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Generic TLDs of Paramount Importance — Including Japanese TLDs

"We are deeply concerned about the current situation of applications which include closed generic TLDs and use these descriptive terms which are paramount importance to all stakeholders in related industries. They are as follows, '.APP, .AUTO, .AUTOINSURANCE, .AUTOS, .BANK, .BASEBALL, .BLOG, .BOOK, .BUY, .CALL, .CARINSURANCE, .CARS, .CASINO, .CLOUD, .COOKINGCHANNEL, .COUPON, .DEAL, .DRIVE, .FILM, .FOOD, .GIFTS, .HOTEL, .INSURANCE, .LIFEINSURANCE, .MOTO, .MOTORCYCLES, .MOVIE, .MOVISTAR, .MUSIC, .TOUR, .PAY, .SALON, .SAVE, .SHOP, .SHOW, -------- (Point in Japanese), -------- (Store in Japanese), -------- (Sale in Japanese), -------- (Fashion in Japanese), --------- (Book in Japanese), -------- (Mail-Order in Japanese).

"Defining 'generic terms', in a common manner, indicate the common name of the goods or services. One portion of the new gTLDs applications include generic terms associated with the broad market. The applicants claim to use these generic strings exclusively among their organization. These generic strings if used as gTLDs are common object for all human-kind and should not be the sole object of a private firm.

"Deep contemplation should be given at this stage for the applied-for new gTLDs including generic terms associated with the broad market.

"To ensure the healthy development of society and the growth of a fair Internet industry, we believe that a firm privately owning generic strings as domains does not contribute to the development of society and the growth of a healthy industry.

"For end-users, if ICANN allows closed generic TLDs to proceed; the end-user’s freedom of enjoying benefits from the Internet will also become restricted.

"...We should not allow the applications to progress further and the application fees should be refunded if the applicants turn down the applications. Secondly, the closed form system (which prevents other organization from use and changes the industry to a monopolistic system) for important industry terms should be changed to an open form system (where all entities have the right to access a system of common registrations).

"We hope that you will consider these perspectives to keep the Internet fair when launching the gTLDs."

Rakuten, Inc.

(Rakuten has over 10,000 employees and partner staff serving more than 78 million members worldwide.
Apologies for not including the Japanese script in paragraph one - Ed.)

Mar 07: Rakuten, Inc. Opposition to closed generic TLDs for important industry terms

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At Least Don't Make the Internet Worse

"A quick email to register my opposition to closed generic TLD applications. This is an ill thought out move. If you can't make the internet better you should at least not be making it worse."

Adam Wood. Stable

Mar 07: Closed generic TLDs

General Electric Company Says Closed Generics Should Not Be Allowed

"GE (General Electric Company) echoes and supports ICANN's recognition of the potential problems involved with allowing closed generics, and greatly appreciates ICANN's decision to open the issue to public comment. Some stakeholders may view disallowing closed generics as a major policy change. We believe instead that this reflects ICANN's desire to recognize an important issue, and to align any solution with its Affirmation of Commitments in order to promote consumer trust and the public interest.

"GE joins with the comments of Microsoft and other stakeholders that the exemption to Section 6 of ICANN's Code of Conduct was intended to apply to companies seeking brand-related TLDs and not industry-wide generic categories. As such, GE does not believe that closed generics should be allowed, and that applicants for closed generics should be given the chance to change their business model to an open generic or to obtain a full refund...

"Finally, we wish to take this opportunity to reiterate our belief that more time may be needed before the new gTLD program launches in order to prevent a rushed roll-out process and insufficient protections for stakeholders and the public..."

