unanimous community represented by a duly established institution could successfully object to a string virtually applicable to millions of people in the world would defeat the process of validation of the new gTLD strings set up by ICANN.
Stern obviously believes in option B.
This is something that has bothered me in community objections. Consider .hotel. The objectors lost, but on the basis that they failed to prove likelihood of material detriment. Yet the objectors only purported to represent hotel owners, not hotel users. Aren’t hotel users part of the community that is targeted by the domain? There are many more hotel customers than hotel owners, so it’s not clear to me how the objectors were able to call the community just themselves.
That said, with some panelists the objectors are better off arguing they represent only a portion of the community targeted by a domain, but show significant opposition within this portion of the community.
Consider the community objections filed against .cloud. The Cloud Industry Forum tried to argue there was a clearly delineated community around the “cloud,” but the panelist pointed out that basically everyone in the world would fit into its definition. Had the Cloud Industry Forum said that the community it represented was just made up of on particular part of the community – say, data center operators – it may have qualified as clearly delineated.
I think just about everyone and anyone falls into the community of strings like hotel, too. I can’t see how there are clearly delineated communities around things that everyone is a part of – health, sport, etc.