ICANN releases draft “Explanatory Memoranda Papers” for review.
Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today published four draft papers about the introduction of new global top level domains (gTLD). (For a primer on these new TLDs, see New Top Level Domain Names: Challenges and Opportunities.)
The papers cover:
1. Resolving “string contention” when more the one entity applies for similar TLDs
2. Proposed process for geographic TLD applications
3. Stability issues with additional updates for Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs)
4. Trademark and other rights protection
I reviewed each of the papers, although I must confess to skimming over the detailed explanation of string contention resolution. Here’s my take:
Geographic TLDs are going to be a mess
There is disagreement between ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and Generic Names Supporting Organization’s (GNSO) recommendations. GAC is made up of representatives from countries whereas GNSO is a multi-stakeholder organization that helps coordinate policy.
GAC wants local rights to domain names that include geographic domain names. For example, Brazil might lay claim to .brazil. But there are a myriad of problems with this.
Right now it looks like the common ground is to require TLD applicants who apply for a geographic domain name and intend to use it for that geography (as opposed to a brand name) to get approval by the government of the geography. That’s not simple. I could probably get approval from the right people for .austin. If I wanted .texas, I suspect several different groups within the state government would believe they had authority to grant the rights.
You should provide feedback about geographic TLDs if you own second level geographic domain names (e.g. Austin.com). If GAC gets concessions here I can see some of this spilling over into the second level space.
Post-delegation Disputes can wreak havoc on the internet
Think it’s bad that you can create a web site only to have your domain name taken away in a UDRP arbitration decision? Imagine if .com were taken away in a dispute.
There will be some sort of process to handle disputes after a TLD is delegated and starts operating. Imagine this scenario: a company applies for .att for “Attorney” and starts offering registrations. Attorneys register the domains and create web sites. Then AT&T (NYSE: T), the global communications company, files a complaint that the top level domain infringes.
There’s a lot still to be worked out with new gTLDs, and the next ICANN meeting in Cairo will involve a lot of debate.