Kathryn Park. GE

Mar 14: Resubmission of Comments

Policy Could Lead to Oligopolistic Market Structures

"Nine different entities have applied for the "book" gTLD – despite the high fee which applies. This clearly shows the high level of interest in this particular gTLD and gives an indication of the enormous potential it would offer an exclusive proprietor. If any of these applicants were granted the exclusive use of the gTLD this could de facto further strengthen the position of a single, already powerful operator and would be detrimental to the book industry as a whole. In e-commerce markets for books and e-books which are already dominated by a small number of strong players, this could lead to damaging foreclosure effects and the reinforcement of oligopolistic market structures, to the detriment of consumers.

"At the very least, the winning applicant must be obliged to make the gTLD available without discrimination for registrations by all eligible parties, including all commercial entities within the book industry."

Federation of European Publishers
(Representing 28 European publishers associations)

Mar 04: Please find enclosed the message of the Federation of European Publishers

Enable a Healthy Competitive Landscape

"We reiterate that the phrase cloud cannot be clearly assigned to any one organisation operating in that market today and should not be granted as a closed registry.

"We are supportive of the implementation of an open registry for .cloud and any related action that would enable the use of .cloud domains by any credible cloud service provider.

"We request that ICANN only allow registry applications for .cloud that protects its status as an industry wide classification and enables the market to continue to evolve and innovate in a healthy competitive landscape.

"We strongly object to the notion of .cloud becoming a closed registry."

George Anderson. Webroot
(Webroot is a cloud industry supplier body - Ed.)

Mar 04: Objection to applications for a closed registry in the identity of .CLOUD

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Misleading Consumers and Harming Internet Users

"Examples of generic TLDs that are being pursued as closed include .app, .book, .insurance, .jewelry, and .search among others. This situation threatens the openness and freedom of the internet and we believe it will harm internet users worldwide. These applications present a competitive threat to other companies and are likely to mislead consumers.

"If ICANN allows closed generic TLDs to proceed, the internet will change from its current fluid form to an assortment of 'walled gardens.' This privatization of the internet does not benefit consumers.

"Ownership of generic industry categories as closed TLDs by industry players is likely to have anticompetitive impacts and limit consumer choice across the internet."

Jeremy Gordon. ThoughtWorks, Inc.

Mar 07: ThoughtWorks' opposition to the registration of closed generic top level domains

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Request to ICANN: Don't Exclude The Little Guys

"I just want you guys to think of the opportunities here for you ambitious startups to create businesses around this new opportunity. Thats all we need, so I am asking the ICANN to not allow big corps to leave the little guys out (We create more jobs)."


Mar 11: WE cannot have a monopoly on new gTLDs

Closed Generic... For .Security is Anticompetitive

"Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company. A closed generic domain is not in the public interest. If ICANN permits any company to possess a "closed domain" - including Symantec (a computer company) to use ".security" then the security and alarm industry could be lost. Closed use of ".security" is not similar to the way ".com," ".net" and ".org" are used on the Internet daily. Therefore, we believe a closed generic application for ".security" is anticompetitive and we request that ICANN require applicants for closed generic TLDs to either open the TLD or withdraw for a full refund."

John Georgoudes, Lanvac Surveillance Inc.

Feb 27: comments-closed-generic

Closed Generic TLDs may Discriminate Among Competitors

"We join a rapidly growing group of companies, organizations and individuals who oppose Closed Generic gTLDs and the power they grant to Registries for exclusive authority and potential misuse within the Internet domain name system. The global community expects ICANN to adhere to its principles to promote competition and consumer trust. ICANN must avoid taking steps that would permit potentially anti-competitive activities in the New gTLDs...

"A narrow exception to the Registry Code of Conduct is available to applicants seeking exclusive use of all domain names in their applied-for TLD.

"It was certainly not the intent or understanding of many in the ICANN Community, and organizations such as CTIA... that the exception would allow a Registry to bar all competitors, or discriminate among competitors, in their access to domain names in a TLD whose 'string' is generic or common for the services, products, industries or marketplaces of the relevant commercial sector.

