Governments’ Early Warning Notes Issued On New Internet Domains

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No exclusive “.baby” top-level domain (TLD) for Johnson and Johnson, no exclusive “.blog” for Google, nor “.antivir” for Symantec or “.epost” for the German Postal Service. Of 242 government early warning notices to applicants for new generic top-level domains posted last night by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the majority target “quasi-monopolies” over generic names or lack of protective measures with regard to defensive registrations.

The list of early warnings is here.

Australia’s Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) clearly took the lead, filing over 130 warning notes, and applicants with large bundles of generic TLD applications like Amazon got served a significant portion of the letters.

Early warnings have been included under pressure from ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) on the new TLD application process started this spring by ICANN, the private net governance body located in Marina del Rey, California, in an effort to open up the domain name space for new generic TLDs like .com, .org. or .info.

Applicants can follow up the early warning notices with changes to their applications to address the governments’ concerns. They can also, if moving quickly, withdraw their applications and save 80 percent of the US$180,000 application fee. Or they can go forward and risk getting blocked by an official objection later in the process. The list of all applications is here.

Very much expected were a number of early warning notices on TLDs with geographic names, like .patagonia, a company filing that got an early warning from Argentina, Swiss Airlines (warned by Switzerland) or Delta Airlines (warned by Nigeria). India intervened on .islam pointing to its own muslim community. The United States, India and Australia alike were not amused with applications for .army, .navy or .airforce from a US company.

The much-debated DotConnectAfrica application for .africa was served early warnings from more than a dozen African countries who all said it tried to compete with the .africa bid officially supported by the African Union and many of its member states. Notably no objection has been filed for the TLD .gay, and only .sucks got an early warning that can be understood as related in part to “public morale”. Yet in some of the early warnings governments went very far in describing what kind of registration policy they would like to see or what jurisdiction they would prefer for a certain TLD.

ICANN has started to sort through the nearly 2000 applications,having external evaluators check the technical and financial soundness of the applications. The organisationm which just lost Kurt Pritz, vice president in charge of the TLD issues – Mr. TLD, as he might be called – due to a conflict of interest, has just announced it will on 17th December hold the draw to decide whose applications will be processed first. More objections from governments, as well as from other parties, and also “GAC advice” will have to be handled by the gTLD applicants in spring of next year.

Monika Ermert may be reached at info@ip-watch.ch.

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