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ICANN reveals gTLD objections appeals process

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2014, Domain Policy

Two new gTLD applicants would get the opportunity to formally appeal String Confusion Objection decisions that went against them, under plans laid out by ICANN today.

DERCars and United TLD (Rightside), which lost SCOs for their .cars and .cam applications respectively, would be the only parties able to appeal “inconsistent” objection rulings.

DERCars was told that its .cars was too similar to Google’s .car, forcing the two bids into a contention set. But Google lost similar SCO cases against two other .cars applicants.

Likewise, Rightside’s .cam application was killed off by a Verisign SCO that stated .cam and .com were too similar, despite two other .cam applicants prevailing in virtually identical cases.

Now ICANN plans to give both losing applicants the right to appeal these decisions to a three-person panel of “Last Resort” operated by the International Centre for Dispute Resolution.

ICDR was the body overseeing the original SCO process too.

Notably, ICANN’s new plan would not give Verisign and Google the right to appeal the two .cars/.cam cases they lost.

Only the applicant for the application that was objected to in the underlying SCO and lost (“Losing Applicant”) would have the option of whether to have the Expert Determination from that SCO reviewed.

There seems to be a presumption by ICANN already that what you might call the “minority” decision — ie, the one decision that disagreed with the other two — was the inconsistent one.

I wonder if that’s fair on Verisign.

Verisign lost two .cam SCO cases but won one, and only the one it won is open for appeal. But the two cases it lost were both decided by the same ICDR panelist, Murray Lorne Smith, on the same grounds. The decisions on .cam were really more 50-50 than they look.

According to the ICANN plan, there are two ways an appeal could go: the panel could decide that the original ruling should be reversed, or not. The standard of the review is:

Could the Expert Panel have reasonably come to the decision reached on the underlying SCO through an appropriate application of the standard of review as set forth in the Applicant Guidebook and procedural rules?

The appeals panelists would basically be asked to decide whether the original panelists are competent or not.

If the rulings were not reversed, the inconsistency would remain in place, making the contention sets for .car, .cars and .cam stay rather confusing.

ICANN said it would pay the appeals panel’s costs.

The plan (pdf) is now open for public comment.

EU guns for ICANN’s relationship with US

Kevin Murphy, February 12, 2014, Domain Policy

The European Union has made ICANN’s close relationship with the US one of the targets of a new platform on internet governance.

In a new communication on internet governance (pdf), the European Commission said it will “work with all stakeholders” to:

- identify how to globalise the IANA functions, whilst safeguarding the continued stability and security of the domain-name system;

– establish a clear timeline for the globalisation of ICANN, including its Affirmation of Commitments.

The policy is being characterized as being prompted by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about widespread US spying on internet users.

EC vice president Neelie Kroes issued a press release announcing the policy, saying:

Recent revelations of large-scale surveillance have called into question the stewardship of the US when it comes to Internet Governance. So given the US-centric model of Internet Governance currently in place, it is necessary to broker a smooth transition to a more global model while at the same time protecting the underlying values of open multi-stakeholder governance of the Internet.

Despite this, the document does not contain any allegations that link ICANN to spying, or indeed any justification for the logical leap from Snowden to domain names.

The EU position is not dissimilar to ICANN’s own. Last October CEO Fadi Chehade used Snowden as an excuse to talk about putting ICANN’s relationship with the US back in the spotlight.

As I noted at the time, it all looks very opportunistic.

Internationalizing ICANN is of course a noble objective — and one that has been envisaged since ICANN’s very creation 15 years ago — but what would it look like it practice?

I’d be very surprised if what the Commission has in mind isn’t a scenario in which the Commission always gets what it wants, even if other stakeholders disagree with it.

Right now, the Commission is demanding that ICANN rejects applications for .wine and .vin new gTLDs unless applicants agree to new rights protection mechanisms for geographic indicators such as “Champagne”.

That’s something that ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee could not reach consensus on, yet the EU wants ICANN to act based on its unilateral (insofar as the EU could be seen as a single entity) advice.

The new EC policy document makes lots of noise about its support for the “multi-stakeholder process”, but with hints that it might not be the “multi-equal-stakeholder process” championed by Chehade.

For example, it states on the one hand:

Those responsible for an inclusive process must make a reasonable effort to reach out to all parties impacted by a given topic, and offer fair and affordable opportunities to participate and contribute to all key stages of decision making, while avoiding capture of the process by any dominant stakeholder or vested interests.

That sounds fair enough, but the document immediately goes on to state:

the fact that a process is claimed to be multistakeholder does not per se guarantee outcomes that are widely seen to be legitimate

it should be recognised that different stages of decision making processes each have their own requirements and may involve different sets of stakeholders.

Sound multistakeholder processes remain essential for the future governance of the Internet. At the same time, they should not affect the ability of public authorities, deriving their powers and legitimacy from democratic processes, to fulfil their public policy responsibilities where those are compatible with universal human rights. This includes their right to intervene with regulation where required.