"A Closed Generic TLD can never be 'in the public interest' as ICANN's rules require. Equal access and non-discrimination are hallmarks of the ICANN system and of open and fair competition. If Closed Generic TLDs are granted, a single competitor will receive the exclusive right to register all the domain names in the generic space itself. Should that occur, one firm in a competitive market would have the ability to discriminate by restricting access to its competitors.

"The following generic terms are both basic and ubiquitous within the wireless marketplace, yet multiple applicants have submitted closed generic applications to 'wall them off' for their exclusive use: .MOBILE, .PHONE, .CALL, .TALK, .APP, .CLOUD and .SEARCH."

Michael Altschul. CTIA-The Wireless Association

(CTIA is an international nonprofit organization with 256 members - Ed.)

Mar 08: CTIA Comments Opposing Closed Generic gTLDs

No To Privatisation Of .cloud

"I think this should be reconsidered.

"For a term that encompasses so many services across a marketplace it would be unjust to award the domain (.cloud) to someone specifically!

"No to privatisation!"

Luke Goodchild. DataBarracks

Mar 05: No to privatised .cloud domain!

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The Rise of Global Super Monopolies

"These (generic) words are the common heritage of all people and should not be commandeered for the exclusive advantage of the world's largest corporations. There is a real risk that the anti-competitive ownership of these immensely valuable domain strings will lead to the rise of global super monopolies.

"Right at a time when the internet is undergoing massive growth in e-commerce, it is critical that the new domains be allocated as fairly as is humanly possible, for the benefit of all people, particularly the disadvantaged."

Dave Tyrer. SuperMonopolies

Mar 05: SuperMonopolies dot com Objects To Closed Registries

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ICANN Closed Registries Forum (6)



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.

Prudential: Closed Domains (Which Function Like Trademarks) Will Lead to Monopolies

"...A competitive concern is clearly raised by... applications for generic industry terms with the stated goal of controlling those TLDs as closed registries and thereby securing an impermissible online monopoly on a source-identifying generic TLD. (cited)

"As a member of the financial industry, we believe the following applications raise significant concerns:

• Fidelity Brokerage Services, LLC ("Fidelity") submitted applications for the .MUTUALFUNDS, and .RETIREMENT domains; and

• Progressive Casualty Insurance Company ("Progressive") submitted an application for the .INSURANCE domain.

"Both Fidelity and Progressive stated their intent to administer these domains in a closed fashion.

"Issuance of generic gTLDs to applicants intending to control them as closed registries threatens to hamper competition and consumer choice, particularly where applicants seek gTLDs for generic terms in industries where they hold market share... (cited) Such a result would cause difficulties for competitors as well as hardship for consumers, who might not realize what product the competitors are selling because the product does not carry its common name.

"Traditional legal principles have long recognized that generic industry terms are not entitled to exclusive ownership because doing so hinders competition. The economic implications of and the need for competitors to use generic terms were well stated by Judge Richard Posner:

If a generic word could be trademarked by the producer of one brand of the product denoted by the word, and thus (upon proof of likely confusion) barred to use by producers of competing brands, the producer who trademarked it would have a competitive advantage that bore no relation to relative efficiency. Competitors would have difficulty informing consumers that they were competitors, because they would be unable, without elaborate and possibly confusing paraphrase, to give the name of the product they were selling... The trademarking of generic terms would impose excessive costs of information on competitors and consumers and is therefore forbidden. (cited)

"This reference to traditional legal principles is appropriate and relevant under the present circumstances because, as many commentators are noting, 'trademarks and domain names have become inextricably intertwined over the years.' (cited)

"Domain names are increasingly functioning as source identifiers, i.e. as trademarks. This trend will accelerate with the launch of numerous new gTLDs..."

"The view that domain names are mere addresses with no source identifying function is increasingly viewed as a relic of the past. (cited)

"Indeed, several applicants for the new TLDs explicitly state and recognize the inherent source-identifying role of the TLD... one of the applicants for the .app string emphasized the source identifying aspect of the proposed TLD, by stating:

" 'The proposed gTLD will clearly be differentiated from other gTLDs due to its purposefully limited scope... and as a result Internet users will immediately know the source of the gTLD.' (Charleston Road Registry application);..."

