Another reason you need to pay attention to the new top level domain process at ICANN.
I think it’s time to start a “Threatdown” for domain owners, a la Stephen Colbert. The threats to domain name owners in the new top level domain process at ICANN are far scarier than Colbert’s perennial threat: bears.
Today’s threat is the protection of city and other place names at the second level. We’re not talking about top level domains such as .nyc. We’re talking about domains like NewYork.tld.
Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), the UN-type constituency of ICANN, is proposing “country, territory, and place names should be protected at the top and second levels in new gTLDs”.
ICANN CEO Paul Twomey (who conveniently won’t be around when new TLDs finally rear their ugly heads) has pushed back on GAC, but the threat remains. In a letter (pdf) from Twomey to GAC’s Chairman earlier this month, Twomey pointed out many of the challenges of protecting place names at the second level. For example, if IBM wants .IBM, it shouldn’t be forbidden from using France.IBM as a domain. (Why IBM would want to do this is still unclear to me).
But the door is still open, as Twomey writes:
While these challenges remain in terms of implementing elements of 2.7, recent discussions suggest that there may be possible mechanisms that offer protections to country and territory names at the second level. The elaboration of possible mechanisms by GAC members is sought, to enable further discussion of the feasibility of such mechanisms with a view to finding a workable solution for resolving this outstanding issue.
GAC will certainly be able to influence ICANN even more when U.S. oversight of the ICANN is lost later this year. Hold onto your hats, folks.
The deadline to comment on the 2nd version of the gTLD handbook is April 13.
Threatdown is a fantastic idea!
I have always said that Geo’s are a little sketchy. These places like “SanDiego.com” are incorporated municipalities into the US. A city is essentially like a business, so I see a paralell to a typical TM issue. I do like geo’s and I think they are way safer than a TM domain (obviously) however less secure than something like Toys.com. The question I ask about protecting “Place Names” is if you can’t register “SanDiego.tld” could you register “SanDiegoComputerRepair.tld”? I own SanDiegoComputerRepair.com.
I have always thought geo domains to be a bit riskier than just a generic like Toys.com. These geos like SanDiego.com are incorporated cities in the US, similar to a corporation. We can agree to disagree, but I’m sure we can all agree that there are some paralells between cities and corporations. And when all the Cities in the US decide they want their domains back, what are you going to do about it? They are a pretty big component of our government.
So the big question on my mind is if GAC wants to protect stuff like SanDiego.tld, how about SanDiegoComputerRepair.tld? I own SanDiegoComputerRepair.com.
Philip Corwin says
The ICA filed comments opposing the GAC position on Geo names in new gTLDs back in December 2008 and I spoke out on this as well at the ICANN Public Forum during the Mexico City meeting in early March.
ICA is the only organization informing domainers of the trademark and geo name threats arising in the new gTLD process and the only organization defending your interests in the ICANN process.These issues remain very much in play and will be revisited by the ICANN Board at the Sydney meeting in June.