The International Olympic Committee, fresh from its big win at ICANN Singapore, is pushing for more special protections in the new top-level domains program.
ICANN only approved the new gTLD program last month with the proviso that Olympic and Red Cross strings – .redcross and .olympic for example – would be banned as gTLDs in the first round.
The decision was a pretty obvious piece of political bone-throwing to the Governmental Advisory Committee, which had backed the IOC’s cause.
Now the IOC wants to ensure ICANN will ban .olympic and .olympiad in eight additional languages, including four non-Latin scripts, as well as “confusingly similar” strings such as .olympics.
I expect ICANN will probably grant this concession, even though the idea that somebody other than the IOC could successfully apply for .olympics under existing rules has always been ludicrous.
The IOC has probably already spent just as much money lobbying for these changes as it would have cost to file a slam-dunk legal rights objection, as already allowed by the Guidebook.
And that would only have been necessary, of course, in the vanishingly improbable scenario where somebody was stupid enough to pay $185,000 to apply for .olympics in the first place.
But the IOC now also wants all of its brands banned at the second level in all new gTLDs. This seems like a bigger ask, given that ICANN resolved to protect the Olympic marks “for the top level only”.
In a July 1 letter to ICANN (pdf), published today, an IOC lawyer includes suggested text for the Applicant Guidebook, to be included in the default registry agreement, stating:
In recognition of legislative and treaty protection for the Olympic designations, the labels “OLYMPIC” and “OLYMPIAD” shall be initially reserved at the second level. The reservation of an Olympic designation label string shall be released to the extent Registry Operator reaches agreement with the International Olympic Committee.
This would give the Olympic brand as much protection as country names at the second level.
The problem with this, of course, is that it sets the precedent for a specially protected marks list, which ICANN has resisted and which the GAC specifically has not asked for.
It’s a problem ICANN has arguably brought on itself, of course, given that it already specially protects “icann”, “iana” and a number of other strings on spurious technical stability grounds.