Dorothy C. A. von Hollen. Prudential

(Prudential applied for three trademark domain extensions (such as .pru), no closed strings and collectively with others on community applications for the .insurance, .lifeinsurance and .bank strings.

NOTE — Charleston Road Registry is Google - Ed.)

Mar 07: The Prudential Insurance Company of America Comment on .MUTUALFUNDS, .RETIREMENT and .INSURANCE Closed Generic TLDs

Google May Infringe a US Trademark on "TUBE"

"LAT (Latin American Telecom) finds itself in contention with Charleston Road Registry, which has submitted an application proposing that under its operation Google would be the only permissible registrant for .TUBE domains — it would appear to be a “closed generic” gTLD (an attempt to brand itself as .TUBE — a dictionary word for which it has no trademark rights). Google’s attempt to run a closed registry for a word in which they hold no brand or trademark rights is impermissible.

"Indeed, while it is beyond the scope of this submission Google is also conspicuously seeking an exemption that will trample LAT's pre-existing trademark rights. Conversely, LAT is the owner of a valid United States trademark for “TUBE” and has used its TUBE brand in commerce since at least 2008. So Google’s proposal for a closed generic .TUBE is anti-competitive, contrary to general trademark law principles, and detrimental to the public interest — and also infringes upon LAT’s established trademark rights.

"Alternative meanings of the term tube are used in physics, medicine, chemistry, architecture, consumer products, and even common expressions and slang that have nothing to do with video or television — such as tooth paste tube, test tube, optical tube, feeding tube, London tube, “down the tube”, for example. A single-registrant .TUBE controlled by Google would not be a platform for competition and innovation by all kinds of registrants from any industry but rather a means by which Google can extend and consolidate its dominance of online video distribution.

"As a closed registrant gTLD controlled by Google and extending the YouTube business model, a Google-only .TUBE could become a source identifier and thereby provide a backdoor route for Google to extend the trademark rights it now has on YOUTUBE to the word TUBE in which it possesses no trademark rights.

"By way of contrast, even though LAT possesses a United States trademark in TUBE it intends to operate .TUBE as an open platform for innovative and competitive new services offered by registrants from around the globe, thereby acknowledging the term has various meanings and should be open to public use.

"Monopoly is not an innovation, and is not compatible with the public interest. The history of the Internet is that new competition and innovation are introduced from the end points, as they would be if .TUBE were an open gTLD. ICANN can hardly respond that it’s no significant problem if these potential third party registrants can’t register a .TUBE domain since other gTLDs may be available – the entire foundation of the new gTLD program is a belief that generic labels do matter in the next stage of the Internet’s evolution, and that registrants should be offered broad new choices of relevant, right-of-the-dot genetic terms."

Rami Schwartz. Latin American Telecom LLC

(LAT's comment also includes an incisive and insightful comparison of Google applications for both the .TUBE and .YOUTUBE domain strings - Ed.)

Mar 07: Latin American Telecom Opposes Closed .Tube and Other Closed Generic gTLDs That Harm the Public Interest

Financial Industry Members Oppose Closed gTLDs as Contrary to Principles of Law

"By definition, a generic word, phrase, or acronym that is a common name for a genus of goods or services can be used by anyone and everyone and cannot be registered or otherwise protected as a trademark... This principle is firmly established in the laws of many jurisdictions around the globe. For example, under the Madrid Agreement and Protocol (which has 89 member countries), if a term is generic, that is an absolute ground for refusing international registration. (cited) Similarly, the United States Patent and Trademark Office ('USPTO') not only prohibits trademark protection of both generic and descriptive terms on their face, but also expressly requires a disclaimer of the generic terms contained in an applied-for trademark and requires the applicant to state that no right is claimed to the term. (cited) In fact, a search of the USPTO’s online database revealed at least 1,900 trademark applications or registrations in which the terms 'IRA,' 'mutual funds,' 'retirement' or 'broker' were specifically disclaimed... (cited)

"...A closed gTLD would grant a single business the exclusive use of a generic word and render that exclusivity enforceable on the Internet while unenforceable anywhere else.

