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Objection of Closed gTLDs

  • To: comments-closed-generic-05feb13@xxxxxxxxx
  • Subject: Objection of Closed gTLDs
  • From: Christopher Parrott <chris@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 5 Mar 2013 08:41:25 -0600

As the Chief Financial Officer of Dot Food, LLC, an applicant for the .FOOD
gTLD, I represent a vested interest in the delegation of the .FOOD gTLD.  The
existence of any closed gTLD will affect form, function, and use of the
Internet in its entirety.  The impact of closed gTLDs reaches beyond any
stake in any single gTLD.  It is with great concern for the Internet as a
whole that I submit these comments for consideration by the community.

The very idea of a closed generic top-level domain (“closed gTLD”) flies in
the face of the core values of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names
and Numbers (“ICANN”).  Core value #6 states “Introducing and promoting
competition in the registration of domain names where practicable and
beneficial in the public interest.”  Restricting the use of generic words
“food”, “book”, “author”, “security”, “hair”, “read” and more to the
furtherance of the “stated goals “ of a single business, or for the
personal gain of any one business at the cost of competition, is in no way
beneficial to the public interest.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office definition of a trademark is
“a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination thereof, that
identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from
those of others.”  Generic words that are common names for goods and
services can be used by anyone and everyone and can never be registered as
trademarks.  In fact, when a trademarked word becomes common, such as
Zipper, Escalator, and Aspirin, the word loses its enforceability.  A
closed gTLD grants a single business the exclusive use of a generic word
that is enforceable on the Internet while unenforceable anywhere else.  Given
the steps ICANN has taken to prevent trademark infringement, if the
attempts by some applicants to take control of a generic word on the
Internet are not an attempt to circumvent trademark law, it is still
unethical.

Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. intends to use the .FOOD closed gTLD  as a
“Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc., (“SNI”) branded top level domain…” and
that “all of the programming, information, social media, shopping and
lifestyle opportunities found on the .food branded top level domain is
authentic, genuine, safe and secure and affiliated with SNI’s family of
lifestyle brands.”  Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. appears to see some
benefit to an affiliation of .FOOD with Great American Country programming.
This is not present in the .FOODNETWORK affiliation, another gTLD for which
they have applied.

As Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. has applied for the .FOODNETWORK gTLD,
which is associated with the Scripps Networks’ registered trademark for
“Food Network,” the .FOOD closed gTLD is nothing more than an attempt to
restrict competition and innovation for content, instruction, education,
and programming on the Internet.  Lifestyle Domain Holdings, Inc. states
that registrants, Internet users, and others will benefit from the closed
gTLD .FOOD because of:

The reputation of SNI’s family of lifestyle brands is well recognized as a
single source for high quality entertainment, instruction, education and
tips and tools to be a[ble to] better enjoy life, make improvements inside
and out of the home, travel and enjoy new experiences in an ever
increasing[ly] connected world.

It seems that Martha Stewart Omnimedia, Inc., Hearst Communications, and
Time Inc., among others, might take issue with SNI’s self-proclamation of
preeminence in the realms domestic, travel, and food “entertainment,
instruction, education, and tips and tools” and how that self-serving
assessment benefits registrants, Internet users, and others.

Another closed gTLD application is for .BOOK.  In this application, Amazon
states that the mission of the .BOOK registry is “To provide a unique and
dedicated platform for Amazon while simultaneously protecting the integrity
of its brand and reputation.”  As Amazon uses the same comment in its
closed gTLD applications for .MUSIC, .CLOUD, .MOVIE, .MOBILE, .MAIL, .MAP,
.LIKE, .KIDS, .JOY, .HOT, .GROUP, .GAME, .FREE, .FAST, DRIVE, .DEAL,
.COUPON, .CIRCLE, .CALL, .BUY, .BOX, .AUTHOR, and .APP, it is clear that
Amazon has no intent for any user, registrant, or any other entity to gain
anything from the operation of any of these proposed closed gTLDs.  Each
application states that the closed gTLD will be “for use in pursuit of
Amazon’s business goals.”  Does Amazon’s Intellectual Property group truly
believe they need sole control over, among other things, selected geometric
shapes, emotions, and relative temperature adjectives?

In the application for .HAIR, L’Oréal states, “the primary mission and
purpose of the .HAIR gTLD is to provide a trusted, hierarchical, and
intuitive online hub for L’Oréal, its business units, and partners, to
register domain names in a secure online environment.”  In the application
for .LOREAL, L’Oréal states, “The intended future mission and purpose of
the .LOREAL gTLD is to serve as a trusted, hierarchical, and intuitive
namespace provided by L’Oréal and its qualified subsidiaries and
affiliates, to L’Oréal customers, consumers, and Internet users.”  The
nearly identical missions between the .LOREAL and .HAIR closed gTLDs gives
the impression that the closed gTLD is little more than an attempt to
co-opt the generic noun “hair.”

The application for .SECURITY by Symantec Corporation states, “The intended
future mission and purpose of the .SECURITY gTLD is to serve as a trusted,
hierarchical, secure, and intuitive namespace provided by Symantec for its
consumers.”  Symantec goes on to assert that the closed gTLD .SECURITY will
benefit registrants, Internet users, and others by establishing “a trusted
source of information and an online marketplace for the millions of
consumers who purchase goods and services through Symantec’s online stores,
for investors and third parties seeking information, and for the general
Internet user population…”  The assertion that Symantec has the right to
dictate that its own message is the trusted source of information regarding
security for third parties is beyond conceited.  Moreover, the fact that
Symantec applied for the .SYMANTEC gTLD makes it clear that operating
.SECURITY as a closed gTLD is nothing more than a land grab.

While these are just some examples of closed gTLD applications, they
demonstrate that the single goal of the closed gTLD is to benefit a single
entity.  The fact that each entity in these examples has applied for their
trademarked property shows that the closed gTLD is a thinly veiled attempt
to monopolize segments of the Internet through high-end cyber-squatting.

The concept of a closed gTLD is diametrically opposed to the stated core
values established by ICANN in fulfilling its mission.  Assignment of any
closed gTLD will squelch competition and innovation on the Internet.  Neither
the Internet community nor ICANN can tolerate the delegation of closed
gTLDs.

-- 
Christopher M. Parrott
Chief Financial Officer
Dot Food, LLC


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