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A Move Almost Designed to Kill Off Competition

"I'm writing to express my concern about the proposed introduction of the closed generic gTLDs — in particular the .cloud domain and the application by Amazon to be the domain registrar.

"This action is antithetical to the whole notion of the open Internet and is a proposal that does nothing to enhance the free market in a growing area of technology. I find it hard to think of many actions that are so detrimental to the emergence of competition in the cloud market. It cannot be good for the industry and for users to have a domain administered by a single player in the marketplace, it's a move almost designed to kill off competition."

Max Cooter. Cloud Pro

Mar 05: Closed Generic gTLDs

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Request to ICANN to Reconsider Granting Monopoly Control

"We already see that global technological giants can act both ways: they can strongly benefit to availability of books but they can also put unnecessary limits to this availability and create obstacles that are not easy to overcome. Therefore we would like to ask ICANN Board of Directors to reconsider their intention to grant monopoly control of a TLD to a single member of book industry or any other entity. We think that such step can create an unfair competitive advantage for the industry that is already challenged by needs to incorporate all technological inventions in their businesses.

"In the case of a closed generic TLD like .books,  the exclusivity granted to the winning applicant would de facto strengthen the position of a single  big operator in the book industry and would  be detrimental to the book  industry as a whole."

Inara Belinkaja. For Latvian Booksellers Association, Latvian Book Guild & Latvian Publishers Association


A Precedent Harmful to Small Businesses

"Generic words can not and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company and a closed generic domain is not in the public interest, quite the contrary it will be anticompetitive as it could give any company with a closed status an unfair advantage in website navigation.

"Closed use of '.security' is not similar to the way '.com,' '.net' and '.org' are used on the Internet daily, a closed '.security' TLD would be very harmful to those of us in the security industry and set a precedent that would be harmful to small businesses everywhere."

Dave Stevenson. Tek Systems Group

Mar 05: [no subject]

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Undermining International Trademark Law

"While I recognize that the technology might have improved to the point that we can have many more TLDs than before, allowing single entities to control a generic class of stuff like services or products seems very ill advised to me.

"Essentially they then get control of a given brand, like 'books', which would be internationally recognized. But such generic brands aren’t allowed in international trademark law.

"With domain names you can give trademark control on a technical level, but that must not give more generic names than general trademark law allows.

"A domain name is already a broader control than the one given by trademark law...

"Having even broader control would create legal uncertainty and undermine international trademark law."

Arne Babenhauserheide

Mar 06: no trademark, no private ownership

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Consumer Watchdog: Generic Words Should Belong to All People

"What really concerns Consumer Watchdog are blatant attempts by such companies as Google and Amazon to buy control of huge swathes of the Internet by purchasing truly generic Top Level Domains and operating them as closed domains for their own use.

"We believe the plans by Google and Amazon are extremely problematic. You should either deny their applications or at a minimum require the generic TLDs to be opened to all with a clear interest in the term. It is one thing to use a Top Level Domain name that is associated with your brand name. In Google's case that might be .Google or .YouTube or .Android. Similarly it makes sense for Amazon to acquire .Amazon or .Kindle. But, that is not, as we understand it, what they are seeking.

"Generic words used in a generic way should belong to all people. However, if you allow individual registry operators like Google and Amazon to segregate and close-off common words for which they do not possess intellectual property rights and that are not associated with brand names you will allow them to circumvent nation-states' entrenched legal processes for obtaining legitimate and recognized trademark protections.

"If these applications are granted and operated on a closed basis, large parts of the Internet would be privatized and become walled gardens... (which) would threaten the free and open Internet that consumers rely upon.

"We are skeptical that such powerful companies would operate generic TLDs in a fair way and think it best if such Internet giants were denied any control of generic TLDs..."

John M. Simpson. Consumer Watchdog

(Consumer Watchdog is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and advocating on behalf of consumers for over 25 years - Ed.)

Mar 07: Consumer Watchdog: Keep Generic TLDs Open For All

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Amazon's Exclusive Ownership of .book Would Not Serve The Public Interest

"It is ANZAAB's position that commercially significant generic terms such as .book should not be controlled by a single corporate entity... Amazon exclusively owning such top level domains (as .book, .author, and .read) would confer an unfair advantage in the marketplace. The operation of such domains as closed is anti-competitive and does not serve the public interest."

Sally Burdon. Australian and New Zealand Association of Antiquarian Booksellers

Apr 01: Comment on Amazon's bid for generic Top Level Domains

Indy Music Labels Object to Possible Exclusion of Music Community

"First as members of the music community we want to ensure that the music-themed TLD is operated in the best interests of the legitimate music community and not auctioned off in a bidding process. Only an all-inclusive, multi-stakeholder community-based application should be selected to operate a music-themed TLD representing the music community with the knowledge and understanding of the music business and music community operating in a manner that respects and protects musical Intellectual Property and ensuring that there is only legitimate distribution of music...

