Amazon has suffered a backlash from US book publishing organisations and Barnes & Noble, and now it’s Google’s turn. A consortium of tech companies under the umbrella of FairSearch has now complained about a number of Google’s applications for top level domains.The group recently filed objections to Google’s request to control new the TLDs .search, .fly and .map – telling ICANN that accepting Google’s application will enable the dominant search provider to “gain an unfair competitive advantage against other members of this community through the improper grant of a perpetual monopoly of generic industry terms to a single company.”FairSearch includes TripAdvisor, Expedia, Nokia, Microsoft and Oracle as members and has been established to counter what they perceive as Google’s dominant search position.The group claims Google has already established a dominant position in the search market – with control of 79 percent of queries in the U.S., and more than 90 percent market share in Europe. FairSearch says Google doesn’t need more help in warding off potential competitors by giving it control over who gets access to new domain names. And, they warn, it’s possible that Google could access the data that flows over any other website who asks to register under a gTLD owned by Google, giving it even greater advantage over all other companies on the internet.FairSearch asks that if Google really believes that competition is always one click away, why did it apply to operate a new .search gTLD as a closed registry? This means that only those web properties owned by Google could have a .search web address.”The .search application demonstrates that Google intends to exclude all others in the Industry from using common generic industry terms for its business,” FairSearch argues in its objection.”Google’s applications for .search, .map and .fly are particularly concerning given the company’s market power and preferential treatment of its own search, map and online travel services.”Uncontested and unmonitored ownership of these gTLDs will only further strengthen Google’s dominant market power, which it uses to steer users to Google’s own product sites by prominently displaying its own products on its homepage, a practice often referred to as ‘search bias.'”ICANN should reject Google’s attempt to control an even greater share of the Internet through acquiring the new generic top-level domains for “.search,” “.fly,” and “.map.” The dominant search provider already exerts too much power to steer consumers to Google sites that strengthen its control over Internet traffic, rather than to websites with the information most relevant to consumers’ interests.”
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
An Internet Governance Forum is coming to the Australian capital of Canberra in October with the goal of bringing government, industry and community members together in an open, apolitical forum, to discuss Internet-related policy issues, exchange ideas and best practices, and help shape the future of the internet in Australia.Hot topics for the inaugural auIGF down under include security, the IGF landscape, openness, privacy and access and digital inclusion. The latter is an issue in Australia due to the difficulty in getting remote and regional communities online and engaged, as well as people of lower socio-economic backgrounds along with people with disabilities.There will also be a number of interactive, community-led workshops, investigating specific internet policy issues in greater depth.”The Internet was built with a spirit of openness, collaboration and accessibility”, said Chris Disspain, CEO of .au Domain Administration Ltd (auDA) in a statement. “In establishing the auIGF, we aim to embrace these principles and provide a mechanism to ensure Australians have a prominent and well-informed voice in Internet discussions.”Speakers lined up come from both Australia and New Zealand and include representatives from Facebook, Google and the Australian Privacy Commissioner.The auIGF is coordinated by a number of prominent industry stakeholders, including auDA, the Internet Industry Association (IIA), the Australian Communication Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), the Australian chapter of the Internet Society (ISOC-AU) and the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC). It also has the support of the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and corporate partners including Google, Facebook, AusRegistry and Maddocks.”The collaborative nature, timing and agenda of this forum is strongly supported by the IIA”, said Peter Lee CEO of IIA. “Given the significant focus on issues such as security, privacy and convergence in a digital world, it’s important to facilitate open discussion of those issues with all stakeholders.””Access to the Internet is essential for participation in today’s society across a range of areas including employment, community, education and access to services”, noted ACCAN CEO, Teresa Corbin. “The auIGF will be an excellent opportunity to share experiences and strategies aimed to promote digital inclusion, to ensure that everyone reaps the benefits of a connected society.””Given the importance of the Internet to the Australian economy, forums such as the auIGF are vital in facilitating policy discussions that promote the continued expansion and innovation of the Internet”, added Adrian Kinderis, CEO of AusRegistry. “The open, participatory, multi-stakeholder model has made the Internet a successful driver of social and economic growth and this is set to continue in Australia under the guidance of the auIGF.”The outcomes of the auIGF will help influence domestic policy and decision-making and will be fed into international policy processes including the UN’s World Conference on International Telecommunications and the 2012 IGF in Baku, Azerbaijan.”The IGF format has proven to be influential in global decision-making – both as a reference point and a repository of essential information that should be considered in policy-making processes” said Paul Wilson, Director-General of APNIC. “I invite all stakeholders to show their support for this model, both through the auIGF and other national and regional initiatives that will feed into the global dialogue.”For more information or to register ($50 per person) for the auIGF, check out the website at igf.org.au.
