A new gTLD applicant has withdrawn two of its Chinese-language applications after failing to secure the necessary government support.
Guangzhou YU Wei Information Technology Co withdrew its applications for .深圳 (.shenzhen) and .广州 (.guangzhou).
Both are the names of very large cities in southern China.
The ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee had previously issued official Advice against both bids.
The applicant had failed to get a passing score on its Initial Evaluation earlier this year, with ICANN ruling that governmental “support or non-objection was either not provided or did not meet the criteria”.
To get a geographic gTLD, you need to prove local government support, something which the applicant seems to have been unable to provide during Extended Evaluation.
Weirdly, Guangzhou YU Wei has previously passed EE for .佛山 (.foshan) and IE for .广东 (.guangdong), which are both also Chinese geographic names.
Verisign today delegated the new gTLD .ruhr to the DNS root zone, making it the 35th new gTLD to go live.
It’s a geographic string, meant for residents of the north-west German region of Ruhr, operated by Regiodot.
nic.ruhr is already resolving.
Regiodot is already taking pre-registrations via approximately 10 signed-up registrars, which all appear to operate in German-speaking countries.
The Ruhr (in German, it’s short for Ruhrgebiet) has over eight million inhabitants, according to Wikipedia, making the potential market for .ruhr larger than many European ccTLDs.
Dot-brand gTLDs could get big exemptions to the standard new gTLD Registry Agreement under new rules published for public comment by ICANN over the weekend.
The proposed changes were negotiated by ICANN and the Brand Registry Group, a coalition of dot-brand applicants that one day plans to become a formal part of ICANN’s policy-making structure.
“The changes will allow trademark owners who have applied for new TLDs to promote and maintain trust in their .Brand registries,” the BRG said in a statement supporting the changes.
Dot-brands would be completely exempt from the standard Code of Conduct, which requires registries to treat all accredited registrars equally.
They’d be explicitly allowed to work with only one trusted registrar.
Given that dot-brands are all essentially single-registrants spaces (limited to the brand owner, its affiliates and trademark licensees) it makes sense to eschew the usual competitive registrar market.
Brand owners were also very worried about ICANN’s right to re-delegate defunct gTLDs, including dot-brands, to new registry operators, which could be seen as extreme brand dilution.
So the proposed RA amendment would also prevent ICANN from redelegating dot-brands for two years after the agreement expires, unless there’s a compelling public-interest reason to do so.
If ICANN chose to redelegate during that period, the former dot-brand would be able to object.
Nothing would stop a third party applying for the vacated gTLD in a subsequent application round.
The changes appear to prevent brand registries from claiming exclusive rights to gTLD strings in perpetuity, while still giving them breathing space to wind down and attempt to avoid brand confusion.
The definition of a “brand” seems to have been written in order to prevent gaming by companies with trademarks on generic strings.
To qualify to become a dot-brand, a registry would have to prove that its gTLD string is a trademark it owns for non-domain industry they’re already playing in. Strings starting with dots would be excluded.
ICANN would determine which gTLDs are eligible, and would be able to revoke the dot-brand status if the registry changed its business plans in future.
The proposal has been negotiated by ICANN legal staff and the BRG and has not yet been approved by the New gTLD Program Committee or the ICANN board.
It’s open for public comment until January 31, here.
FLSmidth, a Danish cement company, has withdrawn its application for the new gTLD .fls.
It’s the first dot-brand to be withdrawn from the program in months.
FLSmidth had passed Initial Evaluation and was not facing any objections or Governmental Advisory Committee advice, so it’s not immediately clear why the company decided to pull out.
The company recently reported a fall in profitability, so perhaps it’s just trying to cut costs by eliminating superfluous expenses.
Top Level Domain Holdings has withdrawn its bid for the .roma gTLD, after apparently running afoul of the Italian government.
The gTLD was to represent the city of Rome, but Italy issued the company with an Early Warning (pdf) a year ago saying the company had “No involvement or support from the local authorities” and should withdraw.
TLDH disputed this, saying in November 2012:
In fact the Company had engaged extensively with the relevant local authority and will provide supporting documentation to the Italian GAC member. Once this evidence has been submitted, the Directors believe that the objection will be withdrawn.
The warning did not escalate to full-blown Governmental Advisory Committee advice, but .roma nevertheless failed Initial Evaluation (pdf) due to the lack of documented government support with its application.
The bid was eligible for Extended Evaluation, but it seems that TLDH was unable to get the required level of support or non-objection from Italy to allow the bid to pass.
It’s the second of TLDH’s applications to get killed off by a GAC member. It withdrew its non-geo application for .spa as soon as Belgium started making noises about its own city of Spa.
The company also ditched plans to apply for .mumbai in 2011 due to confusion about whether the city’s government actually supported it or not.