With that in mind, what would an “internationalized” IANA look like, if the European Commission gets its way?

Right now, IANA may be contractually tethered to the US Department of Commerce, but in practice Commerce has never refused to delegate a TLD (even when Kroes asked it to delay .xxx).

Compare that to Kroes statement last September that “under no circumstance can we agree having .wine and .vin on the internet, without sufficient safeguards”.

Today’s policy news from the EC looks fine at a high level, but in light of what the EC actually seems to want to achieve in practical terms, it looks more like an attempt at a power grab.

Delegation wait time varies wildly for new gTLDs

Kevin Murphy, February 11, 2014, Domain Registries

New gTLDs get delegated on average 70 days after they sign their ICANN Registry Agreement, but the duration of the wait varies quite a lot by registry, according to DI research.

For the 145 delegated new gTLDs I looked at, the delegation has come 39 to 151 days after contract signing.

After signing an RA, registries have to enter into Pre-Delegation Testing before their strings are handed off to IANA, Verisign and the US Department of Commerce for delegation.

The Applicant Guidebook states that this transition to delegation phase is expected to take approximately two months. On average, ICANN seems to be only slightly missing that target.

The differing wait times could be attributed to any number of reasons. Difficulties during PDT, registry choice, geography and holidays could all see some take longer than others.

Donuts, which is responsible for almost two thirds of the gTLDs I looked at, seems to have refined the process to an art, getting its gTLDs delegated on average 62 days after contract signing.

There are currently 125 gTLDs that have contracts but have not yet been delegated, according to our records.

Here’s the table of delegation wait times, for those interested.

TLDRegistryContractDelegationDays
reviewsRightside2013-09-132014-02-11151
futbolRightside2013-09-202014-02-11144
xn--6frz82gAfilias2013-09-232014-02-06136
kimAfilias2013-09-232014-01-23122
xn--fiq228c5hsTLD Registry2013-09-082014-01-03117
xn--3ds443gTLD Registry2013-09-082014-01-02116
wedAtgron2013-10-012014-01-23114
xn--3bst00mEagle Horizon Limited2013-09-132014-01-03112
xn--6qq986b3xlTycoon Treasure2013-09-132014-01-03112
monashMonash University2013-09-302014-01-18110
pinkAfilias2013-10-012014-01-18109
kiwiDot Kiwi2013-09-202014-01-03105
onlI-REGISTRY2013-09-162013-12-29104
xn--ngbc5azdInternational Domain Registry2013-07-132013-10-23102
xn--80aswgCORE Association2013-07-142013-10-23101
xn--80asehdbCORE Association2013-07-142013-10-23101
xn--unup4yDonuts2013-07-142013-10-23101
nagoyaGMO Registry2013-10-242014-01-2997
xn--fiq64bCITC2013-10-152014-01-1895
luxuryDot Luxury2013-10-172014-01-1893
giftUniregistry2013-10-172014-01-1893
blueAfilias2013-11-072014-02-0590
unoDot Latin2013-09-112013-12-0282
danceRightside2013-10-242014-01-1482
democratRightside2013-10-242014-01-1482
menuWedding TLD22013-09-112013-12-0282
estateDonuts2013-08-272013-11-1479
bikeDonuts2013-08-272013-11-1378
buzzDotStrategy2013-10-022013-12-1978
tokyoGMO Registry2013-11-132014-01-2977
votingValuetainment2013-11-132014-01-2977
shoesDonuts2013-10-022013-12-1776
careersDonuts2013-10-022013-12-1776
tattooUniregistry2013-08-302013-11-1476
coffeeDonuts2013-10-172013-12-2973
redAfilias2013-11-072014-01-1872
xn--q9jyb4cGoogle2013-09-172013-11-2872
buildPlan Bee2013-11-072014-01-1872
club.CLUB Domains2013-11-082014-01-1871
cameraDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
venturesDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
equipmentDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
singlesDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
holdingsDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
lightingDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
guruDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
voyageDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
clothingDonuts2013-08-272013-11-0671
wangZodiac Leo2013-10-242014-01-0371
bargainsDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
boutiqueDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
coolDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
tiendaDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
watchDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
worksDonuts2013-11-142014-01-2370
ruhrregiodot2013-10-022013-12-1170
berlindotBERLIN2013-10-312014-01-0869
marketingDonuts2013-11-072014-01-1468
cardsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
condosDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
foundationDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
maisonDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
partsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
productionsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
villasDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
visionDonuts2013-12-052014-02-1168
modaRightside2013-11-072014-01-1468
socialRightside2013-11-072014-01-1468
wienpunkt.wien2013-10-282014-01-0367
shikshaAfilias2013-11-142014-01-1865
xn--io0a7iCNNIC2013-11-142014-01-1865
xn--55qx5dCNNIC2013-11-142014-01-1865
contractorsDonuts2013-09-102013-11-1465
landDonuts2013-09-102013-11-1465
plumbingDonuts2013-09-102013-11-1465
guitarsUniregistry2013-11-142014-01-1865
linkUniregistry2013-11-142014-01-1865
photoUniregistry2013-11-142014-01-1865
picsUniregistry2013-11-142014-01-1865
sexyUniregistry2013-09-112013-11-1464
emailDonuts2013-10-312014-01-0263
expertDonuts2013-11-212014-01-2363
toolsDonuts2013-11-212014-01-2363
technologyDonuts2013-09-132013-11-1462
graphicsDonuts2013-09-132013-11-1462
galleryDonuts2013-09-132013-11-1462
richI-REGISTRY2013-11-172014-01-1862
domainsDonuts2013-10-172013-12-1761
limoDonuts2013-10-172013-12-1761
photosDonuts2013-10-172013-12-1761
recipesDonuts2013-10-172013-12-1761
viajesDonuts2013-10-172013-12-1761
zoneDonuts2013-11-142014-01-1461
agencyDonuts2013-11-142014-01-1461
cheapDonuts2013-11-142014-01-1461
cateringDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
eventsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
cruisesDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
cleaningDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
exposedDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
flightsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
partnersDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
propertiesDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
rentalsDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
reportDonuts2013-12-052014-02-0461
tipsDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
directoryDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
kitchenDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
todayDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
enterprisesDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
photographyDonuts2013-09-202013-11-1960
codesDonuts2013-10-312013-12-2959
constructionDonuts2013-09-162013-11-1459
diamondsDonuts2013-09-222013-11-1958
supportDonuts2013-10-242013-12-1956
immobilienRightside2013-11-072014-01-0256
immobilienRightside2013-11-072014-01-0256
computerDonuts2013-10-242013-12-1754
cabDonuts2013-10-242013-12-1754
ceoCEOTLD2013-11-072013-12-2952
trainingDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
buildersDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
educationDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
floristDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
farmDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
glassDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
houseDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
holidayDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
internationalDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
instituteDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
solarDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
repairDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
solutionsDonuts2013-11-072013-12-2952
kaufenRightside2013-11-072013-12-2952
ninjaRightside2013-11-072013-12-2952
communityDonuts2013-12-052014-01-2551
datingDonuts2013-12-052014-01-2551
campDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
companyDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
managementDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
systemsDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
academyDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
centerDonuts2013-11-072013-12-1740
xn--zfr164bCONAC2013-11-082013-12-1739
xn--55qw42gCONAC2013-11-082013-12-1739

