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Flaws in the Objection Process

One of the requirements of making a valid and official objection to a new gTLD application is that the objector must prove that:

"Community opposition to the application is substantial..."

However, Super Monopolies makes the case that the general public is largely unaware that applications even exist for the numerous exclusive, closed domain string registries on common dictionary words.

And of the general public who are aware that hundreds of new domains are coming, almost all would surely assume that the names will be available to the general public just as .com and .net names are available on the open market.

There is a precedent for this, and the fact that many registrars are accepting "pre-registrations" or expressions of interest for domains which may in fact be subject to public exclusion is adding to the deception.

After all, the public interest is being served by the regulator, ICANN, right? Right?

After all, ICANN's own website states: "ICANN developed the New generic Top-Level Domain Program to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet's addressing system." That should protect consumers, right?

What is happening is in effect like a coup d'état — if nobody knows about an impending injustice — how can community opposition be proven to be substantial (which in turn is required to make a valid objection)?

If closed gTLDs are ultimately permitted, then community reaction will likely be one of fury, but by then it will be several years too late for the official objection process.

Companies like Amazon will have built billion dollar enterprises on words usurped from the citizens of the world.

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A Toronto Sun article indicates that even at a corporate level there is a lack of knowledge & understanding of the new gTLD launch, a demographic from whom you would have expected the highest level of awareness:

"A recent survey by Internet registry services company Afilias, which is applying for about 150 new domains on behalf of clients and already provides key infrastructure for .org, .info and .mobi, found considerable uncertainty about the process.

"Of 200 major consumer brands it surveyed in the United States and Britain, 53% were either not aware that they could participate in the process at all or did not know that the application window was open and when it would close."

Toronto Sun, Web Address Controversy Deepens

There should be a fifth ICANN objection category with open parameters:

5. Miscellaneous (perhaps with a $100 fee to discourage frivolous complaints).

What may well happen is that ICANN will oversee the launch of anti competitive monopolies such as the .store domain string, and only after a year or two has passed, when the unfair reality dawns, community opposition will indeed be substantial. But by then, it will be too late, and ICANN will have failed the world.

And ICANN will have failed to keep its aims and promises of fairness and equity in the domain name system.

ICANN's Mission May Fail

The proposed closed registries for many new gTLDs clearly create a real risk of contravening ICANN's stated claims in their guidelines that they will protect the interests of the community, as expressed like this:

"...a likelihood of material detriment to the rights or legitimate interests of a significant portion of the community..."

"...economic damage to the community represented by the objector..."


"...the applicant is not acting or does not intend to act in accordance with the interests of the community or of users more widely..."

Stated aims in ICANN's gTLD Applicant Guidebook, Module 3, (P 22-24)





The Official Objection Procedure

Despite the hundreds of millions of dollars ICANN possesses in funds from its jurisdiction over the internet naming system and rollout of new gTLDs, lodging an Official Objection is prohibitively expensive for just about anyone. There can be little doubt that the exorbitant cost has discouraged official objections when in comparison you consider that a large volume of negative comments have been made when that option is free.

The parameters that narrowly define anyone's eligibility to make objections are highly controversial. The definition of "objection" should be limitless, not narrow. ICANN has apparently not foreseen the possibility of the rise of powerful economic domain monopolies, but in any case the problem should have been easy to object to and the procedure should have had open parameters.

To a domain and brand expert, the problem is very real and self-evident.

Justice is justice. Justice knows no boundaries.

An injustice served on just one individual is still an injustice. In which country does the law require substantial "community opposition" to an act before justice is carried out?

More follows.

ICANN Procedure

The objection period for the new gTLDs began in 2012 and closed in 2013. More details are published on the ICANN Objection and Dispute Resolution page.

There are four categories of objections:

1. String confusion
2. Legal rights

3. Limited public interest
4. Community

SPECIAL NOTE: Objections are not filed directly with ICANN but with authorized Dispute Resolution Service Providers as follows:

1. String confusion
The International Centre for Dispute Resolution

2. Legal rights
World Intellectual Property Organization

3. Limited public interest
The International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce

4. Community
The International Center of Expertise of the International Chamber of Commerce

pull quote graphic"Community" seems to be the applicable category where you can lodge a formal objection to an exclusively owned dictionary word domain string application like .game. In other words, "Community" seems to be where you must lodge an objection if you care about the anti competitive intentions of some of the domain string proposals as described on this website. The fees are high — expect to pay in the range of $40-50,000 or more.

"The non-refundable amount for the administration of proceedings pursuant to the New gTLD Dispute Resolution Procedure is €5,000.

"The administrative expenses shall, normally, not exceed €12,000 for one expert panel proceedings and €17,000 for three expert panel proceedings...

"The fees of each expert shall be calculated on the basis of the time reasonably spent by the expert on the proceedings... The hourly rate shall be €450 unless decided otherwise by the Centre after consultation with the expert and the parties."

International Centre for ADR

For further details, visit ICANN's Objection and Dispute Resolution page, scroll down to the Community section, and click on ICC Fees to download a PDF file.

SPECIAL NOTE: ICANN received about $350m in application fees for the new gTLDs. A percentage of this should have been spent on a global awareness campaign.

Eligibility to lodge an objection is unnecessarily restrictive — the process excludes many possible legitimate points of view:

"• For an objection to be successful, the objector must prove that: the community invoked by the objector is a clearly delineated community; and

• Community opposition to the application is substantial; and

• There is a strong association between the community invoked and the applied-for gTLD string; and

• The application creates a likelihood of material detriment to the rights or legitimate interests of a significant portion of the community to which the string may be explicitly or implicitly targeted."

You don't appear to be permitted to lodge an objection based on your individual opinion, you don't appear to have individual rights on this issue. You have to define the community you represent and demonstrate widespread opposition within it:

"The objector must prove substantial opposition within the community it has identified itself as representing."

ICANN's requirements are not restricted to points like the following, but these are examples of the types of evidence that you must provide for your objection to succeed:

"• Evidence that the applicant is not acting or does not intend to act in accordance with the interests of the community or of users more widely, including evidence that the applicant has not proposed or does not intend to institute effective security protection for user interests...

"• Nature and extent of concrete or economic damage to the community represented by the objector that would result from the applicant’s operation of the applied-for gTLD string..."

ICANN's gTLD Applicant Guidebook, Module 3, (P 22-24)

So, for example, let's suppose you are operating a little shop selling golf clubs, and you wish to register the domain There is currently no guarantee that the .shop string will even be an open registry. So to be certain of eligibility, you will have to demonstrate to ICANN that there is significant community objection to Amazon owning every .shop domain in existence, including (Since Amazon has applied to own the .shop domain extension as a privately owned, closed registry). If you are not able to demonstrate a high level of community objection, and if you can't afford around €15,000 in fees, then you may not even be able to apply for a .shop domain.

Could it be that the surprisingly large number of applications to operate closed, monopolistic registries observed the serious flaws in ICANN's procedural methodology described above, realized that objecting was almost impossible both rationally and financially, and decided to exploit it for their own unfair gain?



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au time logo — A hypothetical analysis of the new top level domain names — coming in 2013-14.



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