WASHINGTON, January 3, 2012 – The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is strongly encouraged by the level of attention that the New Generic Top-Level Domain (gTLD) Program has recently received from the U.S. Congress, the Obama Administration and the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. In the last few weeks, the New gTLD Program, which the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is scheduled to begin implementing on January 12, 2012, has been the subject of congressional hearings, letters from private and public sector leaders to ICANN, and a meeting of stakeholders hosted by U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Assistant Secretary Lawrence Strickling.
Josh Bourne, President of CADNA, participated in the NTIA meeting and welcomed the opportunity to present CADNA’s proposed solutions to the major problems global brand owners see in the New gTLD Program. “CADNA looks forward to working constructively with ICANN, the Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Congress to make the policy better,” said Bourne. “With ICANN set on moving forward with the New gTLD Program in less than two weeks, there are certain clear, straightforward changes that could be made to the policy that will improve it for businesses and the Internet community at large.” CADNA’s recommendations include:
- The ICANN Board should determine and announce when the next round of new gTLD applications will occur. A major source of anxiety that businesses feel around the New gTLD Program stems from fear that if they do not acquire their own new gTLD in this first round, they will be put at a disadvantage relative to their competitors, in the event those competitors apply and gain a theoretical advantage from owning gTLDs, for an unknown period of time. Announcing the date of a second round would go far towards alleviating this anxiety.
- To lessen the financial burden on trademark owners and improve consumer protection, ICANN should consider including a requirement in the Applicant Guidebook that all new gTLD registries that choose to sell second-level domains to registrants adopt a low-cost, one-time block for trademark owners to protect their trademarks in perpetuity.
- ICANN should consider adopting a pricing structure where a single applicant applying for multiple gTLDs pays a reduced rate for the subsequent gTLD applications, provided that the applicant has trademarks for those applied-for strings predating 2008, and that those strings are exact matches of their registered marks. Many businesses that choose to apply for their own gTLD will likely also feel they need to apply for other gTLDs, either in other languages or scripts, or for other vital business units.
- ICANN should allow non-profit organizations that want to apply for their organizations’ names as gTLDs to qualify to participate in the Applicant Support Program, as described by the Joint Applicant Support Working Group (JAS WG) to lessen the financial burden on non-profits.
For the U.S. Congress:
- The U.S. Congress should take much-needed action to improve the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) in order to provide stronger deterrents against cybersquatting, both in existing gTLDs and any new ones that are created.
For the NTIA:
- If ICANN is awarded the new IANA contract following its expiration in March 2012, its structure and policy development process should also be subject to an audit. To ensure that this is done, the contract should be renewed for a short period of time, perhaps only two years. During this time, there should be an evaluation of whether ICANN followed through on its commitments with regard to the gTLD process, and extension of the contract should be contingent on conducting internal reforms to improve governance and transparency.
In addition to presenting these suggestions at the meeting with Assistant Secretary Strickling, CADNA delivered the same suggestions in a letter to ICANN, which includes further details on each of these recommendations.
CADNA hopes that its recommendations are as well received by ICANN as they were during the meeting with the NTIA, and looks forward to working with ICANN to implement the suggested changes.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization dedicated to ending the systemic domain name abuses that plague the Internet today. For more information, please visit www.cadna.org.