Scripps Networks, the company that runs the Food Network television network, wants to make .food a dot-brand gTLD that only it can use.
The company has applied to ICANN to have Specification 13 exemptions incorporated into its Registry Agreement.
Spec 13 is an add-on to the RA that dot-brands use to exempt themselves from having to sell to the public via the registrar channel, offer sunrise periods, and so on.
Scripps subsidiary Lifestyle Domains won the .food contention set after an auction with Donuts and Dot Food LLC a couple months ago.
It’s one of the applications that was identified by the Governmental Advisory Committee as a “closed generic”. Such applications were subsequently banned by ICANN.
Scripps and dozens of other applicants were given the option to change their applications to remove the single-registrant policy, to withdraw, or to carry their applications over to the next round.
But Scripps is pressing ahead regardless, claiming that if anyone else is allowed to own .food domains, all kinds of horrible things will happen. It recently told ICANN:
Internet users will benefit more from Scripps operating .FOOD because it will provide more trusted experiences. Left open to the wild west of typosquatters and cybersquatters or fraudulent users, internet users will be harmed rather than helped. With a plethora of unregulated websites in a fully open registry, the public could be misled or confused as to the origin of the content and information and rely, to their detriment, on such content.
It more recently told ICANN that it has no intention of modifying its application to comply with the GAC advice. ICANN now considers the matter “resolved”.
What’s not resolved is whether .food qualifies for Spec 13 status.
To use Spec 13, the gTLD needs to match a trademark you own, but it cannot be also be a generic string, defined as:
a string consisting of a word or term that denominates or describes a general class of goods, services, groups, organizations or things, as opposed to distinguishing a specific brand of goods, services, groups, organizations or things from those of others.
ICANN lawyers will make the ultimate decision about whether .food qualifies for Spec 13, but the request is open for public comment until October 29.
ICANN told DI: “ICANN has not yet made a determination as to if the application qualifies for Specification 13 and welcomes any comments from the community.”
What do you think? Should something as clearly generic as “food” be a space where only one company can register names?