Four new gTLD applications have been withdrawn so far this week, including the first to come from .info operator Afilias.
Afilias has pulled its bid for .mail — the second applicant to do so — due to the number of competitors for the string.
A spokesperson said in an email:
The company felt there were simply too many groups in contention for this domain and we’d rather focus our energy supporting and helping to grow the .POST domain, for which we are the [technical services provider].
There are now five applicants competing for the string, including Google, Amazon and Donuts, but they’re all facing objections from the United States Postal Service and the Universal Postal Union, which runs .post.
Elsewhere this week, Directi has ended its bid for .movie, a contention set with seven other bidders.
The company declined to comment on the reasons for the withdrawal, so we probably can’t entirely rule out some kind of partnership with one or more other applicants.
Today we’ve also seen the withdrawal of applications for .ltd and .inc, both belonging to a Dutch company called C.V. TLDcare. I don’t know much about these guys, other than it used OpenRegistry as its technical partner and that .inc and .ltd were its only two applications.
Interesting fact: not a single “corporate identifier” application (.llp, .corp, .ltd, .inc, .llc) has passed Initial Evaluation yet, but seven applications have been withdrawn.
It’s a controversial category, with many US state attorneys general very unhappy about any of these strings being delegated without safeguards.
The latest four withdrawals bring the total to 63.
The International Organization for Standardization, known as ISO, doesn’t want to have its acronym blocked in new gTLDs by the International Sugar Organization.
ISO has told ICANN in a letter that demands for special favors coming from intergovernmental organizations, via the Governmental Advisory Committee, should be rejected.
Secretary general Rob Steele wrote:
We have very strong concerns with the GAC proposal, and firmly oppose any such block of the acronym “ISO.”
To implement a block on the term “ISO” (requiring its release be permitted by the International Sugar Organization) disregards the longstanding rights and important mission of the International Organization for Standardization. To be frank, this would be unacceptable.
please be assured that the International Organization for Standardization is prepared to take all necessary steps if its well-known short name is blocked on behalf of another organization.
For several months the GAC has argued that IGOs are “objectively different category to other rights holders, warranting special protection from ICANN” in new gTLDs.
Just like the “unique” Olympics and Red Cross were in 2011.
The GAC proposes that that any IGO that qualifies for a .int address (it’s a number in the hundreds) should have its name and acronym blocked by default at the second level in every new gTLD.
But ICANN pointed that this would be unfair on the hundreds (thousands?) of other legitimate uses of those acronyms. It gave several examples.
The GAC in response said that the IGOs would be able to grant consent for their acronyms to be unblocked for use by others, but this opened up a whole other can of implementation worms (as the GAC is wont to do).
ICANN director Chris Disspain of AuDA said in Beijing:
Who at each IGO would make a decision about providing consent? How long would each IGO have to provide consent? Would no reply be equivalent to consent? What criteria would be used to decide whether to give consent or not? Who would draft that criteria? Would the criteria be consistent across all IGOs or would consent simply be granted at the whim of an IGO?
In the GAC’s Beijing communique, it seemed to acknowledge this problem. It said:
The GAC is mindful of outstanding implementation issues and commits to actively working with IGOs, the Board, and ICANN Staff to find a workable and timely way forward.
The GAC insists, however, that no new gTLDs should be allowed to launch until the IGO protections are in place.
Given the amount of other work created for ICANN by the Beijing communique, I suspect that the IGO discussions will focus on implementation detail, rather than the principle.
But the principle is important. IGOs are not typically victims of pernicious cybersquatting. If they deserve special protections, then why don’t trademark owners that are cybersquatted on a daily basis?
ISO standardizes all kinds of stuff in dozens of sectors. In the domain name space, it’s probably best known for providing ICANN with ISO 3166-1 alpha-2, the authoritative list of two-letter strings that may be delegated as ccTLDs.
The International Sugar Organization is very important too, probably, if you’re in the sugar business.
Does it need better brand protection than Microsoft or Marriott or Facebook or Fox? Is anyone going to want to cybersquat the International Sugar Organization, really?
If it does deserve that extra layer of protection, should that right trump the more-famous ISO’s right to register domains matching its own brand?
The companies handling Uniform Rapid Suspension domain name disputes will be bound to a contract, ICANN has said.
