.Tours and .Tour top level domain strings found too similar, will be placed in contention set.
Another day, another inconsistent string confusion objection for new top level domain names.
This time Google has won an objection (pdf) against Donuts’ application for .tours. Google applied for .tour, and now .tour and .tours will be placed in a contention set as a result of the ruling.
Once you see the panelist’s name for this decision, you won’t be surprised by the outcome.
Robert M Nau.
This is the same guy that ruled that “Online Shopping” in Japanese is will probably cause confusion with “.shop”. Yes, the average internet user won’t be able to differentiate between .通販 and .shop.
It’s worth repeating again how Nau defines confusion:
Generally speaking, “confusion” may include jumbled or disorganized thought. A person who is confused may have difficulty solving problems or tasks, especially those known to have been previously easy for the person, or the inability to recognize familiar objects or locations, and uncertainty about what is happening, intended, or required. Confusion may include the state of being unclear in one’s mind about something, or the mistaking of one person or thing for another, including the inability to differentiate between similar words. In the context of internet searches, confusion can arise if the user is unable to differentiate between top level domain names, and becomes unable to access information using a logical, organized thought process. A confused internet user will be unable to find his or her way around the domain in a definite or familiar manner.
With Nau’s standards of what might lead to confusion, I believe all string confusion objections would prevail.
This is the second time Google has won a string confusion objection against Donuts for a plural.
Antony Van Couvering says
“Arbitrator” should refer to arbitration, not arbitrariness. These wild and crazy panelists, with their “common-sense” redefinitions are a real scourge, and really dangerous when people start initiating Post Delegation Dispute Resolution Policy challenges for who-knows-what, with a potential death penalty for registries. Scary.
Andrew Allemann says
I’d put a lot of the blame on ICANN for how it defined in the guidebook what qualifies as string confusion.
What are these panelists qualitiacations? Are they expert linguists? Why are their opionions so expert? Why is not even an ounce of science or scientific approach being used for something which only a scientific approach could be warranted? This is a massive fail.
If they just put together some focus/test groups, paid them for the hour to undergo some simple testing in a computer lab we’d have actual scientific answers to what strings are actually confusing to people.
Andrew Allemann says
@ JP – they sort of had a first filter that was “scientific”. String confusion objections allow a number of different ways for something to be similar. It was poorly written, leaving a lot to interpretation and opinion.
Greg Shatan says
Mr. Nau’s discussion of the general meaning of “confusion” is amusing, but I don’t think it’s the key to how Nau decided this objection. The core of the holding is the next sentence:
“Here, the concurrent use of “tours”, the plural version of the root word “tour”, in a gTLD string will result in probable confusion by the average, reasonable Internet user, because the two strings have virtually the same sound, meaning, look and feel. The average Internet user would not be able to differentiate between the two strings, and in the absence of some other external information (such as an index or guidebook) would have to guess which of the two strings contains the information the user is looking to view.”
The definition of string confusion in the AGB is actually quite broad (as alluded to above) and makes it somewhat surprising that more singular/plural contentions haven’t been decided this way. Maybe Nau’s right and those who decided “no confusion” are wrong.
The AGB definition is as follows: “A DRSP panel hearing a string confusion objection will consider whether the applied-for gTLD string is likely to result in string confusion. String confusion exists where a string so nearly resembles another that it is likely to deceive or cause confusion. For a likelihood of confusion to exist, it must be probable, not merely possible that confusion will arise in the mind of the average, reasonable Internet user. Mere association, in the sense that the string brings another string to mind, is insufficient to find a likelihood of confusion.”
The AGB also clarifies: “Such category of objection is not limited to visual similarity. Rather, confusion based on any type of similarity (including visual, aural, or similarity of meaning) may be claimed by an objector.”
Andrew Allemann says
@ Greg – you’re right, it’s an entirely plausible argument that singulars and plurals will be confusingly similar. I do think it will create confusion:
Perhaps my opinion here is colored by Nau’s previous decision. If he thinks people will confuse 通販 with .shop, then anything marginally close would be considered confusing.
All singular / plural sets have a potential for confusion, even a 1st Grader will tell you that, the trouble is the selective application of said confusion.
I’m surprised the first evaluation didn’t catch that right at the very beginning.
And Google seems to be winning, either way.