[bc-gnso] Orderly introduction of new TLDs

Ron Andruff randruff at rnapartners.com
Wed Oct 14 10:57:07 UTC 2009

Dear fellow members,


Prior to the close of the last round of comments on the DAG v2, RNA Partners
submitted a comment that focused on the fact that ICANN is embarking on
rolling out new TLDs without establishing some parameters around what a TLD
is, i.e., a definition.  The logic in favor of defining the TLD is simple:
Applicants should be encouraged to expand the name space, but should not be
allowed to cannibalize other registries.  A case in point was the round of
2004, when Tralliance Corporation received the right to manage .TRAVEL we
were restricted from marketing to any travel entities that would fall under
.AERO, i.e. airports, airlines, etc.


In the discussions that I have had with ICANN community leadership over the
last weeks it appears that all support the logic of including two questions
in the final AG: (1) what community do you intend to serve? and (2) how does
your TLD differentiate itself from others in the DNS?  Answers to these two
questions that demonstrate added value to the DNS would ensure that only
those TLDs which act in harmony with one another are added to the root,
rather than allowing applicants that meet the current criteria in DAG v3
irrespective of the fact that they may overlap or undercut another registry.
With some 24 gTLDs today, one might say there is relatively little concern
about this horizon issue; however, 5-10 years out, without the protections
we are recommending, new applicant registry operators would have no
impediment to undermining successful TLDs by selecting names that would
diminish an established domain space.  That would be anything but an orderly
introduction of new TLDs to the DNS.


We have reached out the GAC in this regard, as their recent communication
with ICANN appears to be inline with our concerns.  I have included my email
to the Canadian GAC representative below for your information.


In the interest of full disclosure, RNA Partners management is intending to
apply to manage .SPORT on behalf of the global sport community.  


I look forward to furthering this dialogue with you on the list and in


Thank you for your consideration in bringing this issue to an appropriate


Kind regards,




Ronald N. Andruff

RNA Partners, Inc.

220 Fifth Avenue, 20th floor

New York, New York 10001



V: +1 212 481 2820 x 11

F:  +1 212 481 2859 



From: Ron Andruff [mailto:randruff at rnapartners.com] 
Sent: 2009-10-09 18:24
To: 'Heather Dryden'
Cc: 'Marilyn Cade'; Cherian Mathai
Subject: Orderly introduction of new TLDs
Importance: High


Dear Heather,


I am contacting you at the suggestion of Marilyn Cade as I, like you, am
Canadian ;o) and a colleague of Marilyn's for some 10-years in the Business
Constituency.  I also note, in the interest of full disclosure, that my
company will be applying to manage the .sport domain for the global sporting


Marilyn and I have been discussing how to enroll ICANN in the notion of an
orderly introduction of new gTLDs and were considering the GAC
correspondence to ICANN Chair, Peter Dengate-Thrush of August 18th, 2009, in
light of our concerns.  I note that much of the contents of that letter are
consistent with the Business Constituency position on new TLDs, as well as
our personally-held position.  The BC set forth the following principles
regarding expanding the name space following the round of 2000:  


Five principles to determine future expansion  

Name space expansion should create added-value. Where there is added-value
there will be user demand. In this way expansion will enhance choice,
competition and be in the public interest. In a global market economy
added-value means differentiation and a practical way to achieve this is if
all new names meet five principles:




a gTLD must be clearly differentiated from other gTLDs



a gTLD must give the user confidence that it stands for what it purports to
stand for


 Good faith 

a gTLD must avoid increasing opportunities for bad faith entities who wish
to defraud users



a gTLD must create added-value competition



a gTLD must serve commercial or non-commercial users


Amongst several comments on DAG v 2, the BC noted the following: 


Module 1            We agree with the standard for confusingly similar gTLD
strings, which will not be allowed if they are deemed "so similar that they
create a probability of detrimental user confusion if more than one is
delegated."  But more detail is needed as to how ICANN will make this

Module 2 Standard for String Confusion is inaccurately limited to
"visually" similar.  Instead string confusion should be deemed to exist
where they are "so similar - in sight,    sound or meaning - that they
create a probability of detrimental user confusion if more than one is


I contacting you today because we would like to get a sense from you as to
how we should engage with the GAC to ensure that ICANN, in fact, introduces
new TLDs in an orderly and managed manner rather than its current position
of throwing open the door without consideration of the consequences of their
actions further down the road.


