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Olympics warming to new gTLD bid?

Kevin Murphy, February 23, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s new generic top-level domains Applicant Guidebook may be modified to make it clear that the International Olympic Committee can apply for .olympic if it wants to.

That’s judging by the current state of negotiations in an ICANN working group set up to give special protection to Olympic and Red Cross/Red Crescent trademarks.

Currently, the Guidebook contains a multilingual list of strings related to the Olympic and Red Cross brands that are completely banned from delegation as gTLDs.

But a GNSO working group seems to be rapidly veering towards a recommendation that the ban should be waived if the IOC and Red Cross decide to apply.

The IOC and Red Cross would therefore be able to get their hands on .olympic and .redcross.

Both organizations are closely involved in these talks, which suggests that they may not be entirely hostile to the idea of running their own dot-brand gTLDs after all.

The GNSO working group is also considering the idea that the Olympic and Red Cross trademarks should be protected by string similarity reviews, which is not the case currently.

This could mean, for example, that non-identical gTLDs such as .olympus might have to get IOC backing if they want their applications approved.

The GNSO Council is expected to vote to approve or reject the recommendations at its meeting in San Jose, Costa Rica next month.

It’s not clear whether this would give ICANN enough time to rubber-stamp the decision before the new gTLD application window closes to new applicants March 29.

The decision would not be non-controversial, however. Some ICANN community members are not in favor of granting special trademark protections to anyone.

The GNSO working group has also been tasked by the Governmental Advisory Committee with coming up with second-level protections for the Olympics and Red Cross, but this policy work is unlikely to bear fruit until after the new gTLD application window closes.

Governments back Olympic domain bans

Kevin Murphy, May 13, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee has called for a ban on domain names containing terms relating to the Red Cross and Olympics movements.

Both organizations have for some time been calling for their trademarks to be added to the list of specially reserved strings that nobody will be able to register under new top-level domains.

The GAC “strongly supports” these demands.

In a piece of uncharacteristically straightforward advice (expect much more of this in the wake of the .xxx decision), GAC chair Heather Dryden wrote to ICANN:

The GAC advises the ICANN Board to approve these requests and to direct staff to reflect the Board’s approval in the May 30, 2011 version of the Applicant Guidebook.

It’s special pleading, of course, but there’s plenty of precedent for the Olympics, Red Cross and Red Crescent being given special protection under national laws, as Dryden notes in her letter.

I’d guess that this is a bone ICANN may be willing to throw, given that it has more important unresolved issues still to discuss with the GAC, some of which could delay the new gTLD program.

The Applicant Guidebook’s current list of reserved names includes the names of ICANN and related organizations, several terms used in networking, and country names.

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