Archives For New gTLDs

By now you’ve hopefully filed your taxes and received your refund – and if you buy and sell BitCoins, you definitely filed that information and any losses or gains, right? Sounds wacky but Forbes explains in a recent article that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCen) considers the online currency to be a traded and taxable good or service.

“The IRS already gets a piece where you swap one product or service for another, as the IRS explains at its Bartering Tax Center. Soon the IRS may have a Bitcoin Center too. The Treasury unit called FinCEN… already has rules about Bitcoin and the IRS is likely to follow.”

This may be due to all of the attention the digital coin has been getting recently as media outlets report wild fluctuations and question its value. The coins, which can be purchased on bitcoin.org, reside in an online wallet (like an online bank account) and a Bitcoin address is “the only information you need to provide for someone to pay you with Bitcoin,” according to the site.

Clearly users trust Bitcoin’s cryptography and the website itself in order for the currency to survive and thrive. Consumer trust is critical to the success of online banking as well – and bank IT security leaders work tirelessly to stay on top of or ahead of an endless barrage of cyber attacks, especially in the form of phishing. As recently as April 5, Ars Technica reported a phishing attack on Coinbase, a Bitcoin wallet service: “Someone has been sending e-mails to Coinbase users claiming that they need to log in to confirm recent transactions but directing them to a website not controlled by Coinbase.”

So maybe Bitcoin should apply for its own branded top level domain (TLD) .BITCOIN in the next round of applications? If Bitcoin operated a closed registry, meaning that it didn’t allow anyone else to purchase secondary domain names in the TLD, some phishers could be thwarted. IF enough consumers understand that addresses in the address bar cannot be spoofed, they will KNOW corp.BITCOIN can only be a Bitcoin site. Moving the currency to its own, more secure TLD may also please government officials, who are beginning to discuss regulating the purchase and trade of these cyber coins.

As Neil Irwin described the idea of bit coin in a recent Washington Post article, “There is a certain theoretical elegance to the idea of a borderless currency.” The same is true of the Internet itself: there is elegance to the idea of borderless communication, or transactions in the currency of information and knowledge. But the same issues that exist within boundaries and between countries exist in even a borderless cyberspace: issues of security, politics, culture, and governance. Online currency is in its infancy, but seems an inevitability – and also one of the ‘innovative business models’ that supporters of new gTLDs imagined when launching the new gTLD program.

ICANN has posted a “Proposed Final New gTLD Registry Agreement” for public comment, and it’s no surprise many gTLD applicants are not satisfied.

This latest version of the Registry Agreement (RA) “is the result of several months of negotiations, formal community feedback during a public comment forum initiated on 5 February 2013, and meetings with various stakeholders and communities,” ICANN states.

Despite the work that went into it, many applicants hope that this version will not be the last.

The RA features a number of updates and changes – including revisions to the amendment process, a new confidentiality provision, and revisions to registry owners’ rights and obligations on reserved names.

But much work remains.

ICANN’s process for amending the RA – after registries sign it – is still the object of intense debate. Many argue this top-down approach is antithetical to ICANN’s consensus-building, multi-stakeholder process, but ICANN has shown little to no inclination to budge on this point. Brand stakeholders also remain concerned about insufficient trademark protections in the event a registry fails.

The Registry Agreement Negotiating Team (RA-NT) – an informal group with no decisional authority that nevertheless worked with ICANN on the redraft – issued a statement making clear it expects additional changes upon closure of the public comment period, over a month away.

For now, we eagerly anticipate reaction from the ICANN community and the ICANN board and wonder whether the board will accept the community’s feedback before final terms are approved.

On March 22, ICANN announced the first 27 applications for new gTLDs that passed Initial Evaluation.

The 27 applications that passed and that do not face any objections or string contentions will be able to proceed to the contracting phase. These applicants can execute their contract with ICANN “as early as 23 April 2013″.

ICANN is planning on releasing Initial Evaluation results each week, 30 strings at a time, and the organization is hoping to increase the release to 100 strings per week.  The status of the three applications that would have rounded out the first 30 – application 7, 18, and 29 in terms of priority rank – is still unknown for “one or more possible reasons”, according to ICANN., and the reasons could range from “pending change requests, clarifying questions, or follow-up with applicants regarding missing information.”

ICANN’s current plan is to have all Initial Evaluations results posted by the end of August 2013.