In July 2009 we submitted a comment to DAG v2 that focused on the fact that
ICANN is embarking on rolling out new TLDs without establishing some
parameters around what a TLD is, i.e., a definition.  The logic is simple:
Applicants should be entitled to flesh out the name space, but should not be
allowed to cannibalize other registries.  Our comment is noted here:

ICANN must re-confirm the definition of a 'top-level domain'

*	To: <e-gtld-evaluation at xxxxxxxxx> 
*	Subject: ICANN must re-confirm the definition of a 'top-level
*	From: "Ron Andruff" <randruff at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> 

Date: Tue, 21 Jul 2009 19:34:27 -0400 


To avoid the useless squandering of time and financial resources of ICANN
reviewers, staff and those of new TLD applicants, as well as to avoid the
needless bogging down of the roll out of new TLDs with objections based upon
(1) string confusion; (2) misappropriation of community; and (3)
infringement on the rights of others, ICANN must define what a top-level
domain is.  
We recommend that the definition should be "the apex of a well-defined human
activity, a community or a sector"; the key word in that definition being
"apex", which directly equates to the word "top" of "top-level domain".
This area was well-addressed in the new TLD application process used in the
last round of introductions of new TLDs, but is missing from the current
Draft Applicant Guidebook ("DAG").  In the applications for the 2004 round
of sponsored top-level domains, the first question [paraphrased] was: How
does the proposed TLD add new value to the Internet?  The second question
was: How does an application differentiate from existing TLDs? And the third
question asked: Which unmet needs does a proposed new TLD meet?  ICANN staff
cannot overlook or discard these core principles going forward unless it
intends to unilaterally abandon the logical expansion of the domain name
space that the ICANN community has worked so long and hard to establish from
the outset of ICANN's existence.  This would be tantamount to abandoning the
bottom up principles upon which ICANN was built and stands today.
Absent inclusion of this critical definition, ICANN would open the door to a
proliferation of TLDs that would be miniature sub-segments of apex TLDs,
which would lead to user confusion at best, and, without doubt, challenges
from apex TLDs, unnecessary defensive registrations and pernicious
compliance issues.
A case in point would be that in the event .NYC is granted to a registry,
and another five TLDs would be awarded for .BROOKLYN, .BRONX, .MANHATTAN,
.STATENISLAND and .QUEENS (the five boroughs that comprise the City of New
York), the cacophony of domain names for the same community would render the
whole TLD process absurd.
The second DAG is not clear on this issue and therefore we believe that this
oversight needs to be rectified to ensure that these particular requirements
from the 2004 introduction of new TLDs are included in the process
guaranteeing that in all cases the anticipated TLD expansion first and
foremost brings value to Internet users, and thus ICANN can avoid any
circumstance where user confusion could arise.
This issue can be addressed and clarified in the definition of "confusingly
similar strings".  The current definition should be expanded beyond the
semantic equivalence to also address the diminution of a TLD.  In rectifying
this oversight in the third DAG, ICANN will not only avoid user confusion
issues, but it will stop the loss of precious valuable resources that will
undoubtedly be wasted on a myriad of objections that could have been clearly
avoided from the start.
We trust that ICANN appreciates that the logical expansion of the domain
name space is at the heart of this process and that the critical issue we
are raising is in the interest of all stakeholders in the new TLD process,
but especially trademark holders, those with responsibility for Internet
security and stability, ICANN compliance staff and, most importantly,
Internet users both in the near term and those in the coming decades.

In August, the .sport Policy Advisory Council ("PAC"), which represents the
global sport community sent a letter
f>  to ICANN CEO and Chair to advise ICANN of the support and concerns of
the international sports family, particularly with regard to diminution of
.sport.  Sport is concerned that such diminution would gravely undermine
sport solidarity, which enables stronger federations to support those with
less resources and capabilities.  In short, the PAC has very real concerns
that ICANN would approve .sport as well as .volleyball, .basketball and the


As I mentioned at the start of this email, we believe that the GAC letter
supports a position that calls for applicants to define their intended
community as well as what differentiation they bring to the DNS, as examples
of defining themselves (as was required in previous rounds).


I would be most grateful if you could advise us as to how we best bring this
forward for GAC consideration.  I believe that the IP and ISP
constituencies, as well as the BC, support establishing clarity around this
issue and ensuring new TLDs are meaningful additions to the DNS (rather than
creating a free-for-all).  GAC support would ensure a logical expansion.


Thank you in advance for taking the time to read this rather long mail (I
apologize for that!) and for giving us direction as we look to Seoul to get
consensus on this position.


I look forward to your soonest response.  FYI, as I will be traveling over
the coming weeks leading up to Seoul, should you need to speak with me my
cell is: +1 917 770 2693.


Kind regards,




Ronald N. Andruff

RNA Partners, Inc.

220 Fifth Avenue, 20th floor

New York, New York 10001



V: +1 212 481 2820 x 11

F:  +1 212 481 2859 




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