"...The gTLD process should not lend itself to simply taking more popular, descriptive terms out of public use.

"Given the steps ICANN has taken to prevent trademark infringement and otherwise serve the public interest, the attempts by some applicants to assume exclusive control of generic words on the Internet raise serious concerns of propriety and responsible internet governance, regardless of whether such attempts are intended to circumvent trademark law. The very idea of a closed gTLD contradicts ICANN’s core values. Core Value number 6 provides that ICANN is to foster the introduction and promotion of 'competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest...' (cited)

"The public interest is particularly at risk in the case of generic terms that are defined by statute or other legal authority. For example, the term 'IRA' stands for 'individual retirement account' and has specific, statutorily defined meaning under United States tax law... Allowing any one company in a particular industry to obtain proprietary rights to a statutorily-defined term by using that term as a closed gTLD would suggest to the public that the company has a unique, preferred, or even government-sponsored role with respect to the products marketed under that domain.

"...Allowing a single entity to operate a domain registry using a term that is generic would give it an unfair competitive advantage and damage consumers’ interests by giving that entity a monopoly over a term that belongs to the general public, in contravention of established trademark principles... Principles of international law cannot permit such an anti-competitive and consumer-harming operation."

Helen I. Odom. TD Ameritrade
Yusuf Cassim. Charles Schwab & Co., Inc.
Lisa J. Heller. Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America (TIAA)

Mar 07: Financial Industry Members Oppose Closed Generic Top-Level Domains

Closed gTLDs Will Squelch Competition and Innovation

"The very idea of a closed generic top-level domain ('closed gTLD') flies in the face of the core values of... ICANN. Core value #6 states 'Introducing and promoting competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and beneficial in the public interest.' Restricting the use of generic words 'food', 'book', 'author', 'security', 'hair', 'read' and more to the furtherance of the 'stated goals' of a single business, or for the personal gain of any one business at the cost of competition, is in no way beneficial to the public interest.

"Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. intends to use the .FOOD closed gTLD as a 'Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., ('SNI') branded top level domain...' and that 'all of the programming, information, social media, shopping and lifestyle opportunities found on the .food branded top level domain is authentic, genuine, safe and secure and affiliated with SNI’s family of lifestyle brands.' ...the .FOOD closed gTLD is nothing more than an attempt to restrict competition and innovation for content, instruction, education, and programming on the Internet.

"The concept of a closed gTLD is diametrically opposed to the stated core values established by ICANN in fulfilling its mission. Assignment of any closed gTLD will squelch competition and innovation on the Internet."

Christopher M. Parrott. Dot Food, LLC

(Dot Food is an applicant for the .food domain string. Their comment also cites clarifying examples of actual closed registry applications for .book, .hair and .security - Ed.)

Mar 05: Objection of Closed gTLDs

Closed gTLDs Are Completely Contrary To ICANN Goals

"One of our goals is the protection of the interests of our members and a level playing field for their commercial interests. In this capacity, we strongly object to the awarding of closed generic TLDs such as 'book' to individual commercial entities, especially to those operating within the book industry.

"In the gTLD Applicant Guidebook, ICANN's President and CEO Rod Beckstrom states the goals of the new gTLDs to 'promote[s] competition and consumer choice'...

"In our view, the creation of closed gTLDs of generic words runs completely contrary to these goals: in fact, competition will decline and consumers will have less choice. In the long run, granting use of closed gTLDs could promote a shift in the Internet from being a public space to a collection of privatized islands or walled gardens. Similarly to the case of trade marks (where generic terms may not be registered), reserving the use of generic terms as gTLDs for individual companies is not desirable.

