Defensive Dilemma

FairWinds Partners —  February 17, 2012

As a gTLD Strategy reader, you know what’s up when it comes to “defensive” new gTLD applications. You know they have nothing to do with protecting your trademarks or brands against cybersquatters – there are plenty of trademark protections and objection procedures laid out in the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook that will prevent opportunists from cybersquatting at the top level, not to mention the fact that the complexity and cost of the application both act as more or less insurmountable obstacles for squatters.

You are also probably aware that when businesses feel they need to “defensively” apply for gTLDs, it is because they feel a certain anxiety about falling behind their competitors, who may potentially gain an advantage from owning their own new gTLDs. This anxiety stems from the fact that ICANN, despite having “reaffirmed” its commitment to a second round last week, still has not announced when this round will take place. By our best estimates, it will probably not be for at least another five years.

Apparently, no one from ICANN reads this blog. Otherwise, why would the organization have felt the need to request public comments seeking to clarify why certain parties perceive the need to “submit ‘defensive’ gTLD applications as a means to protect their trademarks”?

Now, in response to this public comment initiation, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has decided to convene a meeting to discuss the topic of “defensive” new gTLD applications. The non-profit that FairWinds founded along with a group of brand owners, the Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA), was invited to attend the NTIA meeting to offer insight into this issue, as well as other steps that can be taken to further prevent cybersquatting at the second level. CADNA sent a letter to ICANN back in December outlining a variety of steps it and the U.S. government could take to alleviate some of the anxiety felt by businesses and ultimately improve the New gTLD Program.

The meeting will take place on Monday, February 27, and you can expect an update here on gTLD Strategy blog soon after.