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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
July 30, 2009
(202) 289-8928
ICANN Should Guard Against New TLD Speculation
Palage Urges Safeguards and Consultation With Trademark Community

WASHINGTON D.C. - The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) should ensure that its proposed top-level domain application process guards against "front running" by speculators, states Michael Palage in "New gTLDs: Let the Gaming Begin, Part I: TLD Front Running," released today by The Progress & Freedom Foundation.  The paper is the first in a series of commentaries identifying unresolved issues surrounding ICANN’s proposed implementation of new top-level domains (TLDs).

In the paper, PFF Adjunct Fellow Palage raises concerns over the actions of certain prospective TLD applicants filing national trademark applications associated with generic TLD strings such as .MUSIC, .MOVIE, .BLOG, etc. This type of "front running" by prospective applicants trying to game the process potentially interferes with other legitimate applications. The failure of ICANN to address this problem "may jeopardize ICANN's core function: maintaining the global interoperability of a unique root," he explains.  Specifically, trademark owners who are unable to secure a particular TLD string may seek to have the courts direct the root server's operator to remove the disputed string.

Palage suggests that ICANN should proactively address the "front running" issue by taking the following three steps:

  • In consultation with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the Government Advisory Committee (GAC), there needs to be increased global awareness of these issues among national trademark offices as well as trademark practitioners.
  • The global trademark community needs to engage in a constructive dialog regarding these issues in appropriate international fora. 
  • Following these consultations, ICANN staff should make appropriate changes to the Draft Applicant Guidebook and the proposed registry template agreement to address these issues, and seek public consultation before finalizing the Applicant Guidebook.

"New gTLDs: Let the Gaming Begin, Part I: TLD Front Running" is available on the PFF website.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation