ICANN and Employ Media are set to sign a new contract for operation of the .jobs registry which is based heavily on the Registry Agreement signed by all new gTLD registries.
.jobs was delegated in 2005 and its first 10-year RA is due for renewal in May 2015.
Because Employ Media, like all gTLD registries, has a presumption of renewal clause in its contract, ICANN has published the proposed new version of its RA for public comment.
It’s basically the new gTLD RA, albeit substantially modified to reflect the fact that .jobs is a “Sponsored TLD” — slightly different to a “Community” TLD under the current rules — and because .jobs has been around for nine years already.
That means it won’t have to sign a contract forcing it to run Sunrise or Trademark Claims periods, for example. It won’t have to come up with a Continued Operations Instrument — a financial arrangement to cover operating costs should the company go under — either.
Its commitments to its sponsor community remain, however.
ICANN said it conducted a compliance audit on Employ Media before agreeing to the renewal.
Employ Media remains the only gTLD registry to have been hit by a formal breach notice by ICANN Compliance. In 2011, it threatened to terminate its contract over a controversial proposal to all job aggregation sites to run on .jobs domains.
The fight came about as a result of complaints from the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, a group of jobs sites including Monster.com.
Employ Media has killed off the Chinese-language gTLD .招聘 in the latest batch of new gTLD objection results.
Amazon and DotKids Foundation’s respective applications for .kids also appear to be heading into a contention set with Google’s bid for .kid, following the first String Confusion Objections.
All three objections were marked as “Closed, Default” by objection handler the International Center For Dispute Resolution a few days ago. No full decisions were published.
This suggests that the objectors have won all three cases on technicalities (such as the applicant failing to file a response).
Employ Media vice president for policy Ray Fassett confirmed to DI that the company has prevailed in its objection against .招聘, which means “recruitment” in Chinese and would have competed with .jobs.
The String Confusion Objection can be filed based on similarity of meaning, not just visual similarity.
What’s more, if the objector is an existing TLD registry like Employ Media, the only remedy is for the losing applicant to have their application rejected by ICANN.
So Hu Yi Global Information Resources, the .招聘 applicant, appears to be finished as far as this round of the new gTLD program is concerned.
But because there’s no actual ICDR decision on the merits of the case, it seems possible that it, or another company, could try for the same string in a future round.
In Google’s case, it had objected to both the Amazon and DotKids applications for .kids on string confusion grounds. The company is applying for .kid, which is obviously very similar.
The String Similarity Panel, which created the original pre-objection contention sets, decided that singular and plurals could co-exist without confusion. Not everyone agreed.
Because .kid is merely an application, not an existing TLD, none of the bids are rejected. Instead, they all join the same contention set and will have to work out their differences some other way.
Applicants are under no obligation to fight objections; they may even want to be placed in a contention set.
Three already-live TLDs are going to use the Trademark Clearinghouse to handle sunrise periods, possibly before the first new gTLDs launch.
BRS Media is set to use the TMCH, albeit indirectly, in its launch of third-level domains under .radio.am and .radio.fm, which it plans to launch soon as a budget alternative to .am and .fm.
The company has hired TM.Biz, the trademark validation firm affiliated with EnCirca, to handle its sunrise, and TM.biz says it will allow brand owners to leverage Clearinghouse records.
Trademark owners will be able to submit raw trademarks for validation as in previous sunrises, but TM.Biz will also allow them to submit Signed Mark Data (SMD) files, if they have them, instead.
Encrypted SMD files are created by the TMCH after validation, so the trademarks and the strings they represent are pre-validated.
There’ll presumably be some cost benefit of using SMD files, but pricing has not yet been disclosed.
Separately, Employ Media said today that it’s getting ready to enter the final stage of its .jobs liberalization, opening up the gTLD to essentially any string and essentially any registrant.
The company will also use the TMCH for its sunrise period, according to an ICANN press release, though the full details and timing have not yet been announced.
Unusually, .jobs is a gTLD that hasn’t already had a sunrise — its original business model only allowed vetted company-name registrations.
The TMCH is already accepting submissions from trademark owners, but it’s not yet integrated with registries and registrars.
ICANN has withdrawn its breach notice against .jobs registry Employ Media, opening the floodgates for third-party job listings services in the gTLD.
In a letter sent to the company earlier this week, ICANN seems to imply that it was wrong when it threatened in February 2011 to shut down .jobs for breaking the terms of its registry agreement:
ICANN has concluded that Employ Media is not currently in breach, but is instead in good standing under the Registry Agreement, with respect to the issues raised in the 27 February 2011 Notice of Breach letter.
ICANN will not seek to impose restrictions on new or existing policy initiatives within .JOBS as long as such conduct is consistent with the .JOBS Charter and the terms of the Registry Agreement.
The surprising move presumably means that Employ Media will be dropping its Independent Review Panel proceeding against ICANN, which was due to start in-person hearings next month.
The original breach notice alleged that the registry had gone too far when it sold thousands of generic domain names to the DirectEmployers Association to use for jobs listings sites.
The project was criticized harshly by the .JOBS Charter Compliance Coalition, an ad hoc group of jobs sites including Monster.com, which lobbied ICANN to enforce the .jobs contract.
The .jobs gTLD was originally supposed to be for companies to advertise only their own job openings.
The reasoning behind ICANN’s change of heart now is a little fuzzy.
Ostensibly, it’s because it received a letter December 3 from the Society for Human Resources Management, Employ Media’s policy-setting “sponsoring organization”.
The letter states that all of DirectEmployers’ domain names are perfectly okay registrations — “being used consistently with the terms of the .JOBS Charter” — and have been since the .Jobs Universe project started.
The domain names were all registered by DirectEmployers executive William Warren, who is a SHRM member as required by .jobs policy, the letter states.
Nothing seems to have changed here — it’s been Employ Media and SHRM’s position all along that the registrations were legit.
So did ICANN merely sense defeat in the IRP case and get cold feet?
Read the letters here.
Tucows has started offering .jobs and .aero domain names through its OpenSRS reseller channel.
According to a blog posting, resellers will have to opt in to offering these gTLDs. Prices are $125/year for .jobs and $50/year for .aero.
It’s potentially good news for both registries, particularly .jobs. Both are restricted, sponsored gTLDs, but .jobs has a much less strict set of entry requirements than .aero.
The OpenSRS network has about 11,000 resellers, according to the company, which is largely responsible for Tucows being the third-largest ICANN-accredited registrar by domain volume.