Concerns over additional domains

Following the decision to increase the number of generic “top-level domains” (TLDs) that are available globally (such as .com, .net and .org), concerns have been raised about how companies will enable third parties to register web addresses at these new domains.

Consequently, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC), which advises the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) on issues of public policy, has filed 242 Early Warnings on individual applications.

These highlight the need for further information or clarity on certain aspects of an application. While they are not binding, applications subject to an Early Warning are unlikely to be approved.

The affected companies have 21 days from 21st November to respond or to withdraw their applications in return for 80 percent of the application fee.

Amongst the applications causing concern was one for the .book domain by Amazon, amid fears that it would have a negative impact on competition within the marketplace.

The criteria for third party access to the TLD should “be appropriate for the types of risk associated with the TLD, and should not set anti-competitive or discriminatory conditions relating to access by third parties. These criteria should form part of any binding contract with ICANN, and be subject to clear compliance oversight by ICANN,” according to the related Early Warning.

During the evaluation process, ICANN will be considering how applicants will safeguard against “abusive registrations and other activities that affect the legal rights of others”, as well as reduce the potential for “phishing and pharming”.

For more information on this or any other intellectual property matter, please contact BJ Chong at BJChong@palmerslaw.co.uk