"Second we write to request that ICANN not accept any bids from TLD applicants who have music-themed TLD applications that have a likelihood of creating material detriment to the rights or legitimate interests of the music community. Concerns include:

• Monopoly issues and registration policies that exclude significant portions of the music community from participating or registering their name(s) under the music-themed TLD..."

American Association of Independent Music A2IM

PLUS multiple submissions from representatives of the global independent music label community including:

Win For Music WIN
Association of Independent Music AIM
Independent Music Companies Association IMPALA... etc etc

(A2IM represents over 300 labels - Ed.)

Mar 07: ICANN selection process related to gTLD Applications for music-themed TLDs

Unreservedly object to .Cloud becoming a closed registry

"We... unanimously and unreservedly object to .Cloud becoming a closed registry. We believe this is a generic term and that all organisations and/or communities that have an association with the Cloud (be this technologies, software, services, social networks etc.) should be allowed to use this TLD.

"We do support the reasonable compromise that has been put forward to allow some generic terms to be registered as Restricted, Community and/or Closed TLDs (as in the examples given below).

"(i) Restricted TLDs (e.g., .bank being restricted to verified banking institutions),.."

Sanjeev Shah, Unit 4 Business Software

Feb 28: Objection to a Closed Registry for .cloud

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Closed gTLDs "Completely Counter" to ICANN's Stated Mission

"...The Generic Names Supporting Organization stated that a key benefit to introducing new top-level domains was that these domains had the potential to 'promote competition in the provision of registry services, to add consumer choice, [and] market differentiation...'

"However, offering closed generic gTLDs would run completely counter to all of those goals.

", for example, stated in its gTLD application that the .book registry would remain its property and that the company would 'strictly control' the use of .book domains.

"Clearly, closed gTLDs are at odds with the potential benefits of market differentiation, consumer choice, and fostering competition..."

Oren Teicher. American Booksellers Association

(The American Booksellers Association is the national, not-for-profit trade association for independent bookstores - Ed.)

Mar 13: American Booksellers Association Comment on Closed Generic gTLDs

Scandalous... Expect Uproar!

"I understand that there are suggestions that the .cloud TLD may be a closed one, enabling a major commercial organisation such as Amazon or Symantec to own it outright.

"Frankly, that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard if true.

"Given the wide and diverse marketplace for cloud service providers, the concept of allowing any single organisation to own it outright would be scandalous and anti-competitive... the idea of them inhibiting smaller providers from using their own brands with a .cloud suffix would be completely wrong and I’m sure would open ICANN up to some serious public examination and criticism.

"I trust you will see sense in this matter; if you don’t, expect uproar!"

Andrew Brenson

(Andrew is an Independent NGO Consultant and Former Head of IT at Save the Children UK - Ed.)

Mar 06: Dot Cloud must not be a closed TLD

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ICANN Closed Registries Forum (3)



NOTE — ICANN changed the comment links in March. They're fixed now, but if you find an incorrect link, go to the forum link above and search by the date & title following each one.

Michelin Warns of Anticompetitive Consequences and Limited Consumer Choice

"The Internet is with no doubt one of the major channels of sales, from information to the selection of a tire dealer, and this although the sale of tires requires mounting in a garage. According to the website Modern Tire Dealer, online retail sales in the US would reach $200 billion in 2012 and $279 billion in 2015... Running attractive and efficient websites built on easy to remember domain names are a key to access a good SEO ranking on search engines.

1. These generic terms refer to a business category
"Some of these generic terms are necessary for the exercise of an activity and should not be reserved for, or monopolized by a single stakeholder in a business category...

"The delegation of a generic term matching an economic sector to one single player could lead to establishing a monopoly by excluding the direct and indirect competitors.

2. The Applicants are looking for a monopoly
"Some of the applicants for these generic terms have chosen to reserve the name spaces for themselves rather than offering registrations to everyone. These applicants seek to operate them in a completely closed manner and to capture the exclusive use of these generic terms for their own business... and prevent others from registering domain names within such string.

3. A similar application in the brick and mortar world would be denied
"Trademark regulations including the Lanham Trademark Act or the EU Directive 2008/95/EC forbid the registration of trademarks which consist exclusively of signs or indications which have become customary in the current language or in the bona fide and established practices of the trade. If the Applicants were to file a TIRES trademark registration, it would be refused for lack of distinctiveness...

4. A typical example of Closed Generic TLD Applications

"Among the companies that are trying to obtain a monopoly on a generic term representing or closely linked to their own economic sector, major tire manufacturer applied for the generic term TIRES:

— application # 1-2123-56973 for TIRES by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC;

— application # 1-1884-1217 for TIRES by The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

"Both applicants are major stakeholder of the tire industry... and have organized their applications on a closed registry model.

