[bc-gnso] Orderly introduction of new TLDs

Liz Williams lizawilliams at mac.com
Wed Oct 14 11:12:51 UTC 2009

Hello Ron

This is really interesting.  Having just completed the Independent  
Review Process with the International Centre for Dispute Resolution in  
Washington DC on the .xxx domain application, your notes bring up two  
key subjective issues which will need fleshing out.

The first is that an applicant has to identify a community.  I had  
thought that there were no limitations on the kind of applications  
which may be submitted and that generic applications (like .shopping)  
would be as acceptable as a .holidays (to continue your travel  
theme).  We have had the proof of concept 2000 generic round, the  
limited "sponsored" 2003 round and I think that there is every  
expectation from a wide range of applicants that the next round would  
be open to any kind of applicant.

The second is differentiation from other TLDs.  This is a very tricky  
question for applicants.  It is easy to do that retrospectively  
comparing a new application to a legacy TLD but almost impossible to  
do against any concurrent application for something similar.  For  
example, vacations, holidays and travel.

The other difficult part of this is that evaluator's must be given  
guidance in the evaluation process -- differentiation is subjective;  
adding value to the DNS is subjective (for example, I love to travel  
but does .travel add "value" to the DNS); assessing competition is  
subjective and where that competition exists in the chain of  
relationships between end users and registry operators.

Finally, isn't your concern about an applicant who may be applying for  
something that is similar to or competing with an existing TLD  
addressed in the objection processes?

Best wishes.

On 14 Oct 2009, at 11:57, Ron Andruff wrote:

> 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 Seoul.
> Thank you for your consideration in bringing this issue to an  
> appropriate resolution.
> Kind regards,
> RA
> Ronald N. Andruff
> RNA Partners, Inc.
> 220 Fifth Avenue, 20th floor
> New York, New York 10001
> www.rnapartners.com
> 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 community.
> 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:
> 1
>  Differentiation
> a gTLD must be clearly differentiated from other gTLDs
> 2
>  Certainty
> a gTLD must give the user confidence that it stands for what it  
> purports to stand for
> 3
>  Good faith
> a gTLD must avoid increasing opportunities for bad faith entities  
> who wish to defraud users
> 4
>  Competition
> a gTLD must create added-value competition
> 5
>  Diversity
> 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 determination.
> 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 ormeaning –  
> that they create a probability of detrimental user confusion if more  
> than one is delegated.”
> 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 domain'
> 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  
> 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 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 like.
> 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,
> RA
> Ronald N. Andruff
> RNA Partners, Inc.
> 220 Fifth Avenue, 20th floor
> New York, New York 10001
> www.rnapartners.com
> V: +1 212 481 2820 x 11
> F:  +1 212 481 2859

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