Three domain names were seized as part of an enforcement action taken by the FBI to prevent the infringement of copyrighted mobile device apps. It was the first time domains involving mobile phone app marketplaces have been seized.Seizure orders were executed against the three domain names engaged as they were involved in the illegal distribution of copies of copyrighted Android cell phone apps, Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates of the Northern District of Georgia and Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office announced. The operation was coordinated with international law enforcement, including Dutch and French law enforcement officials.The three seized domain names – applanet.net, appbucket.net and snappzmarket.com – are in the custody of the federal government. Visitors to the sites will now find a seizure banner that notifies them that the domain name has been seized by federal authorities and educates them that wilful copyright infringement is a federal crime.”Cracking down on piracy of copyrighted works – including popular apps – is a top priority of the Criminal Division,” said Assistant Attorney General Breuer. “Software apps have become an increasingly essential part of our nation’s economy and creative culture, and the Criminal Division is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect the creators of these apps and other forms of intellectual property from those who seek to steal it.””Criminal copyright laws apply to apps for cell phones and tablets, just as they do to other software, music and writings. These laws protect and encourage the hard work and ingenuity of software developers entering this growing and important part of our economy. We will continue to seize and shut down websites that market pirated apps, and to pursue those responsible for criminal charges if appropriate,” said U.S. Attorney Yates.”The theft of intellectual property, particularly within the cyber arena, is a growing problem and one that cannot be ignored by the U.S government’s law enforcement community. These thefts cost companies millions of dollars and can even inhibit the development and implementation of new ideas and applications. The FBI, in working with its various corporate and government partners, is not only committed to combating such thefts but is well poised to coordinate with the many jurisdictions that are impacted by such activities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Lamkin.During the operation, FBI agents downloaded thousands of copies of popular copyrighted mobile device apps from the alternative online markets suspected of distributing copies of apps without permission from the software developers who would otherwise sell copies of the apps on legitimate online markets for a fee. In most cases, the servers storing the apps sold by these alternative online markets were being hosted in other countries, and our international law enforcement partners assisted in obtaining or seizing evidence stored on these servers. Nine search warrants were also executed in six different districts across the country today as part of the operation.The operation reflects a coordinated effort by the Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the Office of International Affairs; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia; the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office; and six other U.S. Attorney’s Offices, including the Southern District of Mississippi, the Middle District of Florida, the Western District of Michigan, the Southern District of Indiana, the District of Rhode Island and the Northern District of Texas.The FBI is a full partner at the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center (IPR Center). The IPR Center is one of the U.S. government’s key weapons in the fight against criminal counterfeiting and piracy. The IPR Center uses the expertise of its 19 member agencies to share information, develop initiatives, coordinate enforcement actions and conduct investigations related to intellectual property (IP) theft. Through this strategic interagency partnership, the IPR Center protects the public’s health and safety, the U.S. economy and the war fighters. To report IP theft or to learn more about the IPR Center, visit www.IPRCenter.gov.The enforcement actions announced today are one of many efforts being undertaken by the Department of Justice Task Force on Intellectual Property (IP Task Force). Attorney General Eric Holder created the IP Task Force to combat the growing number of domestic and international intellectual property crimes, protect the health and safety of American consumers, and safeguard the nation’s economic security against those who seek to profit illegally from American creativity, innovation and hard work. The IP Task Force seeks to strengthen intellectual property rights protection through heightened criminal and civil enforcement, greater coordination among federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and increased focus on international enforcement efforts, including reinforcing relationships with key foreign partners and U.S. industry leaders. To learn more about the IP Task Force, go to www.justice.gov/dag/iptaskforce/.
