Comments on Applicant Guidebook Discussion Draft, April 2011
Comments on the Applicant Guidebook (April 2011) First of all, we would like to express our appreciation for all the hard work that has resulted in the many valuable changes included in the latest version of the guidebook. We are also very pleased to note that provisions which take into account the situation of potential .brand applicants have now been included in the Registry Code of Conduct. Use of Geographic Names at the Second and Subsequent Levels The treatment of geographic names at the second and subsequent levels of the new TLDs is still one of our main causes for concern. Question 22 of the current DAG invites the applicant to “describe proposed measures for protection of geographic names at the second and other levels in the applied-for gTLD” including “any applicable rules and procedures for reservation and/or release of such names”. The applicant must show how they will incorporate GAC principles and it is recommended to refer to the mecha nisms employed by .info. While the importance of protecting geographic names under the generic TLDs is understandable, we ask ICANN to recognize the special nature of potential .brand applicants, and to either relieve them of this requirement or provide (or grant permission to independently develop and employ) a universal solution which will allow .brand applicants to release the reserved geographic names (as well as two-label country codes) for their exclusive internal use all at once. A release mechanism by which names that were not claimed by any government during the allocated period stay reserved and are either registered upon approval by the relevant government or go into a pool of available names (whilst still remaining at risk of government objection) would be inappropriate for .brands. This is because of the very nature of .brand TLDs, where names are registered for internal use only and the website content is brand-specific rather than representative of any country. The GAC could implement a universal solution whereby a centrally maintained list of countries and ccTLD operators who have agreed to their country names/country codes being registered under .brand TLDs (without the need for special procedures) is made available. As a result, any Registry who wishes to use such names will simply enter into an agreement with GAC or another relevant body, rather than having to consult with over 200 different governments individually. If introducing such a mechanism is not viable, .brand ap plicants would benefit greatly from being exempt from the requirement to create reservation and release mechanisms for geographic names. Alternatively, GAC could provide a list of contact points for the government representatives associated with each second level string. Moreover, governments could be obliged to respond to a request from the registry within a set period of time. The intention of the new TLDs is to add maximum value to all the Internet users, and Internet users will definitely benefit greatly from being able to find and access their preferred brands according to the geographic locations. However, this may be delayed unnecessarily if the release procedures for geographic names are overcomplicated. ICANN has previously stated that both ICANN and GAC recognize that it is important not to limit the possibilities of certain types of TLD such as .brand (NEW gTLDs PROPOSED FINAL APPLICANT GUIDEBOOK PUBLIC COMMENT SUMMARY, February 21, 2011, p.128-129), and we would like to recommend that this is reflected in the draft in the form of specific provisions. GAC Early Warning/GAC Advice Please clarify the guidelines which the GAC will refer to when making GAC Early Warnings and GAC Advice. The current explanation does not make it clear as to what kind of issues would cause a string to be considered questionable or sensitive and at the moment it seems that almost anything falls into the scope of GAC decision-making. .Brand Applicants in General The Registry Code of Conduct specifically mentions the case in which the “Registry Operator maintains all registrations in the TLD for its own use and (ii) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or otherwise make available to any unaffiliated third party any registrations in the TLD”. It will greatly benefit potential .brand applicants if a separate application category were to be created for such a model, or alternatively, if such a model were to be identified in the main body of the applicant guide book. Requirements for the Length of the Answers Where there are requirements for numbers of pages per answer (applies to a number of the 50 questions), please provide details regarding the necessary font size, page size and spacing between lines, (correspondent with those used in TAS). Alternatively, please set the length of the answers by number of words or characters. Application Process in General Please once again clarify the application process by providing a diagram with the updated timelines for each portion of the process. As of now, there are some places that have confusing information. Thank you very much for reading and considering our comments. Brights Consulting Inc. 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