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Concerns Grow As To Whether Closed Generic TLDs Should Be Monopolised By Global Giants

With the launch of the first of the new TLDs coming later in 2013, there are growing concerns about the ability of large global businesses to monopolise the use of “closed generic” TLDs.An industry group led by Ireland’s only registrar, Blacknight, is urging the online community to take part in ICANN’s public comment period concerning these “closed generic” TLD Applications.For example, Blacknight asks is it reasonable to allow Google to monopolise “search” through their application for the .search TLD? Or should all bloggers be forced to use Blogger if they want to use theirname.blog?In recent months Blacknight has been leading the community in actively seeking clarification on pending TLD applications for broad term extensions like .blog, .music and .cloud, TLDs that would be severely restricted if monopolised by single entities that intend to use the terms solely to market their own products.Currently ICANN has a public comment period underway requesting comments regarding whether single entities may seek to operate non-trademarked generic word TLDs in a “closed” (not open to the public for registration) manner. The comment period, which opened on 5 February, will remain open until 7 March, 2013.”As longtime members of the ICANN community, we feel strongly on this issue and aim to raise community awareness of the effects of ‘closed generic’ TLDs, said Blacknight’s Michele Neylon. “We believe in an open and ‘free’ Internet and the idea of a small group of companies effectively monopolising terms that belong to all people just seems wrong.”Blacknight has expressed discontent with the possibility of closed non-trademarked key-word extensions through multiple letters to ICANN. The letters encourage ICANN to consider the adoption of a process in which applicants who wish to operate a closed TLD, meet certain, transparent criteria.According to Icann.org: “ICANN is seeking public comment on the subject of ‘closed generic’ gTLD applications and whether specific requirements should be adopted corresponding to this type of application. Stakeholder views are invited to help define and consider the issue. In particular, comments would be helpful in regard to proposed objective criteria for: classifying certain applications as ‘closed generic’ TLDs, i.e., how to determine whether a string is generic, and determining the circumstances under which a particular TLD operator should be permitted to adopt ‘open’ or ‘closed’ registration policies.”Responding to this Neylon says he “strongly urge[s] the online community to take advantage of this public comment period. Allowing companies that have no trademark claims to generic, key-terms such as ‘blog’, ‘beauty’ or ‘music’ is tantamount to granting them ownership of those words. This behaviour negates the purpose of creating a richer, more diverse Internet space. This is a slap in the face to those of us who worked so hard to help bring new TLDs into being.”The public comment period for “Closed Generic” TLD Applications is currently active and will remain open until 7 March 2013.To submit a comment, go to www.icann.org/en/news/public-comment/closed-generic-05feb13-en.htmPrevious letters from Blacknight to ICANN concerning “closed generic” TLD Applications are available at:blog.blacknight.com/letter-to-icann-clarifications-on-non-trademarked-generic-keyword-tld-are-needed.html