ICANN Tells POLITICO On Closed Generic gTLD’s: “The Train is Leaving the Station”

Politico has posted about the new gTLD closed generic controversy asking “should a company be allowed to run a generic term such as tire, insurance or book as a domain and wall off its use from competitors?”

In response, Akram Atallah, ICANN’s chief operating officer, told POLITICO “The train is leaving the station,”

“There are a few instances where stakeholders are feeling this is an issue that could limit competition, and therefore, we should bring it to the forefront.”Philip Corwin, founding principal of Virtualaw, who has one client competing with Google for some of the terms, said he will begin to lobby officials in Washington and Europe. “It is emerging as a big issue and one that is beyond ICANN but the future of e-commerce,” he said.”
“Atallah said that having a generic term is not a guaranteed ticket to success”.”The owner has to “do a lot of marketing and business development to be relevant in the marketplace,”

“It is not a given just by having the name, you have market share. ”

“It is not just the name that makes the name”.

I find that an interesting statement from one of the heads of the orgazation which took in a 1/3 of a billion of dollars in application fees, well just for the “name”.

As we have pointed out repeatedly ICANN could have and should have dealt with this issue as part of the multiyear discussion on the new gTLD program and in the many versions of the Guidebook itself.

It is should have one of the basic issues of the program whether one company would be allowed to operate a generic extension on a closed basis and thereby own the vertical.

While we don’t think its a good idea to allow it, the lawyer side of my brain tells me that issue should have been discussed and decided before ICANN started to accept applications and $185,000 in fees per application.








  1. says

    I feel sooner of later there will be Congressional hearings…
    Yet another delay and as a “dot com die hard” I don’t see this as good news for the “domain market” as a whole, in a way the uncertainty and confusion about some of the issues such as this is keeping the money in the sidelines.
    I find Akram Atallah’ comments pretty arrogant.

  2. L. Asher Corson says

    It seems that Mr. Atallah has already made up his mind. It’s a good thing we are going through another “public comment” process. That way, ICANN can claim the cover it needs to give away closed generic strings. Competition my AS$!

  3. says

    Micahel — I personally believe that ICANN has decided this issue, and the question now is whether they will enforce the existing policy.

    The standard registry Code of Conduct states:
    1. In connection with the operation of the registry for the TLD, Registry Operator will not, and will not allow any parent, subsidiary, Affiliate, subcontractor or other related entity, to the extent such party is engaged in the provision of Registry Services with respect to the TLD to:

    b. register domain names in its own right, except for names registered through an ICANN accredited registrar that are reasonably necessary for the management, operations and purpose of the TLD

    Exemptions to the COC can be granted subject to this clause:
    6. Registry Operator may request an exemption to this Code of Conduct, and such exemption may be granted by ICANN in ICANN’s reasonable discretion, if Registry Operator demonstrates to ICANN’s reasonable satisfaction that (i) all domain name registrations in the TLD are registered to, and maintained by, Registry Operator for its own exclusive use, (ii) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registrations in the TLD to any third party that is not an Affiliate of Registry Operator, and (iii) application of this Code of Conduct to the TLD is not necessary to protect the public interest.

    Unless you believe that the general prohibition against the registry operator registering domains for its own use can be avoided by declaring that the “purpose” of the gTLD is to exclude current and prospective competitors (a classic example of the exception swallowing the rule) then an exemption must be sought.

    The exemption provision, meant to accommodate .brand applications, contains a public interest standard — so the applicant would have to make the case that its anti-competitive intent serves the public interest. For example, Google would have to make the case that a closed .search in whiuch Google is the only registrant is in the public interest. Good luck with that.

    For ICANN to find closed generics to be in the public interest would be at sharp variance with its claimed goals for the new gTLD program — fostering competition and innovation — as well as specific provisions of the Affirmation of Commitments.

  4. says

    RE : ” For ICANN to find closed generics to be in the public interest would be at sharp variance with its claimed goals for the new gTLD program — fostering competition and innovation — as well as specific provisions of the Affirmation of Commitments.”

    The Corporate .COM Holder (Rise Against The Machine) Here We Come !