Food Fight

FairWinds Partners —  March 20, 2013

A few days after ICANN’s new gTLD Objection Filing period closed last Wednesday evening, the first objections are beginning to be made public. The first Legal Rights Objection posted by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the designated dispute resolution provider for this type of objection, is over the application for .DELMONTE, Domain Incite reported late last week.

The Legal Rights Objection (LRO) is one of the provisions ICANN put in place in this new gTLD application round to protect trademark holders. The idea is that if an applicant applies for a new gTLD that infringes upon an organization’s existing trademark rights, then that organization can file an LRO to assert its rights. Ultimately, if the applicant has no demonstrable rights to the term, the application can be terminated. The LRO was one of the primary reasons ICANN could assure the trademark community that cybersquatting would not occur at the top level.

But what happens when two organizations have rights to the same mark?

The dispute over .DELMONTE raises interesting issues. The organization that applied for the gTLD is a subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc., and the objector is Del Monte Corporation. Here in the U.S., we know and recognize Del Monte Corporation as the producers of canned fruits and vegetables, and as the parent company of a handful of other well-known brands. Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. makes similar products, but primarily markets them outside of the U.S. and South America. If you visit Del Monte Corporation’s corporate site at DelMonteFoods.com, you’ll notice a disclaimer at the bottom that reads, “Del Monte Foods is not affiliated with Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc., Del Monte International or their subsidiaries or affiliates. ©Del Monte Corporation.” This is because Del Monte Corporation spun off Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. in 1989. Now Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. uses the Del Monte mark under a licensing agreement.

Undoubtedly, this licensing agreement will come into play during the dispute resolution over this objection. If it turns out that Del Monte Corporation holds the trademark rights to “Del Monte” and Fresh Del Monte Produce, Inc. does not own separate rights, then we could see the .DELMONTE application tossed out.

Then again, there’s always another option: cooperation. If the two Del Monte’s have coexisted for the past 24 years, both in the global marketplace and the online world, then perhaps there is an opportunity to share the use of the .DELMOTE gTLD. So far, the .DELMONTE objection is the only one that WIPO has posted on its site, but you can bet there will be more published over the coming days and weeks.

Buzzer Beaters

FairWinds Partners —  March 12, 2013

The clock is winding down to the close of ICANN’s period to file objections against new gTLD applications. With the deadline of tomorrow, March 13 at 8:00 pm EDT looming, only one objection has been publicly posted on ICANN’s website. But will we see the floodgates open in the eleventh hour? Continue Reading…

After this weekend, many blogs are, as expected, buzzing about the commercials aired during the Super Bowl. But there is another commercial that began airing a few weeks prior to this weekend’s big game that caught our attention here at gTLD Strategy: online travel agent Booking.com’s newest “Booking.Yeah” TV spot. You can view the ad here: Continue Reading…

New Year, New ICANN?

FairWinds Partners —  February 1, 2013

The ICANN staff has had a very busy month, jetting around the globe to meet with various stakeholders, constituencies and other groups. These meetings not only bridge the long gap between the most recent Public Meeting in Toronto, which took place back in October, and the next Public Meeting in Beijing, which will be held in April, but they come at a fairly crucial time in the new gTLD process. Continue Reading…

With all the attention and fervor surrounding the gTLDs that are poised to launch as part of the New gTLD Program, it’s easy to forget that other new top-level domains have launched over the past year or so. These include .SX and .CW, the country code extensions for Sint Maarten and Curacao, and .POST, the recently delegated top-level domain sponsored by the Universal Postal Union. According to a recent post on Domain Incite, it’s not just businesses and Internet users who have overlooked these newly launched TLDs – apparently, major browsers have as well. Continue Reading…

The Google Question

FairWinds Partners —  August 7, 2012

It has remained a mystery, an object of sometimes intense speculation, basically since new gTLDs first entered into conversations about digital strategy. “Talk all you want about their potential for online branding,” many digital marketers would say. “I want to know how Google is going to treat these new domains.” Continue Reading…

Early this morning, at 7:30 AM Prague time, a group of new gTLD applicants and members of the gTLD Registries Stakeholder Group (RySG) gathered in a meeting room to adopt the charter for a new group, the New TLD Applicant Group, or NTAG. The group was established under the umbrella of the RySG; its charter was based off the RySG charter and the group will utilize RySG resources like a mailing list and an administrator who can set up conference calls. Continue Reading…