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L’Oreal shows cards on former “closed generic” gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, August 3, 2016, 08:40:35 (UTC), Domain Registries

Want to register a .beauty or .makeup domain name? L’Oreal will get to decide unilaterally whether “you’re worth it”.

The cosmetics maker has released the registration policies for its first former “closed generic” gTLD, .makeup, and they’re among the most restrictive in the industry.

Free speech appears to be the first victim of the policy — “gripe sites” are explicitly banned in the same breath as cybersquatting, 419 scams and the sale of counterfeit goods.

Domain investors and those who would hide their identity behind Whois privacy services appear to be unwelcome, too.

But perhaps most significantly, L’Oreal has also given itself the right to decide, in its sole discretion, whether a would-be registrant is eligible to own a .makeup domain.

Its launch policy reads:

Registrant Eligibility Requirements

To support the mission and purpose of the TLD, in order to register or renew a domain name in the TLD, Applicants must (as determined by the Registry in its sole and exclusive right):

  • Own, be connected to, employed by, associated with, or affiliated with a company that provides makeup and/or cosmetics related products, services, news, and/or content; or (ii) be an individual, association, or entity that has a meaningful nexus (as determined by the Registry in its sole discretion) with the cosmetics industry; and
  • Possess a bona fide intention to use the domain name in supporting the mission and purpose of the TLD.

Would-be registrants have to submit an “application” for the domain they want, and L’Oreal gets to decide whether to approve it or not.

Whether L’Oreal chooses to apply liberal or conservative standards here remains to be seen.

Like most new gTLD registries, the company plans to reserve many domains for the use of itself, partners, or future release.

The policies also give L’Oreal broad discretion to suspend or terminate names it decides violate the terms of the registration policy, which it says it can amend and retroactively apply at any time.

Using the domain counter to the mission statement of the gTLD is a violation. The mission statement reads:

The mission and purpose of the TLD is first and foremost to promote the beauty, makeup and cosmetics segments, through meaningful engagement with manufacturers, beauty enthusiasts, consumers, and retailers, using a domain space intended for use by individuals and/or companies within or associated with the various industries that provide, utilize, or bear a recognizable connection to makeup and cosmetic products and/or services.

L’Oreal has defined gripe sites — sites established primarily to criticize — as a security and stability concern that “may put the security of any Registrant or user at risk”, banning

other abusive behaviors that appear to threaten the stability, integrity or security of the TLD or any of its registrar partners and/or that may put the security of any Registrant or user at risk, including but not limited to: cybersquatting, sale and advertising of illegal or counterfeit goods, front-running, gripe sites, deceptive and⁄or offensive domain names, fake renewal notices, cross gTLD registration scams, traffic diversion, false affiliation, domain kiting⁄tasting, fast-flux, 419 scams.

If you want to set up a .makeup web site to criticize, say, L’Oreal for “body shaming” or for its animal testing policy, lots of luck to you.

The gTLD is owned by L’Oreal but seems to be being managed primarily by its application consultant, Fairwinds Partners.

It was originally designated as a single-registrant space, a so-called “closed generic” or “exclusive access” gTLD, in which only L’Oreal could register names.

But the company was forced to change its plans, under pain of losing its application, after the Governmental Advisory Committee persuaded ICANN to perform a U-turn on the permissibility of closed generics.

.makeup is due to start accepting pre-launch requests for Founders Program domains next Monday. General availability will start October 19.

Sunrise will kick off September 8, though L’Oreal warns that it has withheld generic terms such as “shop” from this period.

The company also owns .beauty, and I expect its terms there to be similar.

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Comments (11)

  1. Richard Funden says:

    The eligibility requirements sound like a knock-out criterium to me. No competitor will want to announce to L’Oreal new product names, campaigns, etc in advance of launching them.

  2. David Roman says:

    Literally LOL on this article. This is the problem with the gTLD program. The philosophy of extending generic terms for open or semi restricted registration is fine in theory, but then these large companies swoop in with special interests and wreck the space.

    The only redeeming quality in this is that gTLDs are destined to fail, specifically the so-called .brands and these extremely restricted gTLDs. No one will spend the money and jump through hoops just to own a gimmick.

    Not to mention that Fairwinds partners seems like such a joke. I feel like they’re behind alot of these stupid gTLDs and policies.

  3. As unsurprising as it is objectionable … and irremediable.

    My gut feeling – which may be wrong and which has always been irrelevant – is that ICANN ought never to have permitted generic keyword TLDs to become any rich player’s exclusive territory.

    The name space is a kind of digital commons; and, while it’s inevitable that particular 2LDs will be owned by this or that entity with this or that particular agenda, I very much like the fact that most TLD name spaces are open to all comers, that a poor individual can lay claim to a good name and deny it to a larger company that may wish to buy it.

    What we normally see in 2LD and 3LD name spaces is diversity of ownership and opinion. Free speech, in other words. Yet diversity is something that ICANN has ensured won’t appear in restricted name spaces like .BEAUTY.

    Cosmetics may be relatively trivial. But there’s real potential for abuse here. Exclusive ownership means the right to exclude others, and the consequences of exclusion can be quite offensive.

    .PERSIANGULF was purchased as a for the sake of geopolitical posturing – so that Iran could antagonize its neighbors. .BIBLE, meanwhile, polices theology and bars certain religious groups (who themselves claim to be christian) from participation.

    By assigning TLDs in this way, ICANN could be construed as officially sanctioning limited and divisive viewpoints and to be selling off an abstract form of public property to well funded private interests.

  4. Christopher Ambler says:

    What I find very ironic is that in the round of 2000, ICANN was apoplectic about any suggestion that a new TLD would be anything other than 100% open, base cheap registration fee, and no concessions to registries.

    No premium names. No extended pricing. No auctions or early-release programs. No limits on who could register (please, they said, save that for a sponsored round).

    Our original .Web application had us as the sole registrar for the first year to recoup costs (at the base registration fee). ICANN threw a fit and said remove that or the application would be rejected out of hand.

    Now you’ve got this, and it’s all perfectly okay.

    The list of such changes is a novel in length.

    • Richard Funden says:

      How would you have been unable to recoup costs if working through a registrar network?

      That setup you describe goes against anything ICANN was set up for. They had just broken up the .com monopoly and now someone proposed to bring that monopoly back for .web? No wonder you were rejected…

    • Jordyn Buchanan says:

      This is just nonsense.

      In the 2000 round, .PRO was restricted to certified professionals–specifically doctors, lawyers and accountants. .MUSEUM was limited to…you guessed it…museums, .COOP to co-ops, .AERO to organizations related to Aerospace.

      .PRO proposed high pricing bundled with professional verification and a digital certificate. I don’t believe the prices for the other restricted TLDs were particularly low either. .MUSEUM proposed a set of “disincentive charges” to discourages repetitive access to scarce resources. Various proposals included land rush periods as well.

      [These words are mine alone and do not represent my employer’s views.]

      • Christopher Ambler says:

        Yes, and then what happened with .PRO a few years later?

        Exactly.

        • Jordyn A Buchanan says:

          The business model changed voluntarily (.PRO proposed this–ICANN didn’t require them to do so).

          Even if you disregard .PRO, half of the remaining 2000 round TLDs had restricted business models. Your original assertion is just flat out wrong.

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