    PHIL you Crushed It !

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  5. says


    ICANN says the Code of Conduct doesn’t apply.

    “Many of the communications link the issue of registration restrictions for a TLD with the Code of Conduct (Specification 9 to the gTLD Registry Agreement). However, it should be clarified that the Code of Conduct refers to registry-registrar interactions, rather than eligibility for registering names in the TLD. Rather than the Code of Conduct, the true issue of concern being expressed appears to be that in certain applications, the proposed registration policies are deemed inappropriate by some parties.”

    from the page:


    I agree with your points though. Similar arguments are made in the petition letter to ICANN.


    Please continue the fight against closed generics.

  6. says

    Hello MHB,

    RE : ” I agree with your points though. Similar arguments are made in the petition letter to ICANN.

    We see many more Corporate heavyweights besides Microsoft weighing in on this with petitions.

    The corporate .COM Boardrooms are sensing another Scroogling coming and they are not happy.

    I still think WTO is going to get more involved, International concerns just may fight to take over ICANN , ICANN knows this bull in China shop attitude of theirs needs to be tempered PRONTO !

    I would not be surprised to see Google drop out ??

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

  7. Dave Tyrer says

    ICANN appears to have abandoned its own oft-stated high ethical principles and even its agreement with the United States Department of Commerce.
    Here is an excerpt from ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments with DOC:

    “3. This document affirms key commitments by DOC and ICANN, including commitments to:… (c) promote competition, consumer trust, and consumer choice in the DNS marketplace”

    That’s pretty unmistakable – “PROMOTE COMPETITION” and “CONSUMER CHOICE”.
    And an excerpt from ICANN’s official website:

    “ICANN developed the New generic Top-Level Domain Program to increase competition and choice by introducing new gTLDs into the Internet’s addressing system.”

    No mistaking that – “INCREASE COMPETITION AND CHOICE.”
    Now compare ICANN’s claims to Amazon’s applications for the .store and .shop domain strings:

    “.STORE will be a single entity registry, with all domains registered to Amazon for use in pursuit of Amazon’s business goals. There will be no re-sellers in .STORE and there will be no market in .STORE domains. Amazon will strictly control the use of .STORE domains.”

    “The single entity registry status of .SHOP and the fact that it will only be available to internal registrants at Amazon EU S.à r.l. and Amazon EU S.à r.l.’s Affiliates minimizes the potential for abuse in the TLD. There will be no resellers of .SHOP domains and there will be no market in .SHOP domains.”

    I’d really like to hear someone explain how this will “PROMOTE COMPETITION” and “CONSUMER CHOICE”.
    @ Phil Corwin: “For example, Google would have to make the case that a closed .search in which Google is the only registrant is in the public interest.”

    Google has already anticipated that conundrum. Here is an edited excerpt from their actual application for the .SEARCH string:

    “Charleston Road Registry intends to operate the proposed gTLD as a closed registry with Google as the sole registrar and registrant… This will promote competition in the gTLD space by inciting competitors to respond with improved gTLD operations, greater range and higher quality products and services, and/or the creation of their own respective gTLDs, to the benefit of all Internet users.”

    Google is kindly letting us know that by being allowed to operate the .SEARCH string as a walled extension with competitors locked out, it will actually “promote competition” by “inciting competitors to respond with improved gTLD operations.”

    As you can see clearly from that helpful explanation, that’s “in the public interest” and “to the benefit of all Internet users!”
    The contradiction between ICANN’s claimed principles versus the realities of many actual string applications on this issue could hardly be more stark. I’ve placed a page with more examples at SuperMonopolies.com:

    I signed and recommend the important Change.org petition organized by Tom Gilles mentioned above by NewgTLDsite:


  8. says

    Hello MHB,

    I along with Phil Corwin and many others believe this gTLD power Grab is the most devicive and anti competitive contrivance to possibly enter the e-commerce landscape. If this program ever gets launched I believe it will be the target of many Corporate smack down Litigations. It has been poorly concieved and structured by self limiting interests and will most definitely be used for manipulating consumers IF LAUNCHED ?

    Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)

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