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Told you so? Four new gTLDs given geographic surprise, others given a pass

Kevin Murphy, March 7, 2013, 09:13:37 (UTC), Domain Policy

Four new gTLD applications have been told by ICANN the strings they wanted are geographic and will require government backing if they want to be approved.
One of the affected applicants is Tata, the $100bn Indian conglomerate.
During a webinar this week, ICANN reported the results of its new gTLD program’s Geographic Names Panel, which decides whether applicants need the support of governments or not.
Six applicants that had designated their applied-for string as geographic were ruled to be actually non-geographic. Three applicants that said they weren’t geographic were ruled to be, in fact, geographic.
And four strings DI had previously said were likely to be ruled geographic, actually received a pass.
These are the applications that have been told they’re geographic:

  • .bar — This was applied for by two applicants (one of which was a Demand Media subsidiary) as a TLD for drinking establishments. But “Bar” is also a commune of Montenegro, so it’s been deemed a geographic string by ICANN.
  • .tata — This is a dot-brand applied for by Tata Group, the 150-year-old, $100bn-a-year Indian conglomerate. But “Tata” is also a province of Morocco.
  • .tui — Applied for by TUI AG as a dot-brand, the string is also a province of Burkina Faso.

Geographic gTLDs can only be approved with the formal support or non-objection of the relevant governments.
All three of these strings were highlighted in the DI PRO database as potentially problematic geographic gTLDs over a year ago, well before the new gTLD application window closed.
I even reported for The Register in January 2012 that .tata was going to have problems.
According to ICANN’s Application Guidebook, any string that matches something on the various International Standards Organization’s lists of geographic names will be deemed geographic for new gTLD approval purposes.
But we got it wrong on some counts.
For example, we wondered whether the seven applications for .store were going to be ruled geographic, on the basis that Štore (note the accent) is a municipality of Slovenia.
Also, .delta, .est and .capital match regions of Nigeria, Burkina Faso and Denmark and all appear on the same protected ISO 3166 list as .tata, .tui and .bar, but do not appear to have been ruled geographic.
ICANN has not published the rationale behind its panel’s decisions yet.
A further six applied-for gTLD strings that had been designated geographic by their applicants were ruled to be not, in fact, geographic.
These all appear to be abbreviations of place names, or place names that do not appear on protected lists: .frl, .ist, .ryukyu, .scot, .vegas and .zulu.
There’s no real harm to applicants that find themselves in this position.

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Comments (1)

  1. Rubens Kuhl says:

    There are at least 4 names that could still be classified or unclassified as GEOs, so more might be coming. Or not.
    About .bar, one of the applicants got it right from the beginning and applied as GEO… so they now have an advantage with the geo authority by saying they have recognised that authority from the start.

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