5. A risk increased by the terms of the Revised Registry Agreement

"In connection with the operation of the registry for the TLD, in principle, the Registry Operator must not register domain names in its own right. As an exception, closed applications for generic TLDs can be filed in application of the Registry Operator Code of Conduct... which provides: Registry Operator may request an exemption to this Code of Conduct, and such exemption may be granted by ICANN in ICANN's reasonable discretion, if Registry Operator demonstrates to ICANN's reasonable satisfaction that (i) all domain name registrations in the TLD are registered to, and maintained by, Registry Operator for its own exclusive use,.. and (iii) application of this Code of Conduct to the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.

"Although public interest was not defined by ICANN, could an application seeking exclusive access to a common generic string that relates to a market sector be consistent with the protection of public interest?

6. Monopoly situations are detrimental to consumer.

"The main risk of delegating of theses TLDs under the rules requested by the applicants is the capture of the whole tire online sales channel by one of these two operators. This would surely have anticompetitive consequences and limit consumer choice across the Internet:

— competitors will be prevented from using those generic TLDs to compete with the string owner;

— consumers will have access to offers coming from one single player, which means that they will be captive of one single tire manufacturer."

Nathalie Dreyfus. Dreyfus & associés, for Michelin

(Michelin has 115,000 employees. Despite having been established in 1889, ie. long prior to the Internet itself, ICANN will deny Michelin access to .tires domains if either Bridgestone or Goodyear is granted closed ownership of the .tires registry - Ed.)

Mar 06: Michelin comment on Closed Generic TLDs

USPS Objects to being Prohibited from Owning the Domain: Priority.mail

"...The (United States) Postal Service notes that a closed registry model is particularly inappropriate and contrary to the Public Interest in connection with this specific applied-for string (dot.MAIL). The term, 'mail' designates services rendered... which are highly regulated and charged with an inherent governmental function. The security and stability of global international mail depends upon the trusted services provided by these entities and on open access to Top Level Domains where the public using mail services can readily reach the entity it views as providing these trusted services. In relation to the mailing public in the United States, the term 'mail' by itself is a designator of services provided by the United States Postal Service.

"The Postal Service also notes that the operation of a (dot)mail registry in a closed manner would potentially restrict its rights and interests in the following ways:

(1) the USPS would not be able to obtain a Sunrise Registration for terms which are otherwise eligible... For example, the Postal Service owns a longstanding registration for Priority Mail®, but would not be able to secure a second level registration for www.prioritymail.mail...

(2) UDRP* remedies would be restricted. For example, in connection with the USPS registration for Priority Mail®, if a (dot)mail closed registry launches and a third party that is an approved business partner of the closed registry (as provided for in one of the (dot)mail closed applications) obtains a registration for www.priority.mail... in bad faith, the USPS, even if able to prove all the necessary elements in a UDRP proceeding, would not be able to obtain the transfer of the infringing domain without qualifying as an 'approved business partner' of the registry owner.

"In light of these considerations and in response to the call for Public Comment, the United States Postal Service strongly encourages ICANN to reject any application proposing to operate the (dot)mail registry in a closed manner."

Anne Aikman-Scalese, for United States Postal Service

(*UDRP refers to: Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy, a method rightful domain owners may retrieve names from cybersquatters - Ed.)

Mar 07: United States Postal Service Comments - "Closed Generics"

Closed Generic TLDs Will Become Uniquely Associated With The Products

"We are writing to express concern that ICANN may issue gTLDs where applicants can control access to such domains in closed or highly-restricted fashion. Our concern is consistent with ICANN’s stated goal of “enhancing competition and consumer choice” with the introduction of new gTLDs. (cited) Contrary to this goal, issuance of those gTLDs to applicants intending to control them as closed registries threatens to severely hamper competition and consumer choice, particularly where applicants seek gTLDs for generic terms in industries where they hold market share.

"As representatives of the video game industry, we find two current applications particularly troubling. Amazon EU and Beijing GameaseAge Digital Technology Co., Ltd. have submitted applications for issuance of the generic .game domain, and stated their intent to administer the domain in closed or restricted fashion. (cited)

"If either of these applications is granted, no one other than the applicant and its chosen designees will be able to register second-level domain names in the .game TLD, leaving the applicant free to exclude competitors and exploit the generic .game TLD for its sole benefit. The owner of the .game registry will:

• be positioned to gain unfair advantage in direct navigation and online search;
• become uniquely associated with the category of products it offers through its association with the relevant domain;
• be able to prevent substantially similar TLDs such as .games or .gamer in the future; and
• likely obtain a perpetual monopoly in the .game online space since the ICANN registry agreements permit unlimited automatic renewals.