.photography beating .camera

Kevin Murphy, February 10, 2014, Domain Registries

Who said shorter domains are more popular?

Donuts’ new .photography and .camera gTLDs, which both come out of their Early Access Period premium pricing phases this week, have seen .photography get more than twice as many registrations so far.

During their EAP and sunrise periods, where retail prices can range from $150 to $13,000, .camera has racked up 146 names to .photography’s 383.

There’s a difference of meaning here of course, which is reflected in the types of domains being registered; .camera names tend to be hardware-related, while .photography is heavy with personal names.

Donuts’ strategy of picking strings that already feature heavily at the end of the second level of .com seems to be reflecting the reality of registration patterns in new gTLDs too.

The photography-related gTLD space is going to an interesting one to watch.

We’re also waiting for the launch of .photo and .photos (.photos in two weeks, .photo in April), which will crowd the space further. These two are also likely to be the first plural/singular competitors.

Conflicting gTLD objection decisions to get appeals process?

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2014, Domain Policy

ICANN seems to be considering an appeals process for new gTLD applicants that feel they’ve been wronged by dubious String Confusion Objection decisions.

But the process might be limited to applicants for .car, .cars and .cam.

In a resolution this Wednesday, ICANN’s New gTLD Program Committee said:

the NGPC is considering potential paths forward to address the perceived inconsistent Expert Determinations from the New gTLD Program String Confusion Objections process, including implementing a review mechanism. The review will be limited to the String Confusion Objection Expert Determinations for .CAR/.CARS and .CAM/.COM.

Why only those strings? I’m guessing it’s because the conflicting decisions would make for extremely confusing contention sets.

There were three SCOs against .cars applications, filed by Google, which has applied for .car. Google won one case but lost the other two.

That would mean that Google’s .car application would be in contention with one of the applicants but not the other two, hardly a fair outcome.

Similarly, Verisign objected to five .cam applications due to their similarity to .com. It won one and lost the other four.

The NGPC resolution calls for the publication, for comment, of a reviews process designed to untangle this mess. It does not appear to have been published yet.

But it seems that whatever ICANN has come up with will not apply to other applicants who feel they’ve been wronged by odd SCO, or other objection, decisions.