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No sunrise periods for dot-brands

Kevin Murphy, March 31, 2014, 07:24:21 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN has finally signed off on a set of exemptions that would allow dot-brand gTLDs to skip sunrise periods and, probably, work only with hand-picked registrars.

Its board’s New gTLD Program Committee passed a resolution at ICANN 49 last week that would add a new Specification 13 (pdf) to Registry Agreements signed by dot-brands.

The new spec removes the obligation operate a sunrise period, which is unnecessary for a gTLD that will only have a single registrant. It also lets dot-brands opt out of treating all registrars equally.

Dot-brands would still have to integrate with the Trademark Clearinghouse and would still have to operate Trademark Claims periods — if a dot-brand registers a competitor’s name in its own gTLD during the first 90 days post-launch, the competitor will find out about it.

ICANN is also proposing to add another clause to Spec 13 related to registrar exclusivity, but has decided to delay the addition for 45 days while it gets advice from the GNSO on whether it’s consistent with policy.

That clause states that the dot-brand registry may choose to “designate no more than three ICANN accredited registrars at any point in time to serve as the exclusive registrar(s) for the TLD.”

This is to avoid the silly situation where a dot-brand is obliged to integrate with registrars from which it has no intention of buying any domain names.

Spec 13 also provides for a two-year cooling off period after a dot-brand ceases operations, during which ICANN will not delegate the same string to another registry unless there’s a public interest need to do so.

The specification contains lots of language designed to prevent a registry gaming the system to pass off a generic string as a brand.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to pass off a trademark alone, without a business to back it up, as a brand. Neither is there a way to pass off a descriptive generic term as a brand.

The rules seem to allow Apple to have .apple as a dot-brand, because Apple doesn’t sell apples, but would not allow a trousers company to have .trousers as a dot-brand.

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Comments (6)

  1. Marc McCutcheon says:

    Doesn’t the exemption from 1b. of the code of conduct mean that .brand TLD registries can forgo using a Registrar entirely?

  2. Phil Buckingham says:

    Why would a closed dot brand need/ want three ICANN accredited registrars at any point in time . Surely one hand picked / acquired will be enough to allow it to have its own ICANN accredited registrar to control , manage, vertically integrate ( and visa versa). After all their registrations have NO general availability (GA) or selling implication.

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      Maybe if a lot of affiliates need to register names?

      • Phil Buckingham says:

        Kevin , thanks . Get it now ! These “closed brands” can only register up to 50000 though before they would have to submit a change request ( with a different business model for evaluation ) and would become an open TLD – with sunrise , landrush and GA . Right ???

        • Kevin Murphy says:

          That’s not what I meant, no. I just suggested that if a dot-brand wanted to register a bunch of names internally and also wanted to let its affiliates register there may be some benefit in splitting the task between two registrars. Just thinking out loud.

          I don’t recognize any of what you’re saying about 50,000 names.

          • Rubens Kuhl says:

            The agreement allows for business models to change after contracting, so registries only need to file RSEPs (change requests only apply to non-contracted registries) if changing registration policies or technical characteristics.

            It’s up to ICANN to process thin registration data and/or registry reports and/or zone files, realize that the number of domains is more than what is covered by the SLOC, and ask for a replacement letter.

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