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Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators (FOHB) comments on GAC Safeguard Advice

  • To: "comments-gac-safeguard-advice-23apr13@xxxxxxxxx" <comments-gac-safeguard-advice-23apr13@xxxxxxxxx>
  • Subject: Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators (FOHB) comments on GAC Safeguard Advice
  • From: Raphael Paulino Gimenes <info@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 14 May 2013 18:42:12 -0300

The following comments are submitted on behalf of Forum of Brazilian Hotel 
Operators (FOHB).

1.     The Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators (FOHB), a nonprofit association 
which represents 25 important national and international hotel chains operating 
in Brazil, represents approximately 520 hotels and 84,000 rooms in more than 
100 cities. Its associated companies recorded together more than R$ 6 billion 
(~US$ 3 billion) in annual sales and is responsible for asset management 
estimated at $ 13 billion (~US$ 6,5 billion). With new projects (until 2015) 
will reach R$ 17.5 billion (~US$ 8,75 billion). Generate approximately 150,000 
direct and indirect jobs, and untill 2015 will create more than 50,000 new jobs.
FOHB's associated companies operate several websites through which Internet 
users can quickly and easily find and book hotels.

2.     The Governmental Advisory Committee issued on 11 April 2013 its first 
GAC Advice - the GAC Beijing Communiqué - in which it lists safeguards 
applicable to broad categories of new gTLD strings. Among these categories, the 
GAC targets specifically a category known as "Closed Generic gTLD Applications" 
under the term Exclusive Access. The GAC makes clear that "for strings 
representing generic terms, exclusive registry access should serve a public 
interest goal."

3.     The GAC has identified a non-exhaustive list of 60 strings that it 
considers to be generic terms, where the applicant is currently proposing to 
provide exclusive registry access. This list includes the applications for 
.hotel (application # 1-1249-36568 by Despegar Online SRL) and .hotels 
(application # 1-1016-75482 by Booking.com B.V.).

4.     Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators publicly expressed its opposition to 
these applications and also the applications for .hoteis and .hoteles 
(application # 1-1249-87712 and application # 1-1249-1940 Despegar Online SRL) 
which are all based on a "Closed Registry" model, first by publishing Public 
Comments on applied-for strings in September 2012, and second in participating 
to the public comment period on the "Closed Generic gTLD Applications in 
February 2013.

5.      Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators can only but support the GAC in this 
approach, insofar as it aims to avoid the establishing of monopolies and 
ultimately protect consumer interests.

6.     These safeguards are all the more important that certain applicants have 
chosen to apply for closed control of a generic term designating a particular 
industry while they are in fact already engaged in the conduct of business 
activities in that particular industry. The main risk is that the delegation of 
a generic term matching an economic sector to one single player will lead to a 
monopoly by excluding direct and indirect competitors.

7.     Some of these generic terms are critical for the conduct of an activity 
and should not be reserved for, or monopolized by, a single stakeholder in a 
business category. The hotel industry is largely dependent of the DNS (Domain 
Name System): 50% of travel bookings are made online and 45% of travelers are 
using online travel agency search capabilities.

8.     The generic term "hotel(s)" in English, Spanish or Portuguese cannot 
benefit and be operated by one single stakeholder, which moreover is a major 
online travel agency in the market. Indeed, such monopolies  will necessarily 
end up harming the other actors of the market, including hotel operators since 
the Applicants will be in a position to discretionarily impose their conditions 
for the registration of domain names, referencing and reservation of hotel 
rooms, excluding de facto any other online booking service provider of their 
choice, from the hotel TLD.

9.     "Closed Generic" gTLD Applications have been identified as a major issue 
for the new gTLD program back in June 2012, when Applications were made public. 
Further to several communities' expressed concerns, the New gTLD Program 
Committee of the ICANN at its 2 February 2013 meeting directed the President 
and CEO to (i) open a 30-day public comment forum on this topic and (ii) 
request the GNSO to provide guidance on this issue. The Public Comment forum 
was held from 5 February 2013 to 7 March 2013 and generated over 260 comments. 
Neither the Report of Public Comments, nor the GNSO study have yet been 

10.  Major stakeholders from all economic sectors have expressed concerns and 
published comments opposing to these "Closed Generic gTLD Applications", 
including but not limited to IKEA, Microsoft, Rakuten, the US Postal Service, 
USTelecom and many associations and representative bodies.
Concerning more specifically the closed generic applications composed of the 
word "hotel(s)" either in English, Spanish or Portuguese, they were subject to 
several negative comments from many hotel operators, online travel agencies, 
representative bodies, associations and even Governments. They are currently 
subject to formal Community Objections before the ICC, by major representative 
bodies like HOTREC (the umbrella association of Hotels, Restaurants and Cafés 
in Europe) and HCPC (the Hotel Consumer Protection Coalition).

11.  Like Governments and the long list of opponents, Forum of Brazilian Hotel 
Operators is convinced that allowing "Closed Generic" gTLD Applications will be 
a source of distortion of competition and consumer misleading. The Affirmation 
of Commitments defines the ICANN objectives which include promoting 
competition, consumer trust and consumer choice. Allowing "Closed Generic" gTLD 
Applications will produce the exact opposite effect.

12.  Forum of Brazilian Hotel Operators urges the ICANN to implement the GAC 
Advice safeguards and to forbid any "Closed Generic" gTLD Application for a 
generic term.


Raphael Paulino Gimenes
11 3527-9484

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