The .Architect objection had some unique characteristics, but the panelist’s decision may concern other applicants.
The International Chamber of Commerce today issued its decision (pdf) on an objection to Donuts’ application for the .architect top level domain name.
The panelist found in favor of the objector, International Union of Architects (UIA), which is backing a rival application for .archi.
As we found with string similarity objections, different panelists may decide similar cases differently. That said, I think that even if Reiner determined every case, his determination in this one may be fairly limited in scope when applied to the others. That said, parts of his decision may concerns other applicants facing objections.
Why this case is limited in scope:
1. This case was for the name of a profession.
The .architect case involved a profession, and Reiner made it clear that played greatly in his thinking. The only other case that I would view as a profession is .broker. Most others involve a thing unrelated to a person’s profession, such as gold or weather.
It’s also worth noting that this involved a profession that, at least when applied to structural architects, is usually licensed.
2. This case also hinged on the definition of the string.
If in the case of a profession, in this case the panelist was at odds with Donuts on the definition of the word itself.
One of the key factors in this ruling is what the term “architect” means. UIA argued that it means “structural architects” while Donuts argued it could mean any type of architect (e.g. landscape architect, software architect, etc.).
Reiner determined that when you hear the word architect, you think of a structural architect — not any other type of architect.
I don’t see this being a major point of issue in other cases. Based on Reiner’s rationale in this case I don’t think he’d argue that, when you hear the word “broker”, you would think of stockbroker as compared to real estate broker.
This issue could also come up in .ski. Is that snow skiing or water skiing? But I imagine that case will fail on other grounds.
That said, here are a couple things in this case that should delight objectors and concern applicants if other panelists adopt the same reasoning:
1. GAC advice played a big role.
Reiner quoted much of the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice as if it was already a final determination of the entire community and ICANN’s board.
Reiner seemed to heed the GAC’s concerns about strings that are related to licensed or regulated professions.
That this viewpoint by just one constituent of the ICANN community played such a vital role is surprising. Did he not understand the GAC’s role in ICANN?
2. The definition of likelihood of material detriment.
The UIA argued that use of a .architect domain by anyone that is not a recognized member of a national association that is a member of the UIA could lead to loss of revenue for qualified licensed architects, significant increase in the costs of obtaining insurance on the part of qualified license architects, and risk to public that they may unintentionally hire unauthorized architects.
Today, anyone can register a domain name that includes the term .architect, yet I haven’t heard of widespread fraud from domains such as bobsmitharchitect.com. Will consumers actually think that someone is licensed if they have a .architect domain name?
It’s too early to tell. That probably depends on if similar domains that can be viewed as a profession adopt restrictions.
But it’s clear that panelist Reiner thinks so. He wrote:
Consumers should be entitled to assume that anybody using the generic top-level domain name “.ARCHITECT” is a license architect. I do not see how any other use of the generic top-level domain name “.ARCHITECT” could “promote consumer choice and competition”.
Reiner definitely thinks landscape architects are not worthy of greater choice in domain names.
He also wrote that “The use of the top-level domain “.ARCHITECT” by non-licensed architects is in itself an abuse,” and that waiting to see how the domains were actually used by registrants would cause harm to the community.
“I see no reason why any non-licensed architect should have access to the domain name “.ARCHITECT” in the first place,” he wrote.