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IP lobby files last-minute new gTLD demands

Kevin Murphy, March 6, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s ongoing public comment period into the “perceived” need for “defensive” gTLD applications produced a raft of demands 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 DomainIncite PRO 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.

DI PRO subscribers can read the full analysis here.

Stop the nonsense about TLD-squatting

Kevin Murphy, January 19, 2012, Domain Policy

Barely a day has passed recently without a news report about how companies are being forced to apply for new top-level domains to prevent cybersquatters moving in on their brands.

It’s complete nonsense, of course, brought about by a lack of basic research coupled with years of bad feeling towards the domain name industry and an ICANN new gTLDs outreach campaign that spent six months failing to effectively tackle widely held misconceptions.

Cybersquatters are not going to apply for new gTLDs. If they do, they won’t be approved.

Unfortunately, this does not mean that we’re not going to see lots of “defensive” new gTLD applications.

Due to the way the program is structured, it may actually make strategic sense for some companies to apply for a dot-brand gTLD even if they are otherwise pretty clueless about domain names.

It worries me to think that a few years from now the TLD space – which is currently running at almost 100% utilization – will start to resemble the second level in pretty much every major TLD, with lots of essentially unused, redundant defensive domain names.

I don’t think this will be good for the domain name industry or ICANN.

That said, what looks good for ICANN and the domain name industry is of little concern to brand owners – they just want to make sure their brands are not damaged by the program.

I’ve written a 4,500-word paper analyzing the actual need for companies to file “defensive” gTLD applications, which is now available to DomainIncite PRO subscribers.