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Olympics warming to new gTLD bid?

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, 11:00:43 (UTC), Domain Policy

ICANN’s new generic top-level domains Applicant Guidebook may be modified to make it clear that the International Olympic Committee can apply for .olympic if it wants to.

That’s judging by the current state of negotiations in an ICANN working group set up to give special protection to Olympic and Red Cross/Red Crescent trademarks.

Currently, the Guidebook contains a multilingual list of strings related to the Olympic and Red Cross brands that are completely banned from delegation as gTLDs.

But a GNSO working group seems to be rapidly veering towards a recommendation that the ban should be waived if the IOC and Red Cross decide to apply.

The IOC and Red Cross would therefore be able to get their hands on .olympic and .redcross.

Both organizations are closely involved in these talks, which suggests that they may not be entirely hostile to the idea of running their own dot-brand gTLDs after all.

The GNSO working group is also considering the idea that the Olympic and Red Cross trademarks should be protected by string similarity reviews, which is not the case currently.

This could mean, for example, that non-identical gTLDs such as .olympus might have to get IOC backing if they want their applications approved.

The GNSO Council is expected to vote to approve or reject the recommendations at its meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica next month.

It’s not clear whether this would give ICANN enough time to rubber-stamp the decision before the new gTLD application window closes to new applicants March 29.

The decision would not be non-controversial, however. Some ICANN community members are not in favor of granting special trademark protections to anyone.

The GNSO working group has also been tasked by the Governmental Advisory Committee with coming up with second-level protections for the Olympics and Red Cross, but this policy work is unlikely to bear fruit until after the new gTLD application window closes.

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