ICANN Closed Registries Forum (4)
EDITED HIGHLIGHTS PART 4
Government Regulatory Agencies Will Be Excluded From .insurance Domains
"ICANN has stated that the new gTLD program was developed to enhance competition and consumer choice (cited). Granting a generic term for use as a closed registry fosters neither of these goals and instead will inevitably harm and mislead consumers and have a significant anticompetitive impact thereby limiting meaningful consumer choices.
"The business of insurance is a highly regulated industry that relies on competition and consumer trust. As such, delegating generic strings such as .insurance, .autoinsurance, and .carinsurance for the exclusive use of a single entity not only undermines the purpose and goals of the new gTLD program, but also challenges the basic foundation of the insurance industry. For example, Progressives application for .insurance states that it plans to use the gTLD 'not only to improve Progressives core businesses but to creatively react to and pursue revenue producing relationships' and that 'successful execution of [the .insurance initiative] ...will grow its reputation as a primary insurance resource in the U.S. and global marketplace.' Further, Allstate Fire and Casualty Insurance Companys (Allstate) applications for .carinsurance and .autoinsurance states that they believe the .carinsurance and .autoinsurance gTLDs 'will provide a single, trusted, ecosystem experience for the millions of potential consumers searching for insurance-related information on line.'
"These statements indicate the desire of a single entity in the industry to become the sole source of content from these generic TLD strings for the entire insurance industry... it is clear... that the applicants do not intend to obtain and operate these gTLDs for the benefit of the larger community, but instead to gain exclusive control of a key industry term for a TLD to the exclusion of the other companies (and trade groups) in the community. Accordingly... granting such closed generic TLDs would have a significant anti-competitive effect on this industry. In addition, the government agencies that regulate the business of insurance will also be excluded from using these insurance-based TLD strings or similar gTLD strings.
"...The Australian government recognized the deleterious affect granting these generic terms will have on competition. Specifically Australia stated, 'restricting common generic strings for the exclusive use of a single entity could have unintended consequences, including a negative impact on competition.' (cited)
"The statements in these applications also evidence the potential to create consumer confusion. Consumers will likely be misled into believing that one entity represents the entire insurance industry, has established measures that have set them apart from (or is safer than) the rest of the industry, or has somehow obtained governmental license or endorsement that it is superior to other members of the larger insurance community."
Gleason. American Insurance Association (AIA)
Mar 07: AIA Comments on Closed Generic TLD Applications
Microsoft: Closed Generics are Contrary to the Public Interest
"ICANN's precepts and the undergirding of this new gTLD expansion are based upon the fundamental concepts of competition and consumer choice. ICANN has stood steadfastly by these principles throughout its existence, as expressed in ICANN's Core Values (ICANN's role is to 'introduce[e] and promot[e] competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest'), ICANN's Affirmation of Commitments ('ICANN will ensure that as it contemplates expanding the top-level domain space, the various issues that are involved (including competition, consumer protection,.. and rights protection) will be adequately addressed prior to implementation'),.. (cited)
"Contrary to claims in some submissions, avoidance of the dangers inherent in closed generic gTLDs does not require ICANN to create new policies or processes. It can be achieved simply through proper implementation and interpretation of existing rules and processes, including application of the Code of Conduct and judicious use of exceptions thereto...
"ICANN, governments, industry associations, responsible businesses, consumer protection advocates, and the Internet community at large should carefully examine the threat to fair competition and innovation posed by exclusive ownership of common industry terms by a single industry participant, and ensure that ICANN policy prioritizes the best interests of consumers worldwide... The ultimate issue, and one that ICANN cannot ignore, is whether new registry models are in the public interest.
"In sum, this issue cuts to the core principles of the gTLD expansion itself. Closed generics are contrary to the public interest and the spirit and letter of ICANNs principles, and therefore should not be allowed..."
C. Pangborn. Microsoft Corporation
(Microsoft's comment has an interesting disclosure it has a closed registry application in place for the .docs string for which it does not hold a trademark! Nevertheless, Microsoft argues against its own application: "Regardless, Microsoft... believes that to better foster competition and innovation, and support a free and open Internet, ICANN should implement existing processes, and interpret existing rules, to prevent use of generic terms as closed gTLDs by industry applicants whose policies would exclude competitors or other interested parties." - Ed.)
Mar 07: Microsoft comments on closed generics
A Threat to Openness And Freedom
The Retail Council of Canada represents 45,000 store fronts across Canada and works to "enhance consumer choice and industry competitiveness".
"The RCC "...believes that competition will suffer if gTLDs that comprise important industry terms are granted. In particular, important pathways between retailers and online customers will be unavailable to competitors, and the registry operator will gain an unfair advantage in direct navigation and online search. It will also effectively gain exclusive rights to be associated with the kind of products or services they offer, which is something that could not be achieved through trade mark laws in Canada.
"For example, Amazon's publishing and distribution rights, combined with its marketing strengths, empower it to make .book, .read, and other gTLDs a success and the key internet destinations and search engine for books. This would put Amazon's competitors at a disadvantage. No other member of the book industry would benefit from such gTLDs...
"RCC is concerned that the delegation of such gTLDs may violate ICANN's by-laws and the New gTLD Registry Operator Code of Conduct. It is RCC's understanding that the exemption that permits closed gTLDs was intended for brand TLDs, not generic words that are common industry terms. We also understand that ICANN's core values include promoting competition in the registration of domain names.