In a follow-up Q&A document (pdf) from the public forum session at the ICANN meeting in Beijing last month, posted Friday, ICANN said:
As regards Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) providers, will there be a contract developed that goes beyond the non-enforceable memorandum of understanding? Will there be other URS providers?
Yes, a contract is being developed and additional URS providers will be added.
That appears to be new information.
Domainers, and the Internet Commerce Association, which represents domainers, have long pressed for UDRP providers and, more recently, URS providers, to be bound by contracts.
The ICA, for example, has often said that no new UDRP providers should be approved until there’s a contractual way for ICANN to prevent mismanagement of disputes and “forum shopping”.
Soon, it seems, at least URS providers will have some contractual coverage.
The National Arbitration Forum and the Asian Domain Name Dispute Resolution Centre have already been approved as URS providers.
One of the only two companies to receive formal, consensus, kiss-of-death Governmental Advisory Committee advice last month has called on ICANN to reject it as “untimely”.
GCCIX WLL of Bahrain applied for .gcc to be an open gTLD for residents of the Persian/Arabian Gulf region.
It was a ballsy application. The intended meaning of the string was Gulf Cooperation Council — the six-state regional political union — but the applicant by its own admission had no support from local governments or the GCC itself.
It would be a little like applying for .eu, to represent Europe, with no support from the European Union.
Naturally enough, local governments balked. GCCIX received an Early Warning signed by Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, followed by a legal rights objection from the GCC itself.
And in Beijing, the GAC said by consensus that the application for .gcc should be rejected.
The only other application that received the same level of advice was DotConnectAfrica’s equally unsupported application for .africa which, unlike .gcc, ICANN recognizes as “geographic”.
Now, GCCIX CEO Fahad AlShirawi has written to ICANN to ask it to reject the GAC’s advice and let the legal rights objection process play out before making a decision.
Of note, AlShirawi points out that the GAC advice was received in April, a month later than the deadline outlined in the new gTLD program’s Applicant Guidebook.
ICANN should therefore reject the GAC advice as “untimely”, he wrote.
That’s not going to happen, of course.
The GAC is allowed to provide advice to ICANN at any time, no matter what the Guidebook says. If ICANN were to ignore it based on timing, it may as well sign its own death sentence at the same time.
Top Level Domain Holdings is the latest portfolio applicant to slate the Governmental Advisory Committee’s advice on new gTLDs, calling it “troubling in principle” and “terrifying in practice”.
The company, which applied directly for 70 gTLDs and is involved in several others, filed its comments on the “safeguard advice” in the GAC’s Beijing communique with ICANN today.
The comments focus mainly on the overarching issues of governmental power and process, rather than delve into the nitty-gritty implementation problems presented by the advice.
TLDH CEO Antony Van Couvering wrote:
The Communiqué’s prescriptions define the opposite of a well-regulated sector. Instead of a clear process in which all concerns are weighed, the Communiqué sets up an ad-hoc GAC process from which the views of applicants are excluded.
Instead of clear rules to which industry players must adhere, ill-defined categories have been set up that applicants have a hard time even to understand.
Instead of a clear authority on who will determine policy, the ICANN community must now wonder who is in charge.
The comment points to the fact that the GAC’s 2007 principles on new gTLDs state that applicants should have a clear, objective process to follow, and that Beijing undermines that principle.
It also puts forth the view that the GAC appears to be trying to create policy unilaterally, and in a top-down manner that doesn’t give the Generic Names Supporting Organization a role.
The GAC Beijing Communiqué as enunciated in Section IV.1.b [the safeguard advice] unilaterally expands the role of the GAC from an advisory committee, with a remit of providing advice on policy originating in the GNSO, into a policy-making body from which other members of the ICANN community are excluded.
TLDH also notes that some parts of the advice are “not in themselves bad ideas” and that the company has offered to adopt some of them already in the Public Interest Commitments appended to its applications.
It comments follow those from rival Demand Media, which questioned the feasibility of implementing the GAC’s advice, last week.
Separately, over the weekend, Medicus Mundi International Network — an organization of healthcare non-governmental organizations — filed comments saying that the GAC advice does not go far enough.
Rather, it said, ICANN should delay the introduction of .health until a “broad-based consultation of the health community” can be carried out and a “multi-stakeholder” governance model for it created.