Two companies called Merck have separately failed ICANN Community Priority Evaluations, meaning the new gTLD .merck could be the first dot-brand to head to ICANN auction.
Merck KGaA applied for .merck for the Merck Group, a German chemicals company founded — staggeringly — in 1668, the same year Newton built the world’s first reflecting telescope.
Merck Registry Holdings Inc applied for the same string on behalf of Merck & Co, which was originally the US subsidiary of the German outfit. The US firm was seized by the US government and subsequently became independent during World War I.
Despite the substantial pedigrees of these multi-billion dollar businesses, neither were able to muster up the required 14/16 points to be considered a “Community” under ICANN CPE standards.
The German firm scored 11 points, the American 9.
The main failing in both evaluations, which were conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, was the existence of the other.
Both applicants defined their communities as their own companies and lost points because “.merck” did not uniquely identify all legitimate users of the string.
Both panels marked the applications down for “over-reaching substantially beyond the community” by not including the rival company in its community definition.
The US company also lost a couple of points for failing to come up with a list of registration restrictions.
As neither company has passed CPE, the next step of the ICANN process would have them attempt to resolve the contention set privately. Failing that, they would go to an ICANN last-resort auction.
Another possibility, an increasingly favored choice among CPE losers, would be an interminable series of ICANN process appeals and lawsuits.