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Aussie government slams .food closed generic bid

Kevin Murphy, October 30, 2015, 11:57:59 (UTC), Domain Policy

The Australian government is among those asking ICANN deny a request to make .food a “closed generic” gTLD.

Eight people have filed comments opposing Lifestyle Domain’s application for Specification 13 status for its .food registry contract, which would allow the company to keep all .food domains for itself, since we reported the news earlier this month.

The Aussies are arguably the highest-profile opponent, and the one most likely to be taken seriously by ICANN.

Governmental Advisory Committee rep Annaliese Williams wrote:

The Australian Government issued an Early Warning to Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc on the grounds that ‘food’ is a common generic term, and that restricting common generic strings, such as .food, for the exclusive use of a single entity could have a negative impact on competition…

The Australian Government does not consider that Lifestyle Domain Holdings’ application to operate .food for its exclusive use serves a public interest goal.

Lifestyle Domain is a subsidiary of Scripps Networks, the company that runs the Food Network TV stations and Food.com web site.

The company claims that it has trademark rights to the word “food” that should allow it to run .food as a dot-brand gTLD.

That would mean nobody but Scripps, which won the right to .food at auction, would be able to register .food domains.

ICANN has also received negative comments from employees of registrars (both retail and corporate) and registries.

One comment, taken at face value, appears to be pro-Scripps, but I’m fairly confident it’s actually just extreme sarcasm.

The decision about whether to allow Scripps to add Spec 13 to its contract will be made by ICANN legal staff.

ICANN told me this week that there’s no ETA on a decision yet.

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Comments (4)

  1. “restricting common generic strings, such as .food, for the exclusive use of a single entity could have a negative impact on competition”…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEQDllvuy1I

  2. Kevin M. says:

    To follow the logic here, shouldn’t “apple” and similar “common generic term[s]” also be open? If “food” is being used to describe a television network and its related programming, is it generic?

    • Kevin Murphy says:

      I follow your logic. If the gTLD’s contents were going to be about television, then I’d probably agree that it’s the same as .apple.

      But the .food application states “The goal of .food is to provide high quality, authentic programming, information and online experiences for individuals interested in cooking, recipes, restaurants, food, home life, entertaining, and other related concepts, topics and activities.”

      The same applicant owns .foodnetwork, which is clearly a brand.

      • Kevin says:

        True, but it’s a very grey area. I suppose .food is analogous to .play and .drive, which were denied Spec 13, but granted a CoC Exemption – not because they were necessarily generic, but because Google does not own a TM registration in those strings alone (that I could find). Right or wrong, Scripps does hold a TM registration for “food” alone (associated with television programming, etc.). So, notwithstanding what the application states, if they assert in their Spec 13 application they will use it in line with the services/goods described in the supporting TM application (as required by Spec 13), and assuming you take the position that just because a string could serve a broad public purpose does not mean it must be reserved for such purpose (again, see .apple), then they seemingly meet the express requirements of Spec 13 and should be granted status as a “.Brand TLD”.

        In any event, that’s a lot of words for a TLD that will be granted a CoC Exemption even if its Spec 13 application fails, because, ultimately, Spec 13 offers very little value over that of an exemption alone.

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