A new roadmap for new generic Top Level Domains will be released by 6 August the board of directorsâ New gTLD Program Committee said in a report, Domain Incite reported.
The report also provides some more information on how the 1930 gTLD applications will be processed âtheyâre being grouped by applicant and/or by back-end registry provider, in an attempt to create efficienciesâ the Domain Incite report says with evaluators eventually being able to process 300 applications per month.
Meanwhile someone is out to get Donuts with a number of complaints about applications by the applicant for over 300 gTLDs. The comments relate to one of the companyâs original directors who Domain Incite reports âseems to own several domain names containing Disney and Olympics trademarks.â
Itâs not going to be easy for some of the smaller organisations who are part of a tussle for a gTLD. One is .GREEN with four applications, and one of the applicants, the DotGreen Community, have written to the GAC, and according to another Domain Incite report, âDotGreen does everything but ask outright for the GAC to object to its three competitorsâ .GREEN applications.â
Meanwhile in an opinion piece, The Guardian asks if .ECO could be âforce for environmental changeâ and then whether âwill .ECO improve corporate sustainability performance or become the digital version of corporate greenwash?â
The article by an expert in CSR says âof the four applicants to run .ECO, one commercial applicant has applied to run a total of 306 domain names and another 91. I think it is safe to say they are in it for the money.â But the author singles out one application as being different â that one is a community bid convened by Vancouver-based Big Room. âThe doteco.org community bid has been put together after an exhaustive five-year process of consultation and policy development with stakeholders from the environmental and sustainability community including over 50 international groups such as Greenpeace International and WBCSD.â
There are a number of changes being introduced as part of Verisignâs registry-registrar agreement for .COM which coincide with the new registry agreement Verisign recently signed with ICANN. One of the changes that has raised some concerns among its registrar channel is the requirement for â24/7 support for customers whose .com domains have been hijacked,â Domain Incite reports. The change is of concern to some of the smaller registrars who may not be able to provide such support.
The number of objectors to new gTLD applications have now surpassed applications, Domain Incite notes, with a rundown on who some of the objectors are and why they are objecting. Highlighted are objections by Save the Children (who is objecting to all four .HEALTH applications), International Olympics Committee (objecting to .SPORT applications it does not support) and Lego Juris (who has lodged complaints over about 80 applications).
And in the last Domain Incite report in todayâs Daily Wrap, âICANN director Judith Vasquez applied for a new gTLD but then withdrew the bid at the last minute.â
There were 8.73 million domain names registered in China at the end of June with 3.98 million of these being .CN domains, the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) said on Monday according to a report in the Global Times.
The report noted that the number of websites using .CN was up 460,000 in the first half of 2012, making this the fastest biannual growth since 2008 according to the CNNIC.
And in Russia Google is disputing the registration of a couple of domain names. âThe Moscow Commercial Court has turned down Google Inc’s motion to speed up the review of its complaint against Weblink Ltd regarding its use of Googl.Ru and Gugl.Ru domain names as the expert appraisal currently underway makes this impossible, the court told the Russian Legal Information Agency,â according to a report by the Russian Legal Information Agency.
