With the Public Meeting in Prague taking place less than two weeks after ICANN’s big reveal of the 1,930 new gTLD applications, it’s no surprise that certain applications and applicants were discussed openly during various sessions. For example, during the Public Forum on Thursday afternoon, a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl from China (ICANN’s youngest participants ever?) stepped up to the open microphone to express her support for an open, unrestricted .KIDS gTLD.
Not every comment was as positive, however. Both in previous meetings of the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) and again during the Pubic Forum, Olga Cavalli, the GAC representative from Argentina, took a strong stand against Patagonia, Inc.’s application for .PATAGONIA as a branded gTLD. Specifically, during the Public Forum, she stated the following:
“Patagonia is a vast and beautiful region that comprises several provinces. It is well known by the beauty of its landscapes, it is a relevant region for our economy because it has oil, fishing, mining and agriculture resources. It is also a region with a vibrant local community.
In the name of my country I am here to tell you that Argentina does not accept the .PATAGONIA request for a brand TLD, as it is shown in the list of New gTLD applied-for strings.”
(Thanks to DomainGang for transcribing the quote)
Now, according to the New gTLD Applicant Guidebook, if an applicant wants to apply for a geographic term as a gTLD, the applicant must provide documentation proving that the local relevant government or public authority approves of, or at the very least does not object to, the application. The Guidebook lists four categories of geographic names, including city names, sub-national place names (states, counties, provinces), country names and UNESCO region names (macro geographical, or continental, regions). Now, Patagonia does not clearly fall into any of those four categories – in Argentina, the Patagonia region encompasses five different provinces, or “sub-national places” as the Guidebook would categorize them. There’s also the fact that the area known as Patagonia also crosses the national border into Chile.
Patagonia, Inc., as we know, is not the only company that applied for a string that also references a geographic area. Will the GAC stonewall Patagonia, Inc.’s application? Will the two be able to reach some sort of mutually beneficial agreement? The way this conflict plays out could ultimately impact other applications for geographic terms.