Purpose (Brief): To receive stakeholder views and suggestions on the topic of “closed generic” gTLD applications.
Current Status: Existing provisions of the New gTLD Program do not provide specific guidance on this issue. Potential new provisions may be considered based on the comment provided and analysis undertaken.
Next Steps: ICANN staff will review comments submitted and will provide a summary and analysis of these comments to the New gTLD Program Committee of the Board of Directors. The Committee will review this feedback as well as the additional research and analysis directed to inform its consideration on this issue.
Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose
ICANN is seeking public comment on the subject of “closed generic” gTLD applications and whether specific requirements should be adopted corresponding to this type of application. Stakeholder views are invited to help define and consider this issue. In particular, comments would be helpful in regard to proposed objective criteria for:
classifying certain applications as “closed generic” TLDs, i.e., how to determine whether a string is generic, and
determining the circumstances under which a particular TLD operator should be permitted to adopt “open” or “closed” registration policies.
The New gTLD Program Committee of the ICANN Board of Directors has discussed this issue and has also directed completion of a set of focused research and analysis items to inform any possible action to be taken. At its 2 February 2013 meeting, the Committee passed the following resolution:
Whereas, the New gTLD Program Committee has received correspondence from the community addressing “closed generic” TLDs and understands that members of the community term a “closed generic” TLD as a TLD string that is a generic term and is proposed to be operated by a participant exclusively for its own benefit.
Whereas, ICANN implemented the Generic Names Supporting Organization (GNSO) policy recommendations on the “Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains”, and within those policy recommendations there is no specific policy regarding “closed generic” top-level domains (TLDs).
Whereas, members of the community have expressed concerns regarding applications for “closed generic” TLDs.
Whereas, the New gTLD Program Committee considers that it is important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to ‘closed generic’ TLDs.
Resolved (2013.02.02.NG01), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to open a 30-day public comment forum on this topic, which should include a call for identification of proposed objective criteria to classify applied-for TLDs as “closed generic” TLDs.
Resolved (2013.02.02.NG02), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to, concurrently with the opening of the public comment forum, request the GNSO to provide guidance on the issue of “closed generic” TLDs if the GNSO wishes to provide such guidance. Guidance on this issue is requested to be provided by the close of the public comment forum.
Resolved (2013.02.02.NG03), the New gTLD Program Committee directs the President and CEO to:
- Summarize and analyze all comments submitted in the public comment forum.
- Review materials supporting the policy development process resulting in the GNSO policy recommendations on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains and provide analysis of any discussions relating to the limitations on potential new gTLDs.
- Analyze the feasibility of objectively classifying applied for TLDs as “closed generic” TLDs.
- Provide an analysis as to whether the public interest and principles of international law are served by adopting a clear approach regarding ‘closed generic’ gTLDs.
- Provide a report to the New gTLD Program Committee informed by the comments received and analysis conducted, including alternatives to addressing this issue.
Section II: Background
Following the publication of the gTLD applications in June 2012, concerns have been brought to ICANN’s attention regarding some applications for strings which are labelled as “closed generic.” These applications are considered problematic by some due to the proposed use of the TLD by the applicant, e.g., using the TLD in a manner that is seen as inappropriately exclusive, particularly in the sense of creating a competitive advantage. These applications have been the subject of public comments and Early Warnings.
Many of the communications link the issue of registration restrictions for a TLD with the Code of Conduct (Specification 9 to the gTLD Registry Agreement). However, it should be clarified that the Code of Conduct refers to registry-registrar interactions, rather than eligibility for registering names in the TLD. Rather than the Code of Conduct, the true issue of concern being expressed appears to be that in certain applications, the proposed registration policies are deemed inappropriate by some parties.
The New gTLD Program has been built based on policy advice developed in the GNSO’s policy development process. The policy advice did not contain guidance on how ICANN should place restrictions on applicants’ proposed registration policies, and no such restrictions were included in the Applicant Guidebook.
Defining a “generic” category of strings is a complex undertaking as strings may have many meanings and have implications for several languages. However, there are mechanisms built into the program (e.g., objection processes, GAC processes) as a means for concerns about specific applications to be considered and resolved as they arise.
Recent correspondence has expressed concerns about the potential impact on competition and consumer choice, as well as phrasing the issue in terms of potential impact on the public interest. The New gTLD Program Committee considers it important to understand all views and potential ramifications relating to “closed generic” TLDs.
Section III: Document and Resource Links
- List of gTLD applications received
- Letter from Michele Neylon, et al. [PDF, 56 KB]
- Letter from Kathryn Kleiman [PDF, 1.43 MB]
- Toronto Public Forum:
- GAC Early Warnings
- Letter from Michele Neylon, et al. [PDF, 362 KB]
- Letter from Microsoft Corporation [PDF, 267 KB]
Comment Open: 5 February 2013
Comment Close: 7 March 2013
Close Time (UTC): 23:59 Public Comment Announcement
Reply Open: To Submit Your Comments (Forum)
Reply Close: View Comments Submitted
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