What the .olympic ban means for new gTLDs in Costa Rica

Kevin Murphy
March 5, 2012
Analysis

While the last ICANN public meeting in Dakar last October was notable for a heated clash between governments and the domain name industry, the Costa Rica meeting next week may be characterized by these two recent enemies uniting against a common enemy: ICANN.

Members of the Generic Names Supporting Organization, the Governmental Advisory Committee and the At-Large Advisory Committee all appear to be equally livid about a last-minute new gTLD program surprise sprung by ICANN late last week.

The hitch relates to the ongoing saga about special brand protection for the International Olympic Committee, Red Cross and Red Crescent movements in the new gTLD program.

The need to develop rights protection mechanisms for essentially just three organizations has always been a slightly ridiculous and unnecessary premise, but recently it has assumed symbolic proportions, cutting to the heart of the multistakeholder model itself.

Now, following a perplexing eleventh-hour ICANN mandate, Costa Rica is likely to see some fierce debate about ICANN’s decision to kick off the new gTLD program last June.

We expect the GNSO and the GAC to show a relatively united front against ICANN staff on the IOC/RC issue. The At-Large Advisory Committee is also set to throw a bomb or two.

There’s even an outside chance that upcoming talks could wind up adding delay to the next phase of the new gTLD program itself.

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Trademark lobby files last-minute new gTLD demands

Kevin Murphy
March 4, 2012
Analysis

ICANN’s ongoing public comment period into the “perceived” need for “defensive” gTLD applications produced a raft of demands, recommendations and suggestions from the intellectual property community, not all of which relate to the subject matter at hand.

With less than one month left before ICANN closes its new gTLD application window, many IP stakeholders have suggested ways to reduce the need to file a defensive applications, with many disputing its characterization as “perceived”. As far as many brands are concerned, there’s nothing “perceived” about it.

Give the imminent closure of the window, a large number of commenters have also suggested ways to reduce the need for defensive domain name registrations at the second level. While debates about trademark protection in domain names will never end, this is likely to be the IP community’s last chance to officially comment before April 12.

Some comments expressed a desire for relatively small tweaks to the existing Rights Protection Mechanisms, others said that entirely new RPMs should be created. In most cases, the proposed amendments heavily favor certain trademark owners at the expense of other registrants, including other trademark owners.

Some suggestions from the IP community would, if adopted, directly impact the business models of new gTLD registries and registrars. Others could be expected to significantly increase the risk that the new gTLD application process will be gamed at a large scale.

This analysis is organized by issue, addressing concepts that emerged from multiple comments. In each case, we look at the likely counter-arguments to the proposals, explore the potential impact on applicants and the new gTLD program and assess the likelihood of each proposal becoming reality.

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Building a sustainable gTLD with premium domain names

Nora Nanayakkara & Kevin Murphy
February 18, 2012
Analysis

Growing a successful, sustainable gTLD is made a lot easier by a good start. How an extension is launched and the design of premium domain name allocation mechanisms have a knock-on, long-term effect on domain values, end-user adoption and consumer trust.

The launch phase is critical for any gTLD. Executed successfully, registries can expect a windfall from Sunrise, Landrush and premium domain name allocations, offsetting their initial capital expenditures. But the launch period also sets the tone for the gTLD over the long term. Registries trying to create sustainable long-term businesses need to think about brand-building and recurring revenue just as much as cashing in on launch hype.

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Defensive gTLD applications: fact and fiction

Kevin Murphy
January 18, 2012
Analysis, Getting Started

The word “defensive” is a loaded term in the world of domain name registration, used to suggest a threat of trademark infringement by malicious registrants. Today the word is frequently misused in the context of ICANN’s new generic top-level domains program, leading to misunderstandings among nervous brand owners. This article attempts to cut through the fear-mongering to discuss both why defensive gTLD applications usually will not be necessary, as well as addressing the true risks that may lead brand owners to consider such an application.

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Five thousand strings that could get your gTLD application rejected

Kevin Murphy
January 8, 2012
Analysis, Resources

If an applied-for gTLD string is rejected by ICANN for any reason, the entire application fails. There are no opportunities to rectify the problem. This article analyzes a wide variety of scenarios in which strings can be rejected and provides a downloadable spreadsheet of over 5,000 specific banned strings — including brands, abbreviations and generic terms — that could cause an application to fall at the first hurdle.

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