"In short, RCC considers the delegation of closed gTLDs for generic industry terms (such as .book) to be a threat to the openness and freedom of the internet."
Retail Council of Canada
Feb 15: Retail Council of Canada Letter
AXA: Harm To The Public From "Walled Gardens"
"AXA is extremely concerned about the 'closed generic' gTLD applications for at least three reasons...
"First, closed generic gTLDs harm the public. The internet thrives on openness and freedom of choice. By allowing closed generic gTLDs, the Internet will change from its fluid, open form to an assortment of 'walled gardens'. Consumers do not benefit from walled gardens because when consumers search the Internet for various items, they want choices and not just the product or service of a single company.
"Next, closed generic gTLDs have anti-competitive effects. Applicants of these gTLDs will be positioned to gain an unfair advantage in direct navigation and online searching. They will become associated with the very genus of products they offer and will likely control their gTLDs perpetually. This also presents steep barriers to entry for would-be competitors and allows existing dominant market players to reinforce their market position to the detriment of competition.
"Finally, closed generic gTLDs circumvent ICANN's own Code of Conduct and New Registry Agreement. Specifically (these) dictate that registries may not register the domain names in their own right and that registries must provide non-discriminatory access to Registry Services to all ICANN accredited registrars. Therefore, applicants are attempting to circumvent ICANN's Code of Conduct and New Registry Agreement through exemptions that were not intended for them."
Weill. AXA Group
(AXA, one of the world's largest insurance & asset management groups, serves more than 100 million clients in 57 countries - Ed.)
Mar 06: AXA Comment on Closed Generic GTLDs applications
The Trademark Analogy: Domains (Single Space) v. Trademarks (Numerous Classes)
"I write to express personal opposition to the issuance of closed generic TLDs, which I consider an affront to common sense (not to mention an open, competitive market).
"While one might be tempted to consider the case of arbitrary trademarks (which have a common meaning, but the meaning is unrelated to the goods or services offered for sale under the mark, such as Apple Computer), the Domain Name System has a single namespace, while the trademark system has many (in the form of International Classes).
"The 'protection' of 'intellectual property' through the issuance of closed generic TLDs should not be allowed, and furthermore the regulation of generics should be such that there is no competitive advantage to be derived by an incumbent from operating the generic.
"It is not simply enough to adopt a FRAND* type approach, as what is 'reasonable' for a multinational is not necessarily (so) for an individual or small business, rather the costs should be comparable to those of the existing gTLDs (com/net/org)."
(*FRAND refers to "fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory terms." FRAND is implemented by standards setting and licensing organizations to promote competition - Ed.)
Mar 07: Opposition to closed generic TLDs
AAP Objection to .Book Domains Being Used Exclusively to Further Amazon's Business Goals
The Association of American Publishers expresses the "...opposition of U.S. book and journal publishers to closed generic gTLD applications generally and, in particular, to the closed generic gTLD application submitted to ICANN by Amazon EU S.a r.l. for the string BOOK.
"For the reasons stated below, allowing a single private company to secure exclusive use of a string like '.book' a gTLD of vast potential application and scope would defeat the purposes for which new gTLDs are being authorized and is, therefore, not in the public interest.
"The traditional primary meaning of "book" is a literary composition that is published in a written or printed form consisting of pages glued or sewn together along one side and bound in covers. Consequently, it is reasonable to expect that ".book" domains will be sought by authors, publishers, sellers, libraries, literary agents, educators, editors, collectors, illustrators, photographers, printers, binders, archives, clubs, bibliophiles and others for a myriad of different genres and related matters in nations throughout the world. In addition, ".book" domains may widely surface in connection with many secondary or idiomatic uses of the word "book" for example... travel arrangements...
"But these widespread uses will not occur if a ".book" registry application that was filed by Amazon EU S.a r.l, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the global online retailer Amazon.com, Inc. is granted. This is clear from the applicant's stated intentions in response to the formatted questions.
"Representative excerpts of Amazon's intentions include:
"AAP believes that ICANN approval of such an application would not be in the public interest."
Association of American Publishers
the national trade association of the U.S. book publishing industry.
Mar 07: AAP Comment on Closed Generic gTLDs
The Motivation is to Profit from Orchestrated Monopolies
"The Irish Internet Association (IIA) on behalf of their members would like to register their grave concerns in relation to the introduction of 'closed generics'. The very essence of the internet as an open, democratic and free space for users is compromised by the registration of certain generic domains by large corporations. The idea that generic words such as 'cloud', 'blog' and 'search' are owned by commercial entities who's primary motivation is to profit from an orchestrated monopoly of the market is at odds with the fundamental principles of an internet for all.
"The applications to ICANN from a number of large organisations seeking to close-off common words for use by one company is anti-competitive, stifles innovation and creates barriers to entry for new enterprise.
"The internet has been positively transformative for business and society as a whole. For the most part one of its defining and precious characteristics has been that it allows all comers to compete on a fair platform. Is it now to be turned into a marketplace that is 'owned' by a small number of world's largest brands who have bought the market and where new enterprises are commercially disadvantaged and consumers are restricted in choice?"
Irish Internet Association
Mar 05: FW: Closed gTLDs - Comment from Irish Internet Association
Go to Forum 5
SuperMonopolies.com A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names coming in 2013-14.
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