A dispute involving Google and the control of the Gmail trademark and related domain name in Germany is over with Google obtaining control of both, according to an IDG report.The dispute came about following the introduction of Gmail in 2004 and companies in the UK and Germany that had already trademarked the brand. This forced Google to name the service Googlemail in both countries.”The UK case was settled in 2010,” IDG reported “but the German case dragged on until the ‘Gmail’ trademark was transferred from the German company G-mail GmbH to Google last Friday, according to a transfer filing posted by the German Patent and Trademark Office (DPMA).””The legal conflicts around the use of the trademark Gmail and respective domains in Germany are terminated,” Google spokesman Mark Jansen said in an email to IDG.To read the IDG report in full, see:
Anyone wishing to apply for a Top Level Domain and has not yet got their application needs to get their skates on. Applications close today (12 April) at 23:59 UTC.With most predictions around the 1500 mark for applications, and around two-thirds of these predicted to be brand names, there are likely to be a lot of brand names playing their cards close to their chests and not wanting their competitors to know what they are up to.To date there have been few brand names to out themselves as applicants. But last week Google indicated it would be applying for TLDs relating to brand names it has, so it is most likely there will be a .GOOGLE and .YOUTUBE at least.Other brand names to apply include Unicef, Hitachi, Canon, the Australian ISP iinet and the Australian Football League. But most of those to announce TLDs they will be applying for are community groups with applications likely for .MUSIC, .GREEN, .ECO, .SPORT and many others as well as many city and regional names such as .LONDON, .SYDNEY, .BERLIN, .PARIS, .MELBOURNE, .NYC and again, many others.
Google will be applying for several TLDs for a number of their trademarks a company spokesperson told Ad Age, while Facebook and Pepsi both said they will not be applying.”We plan to apply for Google’s trademarked TLDs, as well as a handful of new ones,” a company spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Ad Age. “We want to help make this a smooth experience for web users — one that promotes innovation and competition on the internet.”More details were not provided, but as the report notes, expect applications for .Google and .YouTube, among others.The report also notes, and which has previously been reported, that Deloitte will also be applying for a TLD, along with Canon. But few other companies contacted by Ad Age would comment on their plans, with even those that are applying most likely not wanting to tip off their competitors.Brand names that told Ad Age they will not be applying include Facebook and Pepsi.The costs of acquiring and operating a TLD were reasons given for not applying for a TLD by Shiv Singh, global head of digital at Pepsi. Singh also told Ad Age he believed consumers’ browsing habits will take years to alter.”Consumers are always going to think about first going to MountainDew.com or Pepsi.com before they think about Drink.Pepsi,” Mr. Singh said. “And that’s not going to change anytime soon, and maybe not for a few years.”To read the Ad Age report in full, see:
Internet freedom and innovation are at risk of being stifled by a new United Nations treaty that aims to bring in more regulation, Googleâs executive chairman Eric Schmidt warned in a question-and-answer session at Mobile World Congress 2012 reported ZDNet.
According to the ZDNet report, Schmidt said handing over control of things such as naming and DNS to the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) would divide the internet, allowing it to be further broken into pieces regulated in different ways.
“That would be a disaster… To some, the openness and interoperability is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in our lifetime. Do not give that up easily. You will regret it. You will hate it, because all of a sudden all that freedom, all that flexibility, you’ll find it shipped away for one good reason after another,” Schmidt said.
“I cannot be more emphatic. Be very, very careful about moves which seem logical, but have the effect of balkanising the internet,” he added, urging everyone to strongly resist the moves.
To read the ZDNet report in full, see:
Google has acquired the domain name g.co that will only link to official Google products and services.The domain name acquisition in itself is not much news, but it is further evidence that premium domain names are very important in a company’s branding.”The shorter a URL, the easier it is to share and remember,” writes Gary Briggs, Google VP of Consumer Marketing. “The downside is, you often can’t tell what website you’re going to be redirected to. We’ll only use g.co to send you to webpages that are owned by Google, and only we can create g.co shortcuts. That means you can visit a g.co shortcut confident you will always end up at a page for a Google product or service.”It is likely Google paid well into seven figures for the domain name with Domain Incite reporting that they believe the starting price for single character domains believed to be $1.5 million.Other high profile .CO acquisitions include Overstock paying $350,000 for o.co, which it uses to rebrand the company internationally, while Amazon bought a.co, z.co, k.co and cloud.co. Additionally, Twitter acquired t.co for its URL shortening service.Google will continue to use goo.gl as their public URL shortener that anyone will still be able to shorten URLs across the web.The acquisition is also a coup for the .CO ccTLD and will help boost awareness of .CO that now has over one million registrations in less than a year.