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Closed Generic TLDs - The Final Battle?

Over the past couple of years I’ve posted several times on the issue of “closed generics” (e.g. see posts from Feb 24, 2013 & Jun 14, 2012).

In essence these are new TLD applications where the string is a “generic term” AND the applicant wanted to keep all domains in the registry for their own use.

The baseline registry agreement with ICANN now contains language that resolves the issue, or at least it would appear to do so:

Section 3d of Specification 11 of the Registry Agreement

Registry Operator of a “Generic String” TLD may not impose eligibility criteria for registering names in the TLD that limit registrations exclusively to a single person or entity and/or that person’s or entity’s “Affiliates” (as defined in Section 2.9(c) of the Registry Agreement). “Generic String” means a string consisting of a word or term that denominates or describes a general class of goods, services, groups, organizations or things, as opposed to distinguishing a specific brand of goods, services, groups, organizations or things from those of others.

In the last few days ICANN has started publishing the requests its received for exemptions to the standard registry code of conduct. What that means in simple terms is that brand holders who want to be able to keep all the names in a registry for themselves and their affiliates need to request an exemption from ICANN.

While the bulk of the requests received aren’t problematic such as Bloomberg’s application for ‘.bloomberg’, there are others that are more questionable in nature.

For example “translations” is, in my view, a generic term. Sure, a company might hold a trademark for the term, but does that give them a right to monopolise the entire ‘.translations’ namespace?

Or what about ‘.caravan’ ? Or ‘.realtor’?

Can any one company or organisation really claim that entire concept for themselves?

It’ll be interesting to see how the broader ICANN Community reacts.

You can review the full list here and submit comments.

By Michele Neylon, MD of Blacknight Solutions

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