"This combination of market advantages from control of the .game gTLD will create steep barriers to entry for others in the game industry, and will ultimately harm the interests of consumers in the computer and video game market."

Christian Genetski. Entertainment Software Association
David Sweeney. Interactive Software Federation of Europe
Jayson Hilchie. Entertainment Software Association of Canada
Ron Curry. Interactive Games and Entertainment Association

(These four large game associations whose releases account for a majority of the game software sold in most countries made a joint submission - Ed.)

Mar 07: ESA, ESAC, ISFE and iGEA Comment on .GAME Closed Generic TLDs

Generic Words Cannot be Monopolized At Law

"Indigo recently became aware that applications have been filed for generic top-level domains ('gTLDs') that comprise important terms for the book industry, and that are intended for use on a restricted or closed basis by the applicant. Like many companies, Indigo was generally aware of the proposed launch of new gTLDs, but was unaware and caught by surprise by the fact that applications could apparently be filed for closed gTLDs covering commonly used and purely descriptive industry terms. Prior to learning about these applications, it was our understanding that only gTLDs covering brand names could be operated on a closed basis.

"We are writing to express our concern about, in particular, Amazon's applications for the closed gTLD strings .book, .author and .read. The use of these descriptive terms is of obvious and paramount importance to all stakeholders in the book industry in all English-speaking countries.

"To Indigo's direct knowledge, Amazon is a key competitor and a dominant online retailer of books and eReading devices. Indigo strongly believes that competition will suffer if Amazon is granted the right to operate closed gTLDs... In fact, it is difficult to conceive of terms that more clearly describe books and eReading devices, and how they would be marketed, than the words 'book', 'read' and 'author'.

"Further, such gTLD strings that are common industry terms are by definition memorable in a marketing sense, and are likely to draw consumers to a website. Amazon's extensive publishing and distribution rights, combined with its marketing strengths, empower it to make .book, .read and other gTLDs the key internet destinations for the purchase of books and eReading devices. This is the precise reason why such generic words used in generic ways cannot be monopolized at law, and should not be allowed to be monopolized over the Internet."

Kathleen Flynn. Indigo Books & Music Inc.

(NOTE — this comment also mentions that Amazon has also applied for the .book string in Japanese - Ed.)

Mar 05: Closed gTLD applications for important industry terms, such as .book, .read and .author, should be refused

Closed Registries Look Set to Dominate Entire Market Sectors

"The lack of clarity how certain closed registries will operate their DNS monopoly with search engine operators, is an understandable concern to the existing eco-system and this type of innovation sets an unprecedented global dominance in favor of a small number of existing dominant market organizations...

"Within this context, it cannot be argued that consumer choice will not be compromised, by a new form of DNS architecture, that looks to dominate entire market sectors. Nor can the difference between a 'generic product dot com' and a 'dot generic product' be equated as having a similar market value, when the latter has the possibility of commanding an entire suite of 'generic product dot generic product'.

"... the following areas remain to be addressed with purposeful guidelines to safeguard the further extension of the current (ICANN) gTLD application guidelines, Code of Conduct and New Registry Agreement:

...2. The current purpose and intent of the 'walled garden' approach for each 'closed generic' gTLD, for the sole use of the applicant, has not been defined in the current guidelines. Therefore as with the initial intent and use of existing gTLD's, the code of conduct of 'sole and perpetuity rights' have yet to be evaluated, discussed and decided within the ICANN stakeholder model.

3. The privatisation at the exclusion of public access or future right of access to the Domain space of the gTLD, and/or is in the 'public's interest' will need to be explained by the applicant.

4. How will the search engines react to a predominance of gTLD's under the pre-dominance of certain key organisations for example, if they dominate under every domain content regarding the list of goods and services?

5. How in the 'public interest' will there be a balanced non-bias representation in the page listings under each search term made in the URL, for good and services pertaining to baby, hair, cloud services, book etc... if exclusive rights are exercised by a predominant Registry?..."

Kristina Macaulay

(This is a personal comment, though Kristina is a member of ICANN's Non-Commercial Users Constituency - Ed.)

Mar 07: Personal Contribution to Closed Generic Public Comment Request

New gTLDs Proposal Was Half-baked

"The very existence of this comment period, seeking late guidance regarding "closed generic" gTLD applications, demonstrates convincingly that the ICANN Board pushed through a half-baked proposal, with artificial deadlines promoting the interests of insiders, rather than waiting until there was a thorough community consensus around a solid plan. Now the chickens should come home to roost.

"...ICANN only considered its own plan, pushed by its insiders, and gave no consideration to other plans produced by the community. That was wrong.

"By abandoning the current new gTLD plan, ICANN can recognize that it needs more time to 'get things right' rather than cut corners and 'do things fast.' "

George Kirikos

Feb 06: Existence of this comment period demonstrate new gTLDs proposal was half-baked

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