ICANN Seeks Comment on “Closed Generic” Top Level Domains

ICANN has recently opened a public comment period on the issue of “closed generic” applications under its new gTLD process.  The original application process for new gTLDs was silent on the issue of whether a trademark holder should be granted rights to run a closed registry for a generic character string that may be very significant in the marketplace e.g “.shop”, “.free”. “.store”.  Several markholders (notably Google and Amazon) have spent a lot of money applying for these kinds of gTLDs to run as closed registries, meaning that they would not allow anyone else to register second level domains within those domain spaces.  They argue that they have innovative marketing plans for those domain spaces that would be compromised if they were obliged to allow competitors and others to operate within the domain spaces.  Their competitors and others argue that the Internet should be open and free and that while there are good arguments for “.trademark” names to be run as closed registries, the same should not apply for more generic terms as gTLDs.  If anyone is interested in commenting on this issue, the public comment period runs until March 7 and the instructions are here.