"Granting the 'book' gTLD exclusively to a single company would also make it impossible for the public to participate by registering and using second level domains under this TLD."

Alexander Skipis. Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels e.V.

(The organization represents 1800 publishers and 6000 booksellers in Germany.)

Mar 05: Statement of the Boersenverein on closed gTLD ".book"

We Should Support Choice & Competition, Not Work Against It

"OFE (OpenForum Europe) is concerned that there seems to be very little general awareness about the proposed changes to the gTLD registry and would encourage efforts for a wider debate on this issue to take place... Exempting applicants from ICANN’s Registry Operator Code of Conduct without restriction a single company could be positioned to potentially gain unfair advantage by setting up barriers to entry for would-be competitors, or could re-establish the 'lock-in' that has cost the user so dearly in the past.

"By example, in the case of .cloud, we would suggest that allowing a single company to act as sole registrar and registrant not only acts in direct counter to all the openness fundamentals of the Internet, upon which Cloud Computing is directly dependent, but that it will potentially allow that company to restrict its usage only to its sole benefit or to selected companies which are willing to pledge support to a particular choice of software platform or approach promoted by the .cloud owner. We believe that this could quickly lead to a single dominant supplier initiating controls (under the guise of marketing) which would be seen as anti-competitive, particularly to SMEs, upon whom local success, 'Cloud' will be dependent.

"We should be supporting choice and competition, not working against it.

"Either ICANN needs to develop a means of defining sensitive generic strings and all 'closed' applications for these strings be rejected. Or in the case of a sensitive string an alternative management approach is taken that is a catalyst for growth in that market, benefiting not just the operator but the market, and which respects the objectives of 'open, competitive, choice'. We would suggest that a viable and possibly alternative option for example in the case of .cloud would be to place it under the control of an independent organisation, free from the risk of exploitation by any one company, and indeed use it as a positive contributor and catalyst to growth..."

Graham Taylor. OpenForum Europe

Mar 07: Closed Generic TLDs and .cloud

Yves Rocher Warns a Single Company Can Capture a Generic Term

"Yves Rocher is extremely concerned by the 'Closed Generic' TLD Applications, in particular the BEAUTY, SKIN, MAKEUP, HAIR and SALON Applications from L'OREAL... (which) have the following characteristics:

— the TLDs applied-for are generic terms, words of common language, closely linked to an economic sector;

— the Applicant is a major stakeholder in the same economic sector;

— the Applicant plan to restrict the registration of domains under the TLD to itself or to a limited number of partners (subsidiaries, affiliates, business partners).

"The generic terms BEAUTY, SKIN, MAKEUP, HAIR and SALON are common words, constantly used by all actors of the cosmetic industry.

"Some of these generic terms describe a category of products and should not be reserved for, or monopolized by a single stakeholder in a business category.

"The Applicant (L'OREAL) is looking for an exclusive right to the TLDs BEAUTY, SKIN, MAKEUP, HAIR or SALON, despite the fact that these terms are common words and that its direct competitors also use them in their business, most of them even adding these terms to their trademarks.

"The main risk of delegating of theses TLDs under the rules requested by the applicants is the capture of a generic term by a single stakeholder.

"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.

"We therefore urge ICANN to resolve the ambiguity surrounding these applications, decide that « Closed Generic » TLD Applications such as BEAUTY, SKIN, MAKEUP, HAIR or SALON are potentially detrimental to consumers... and should not proceed any further."

Laboratoires de Biologie Végétale Yves Rocher S.A. (Yves Rocher)

(Yves Rocher has around 2,000 retail outlets and 40 million customers in 80 countries.

The company is also objecting to the closed generic TLD application for .rocher from Ferrero Trading Lux S.A. since 'rocher' is a type of chocolate - Ed.)

Mar 07: Yves Rocher Comment on Closed Generic TLDs



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