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3/23/06

ICANN = ICAN'T

You know, being on the mailing list for the GNSO and listing or reading all the bs that ICANN puts out to the general public is sometimes tiresome, sometimes frustrating, and at other times just simply aggravating.

Then to watch news sources repeat what ICANN told them without doing any investigating on their own is even worse. ICANN does press release. All media repeats press release. What ever happened to the days when there were actual journalists?

Anyway, I'm going to include some excerpts here from an ICANN document about the release of new TLDs and comment on sections of it to tell you what is really going on.

"In November 2000, the Board of Directors of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) selected seven proposals for new top-level domains (gTLDs): .aero, .biz, .coop, .info, .museum, .name and .pro. This was the first effort to expand the domain name system (DNS) since the 1980s, other than by adding "country code top-level domains" that correspond to particular countries or territories."
Out of all of the possible TLDs in all the possible languages, an infinite number of new TLDs were possible, yet ICANN in their infinite wisdom chose .museum and .aero and .coop to be the best TLDs they could introduce.

How many BETTER TLDs can you name right now off the top of your head? Nuff said.

"The new gTLD start-up periods proved generally effective at protecting the interests of trademark holders, but suffered from other problems."
Nowhere in the MOU that created ICANN does it say they should even be concerned about trademark protection. They are not part of the USPTO and domain names were never meant to correspond with Trademarks.

That doesn't mean you should be able to run out and register someone's trademarked company name. That could be handled in the court system just fine. They can sue you.

However, it is not ICANN's job! Yet, it is the first thing they brag about doing so well here. Again, they brag about doing something that is not in their MOU or bylaws or Mission Statement.

This proves that IP interests like large corporations have gained control of what is supposed to be a nonprofit technical body and turned it into a vehicle to protect their Intellectual Property.

"Looking to the future, these experiences suggest several options: (i) a Sunrise period that verifies registrations by use of online databases and other means in a cost-effective manner; (ii) notice to prospective registrants and trademark holders of their respective claims prior to adjudication, perhaps on the basis of the familiar UDRP rather than the new "STOP" procedure .biz used; or (iii) reliance on UDRP alone, as simpler and appropriate given that trademark registrations may constitute only 2 - 3% of all registrations."
Again, it is not ICANN's job to defend trademarks. Not only that, but this statement reflects the belief that a trademark holder has the right to, and is expected to re-register their name in every new TLD that gets launched.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Trademarks are registered in specific classes. Several companies have registered trademarks that include the exact same string of letters, but they are registered in different classes, and then sometimes only for a specific geographic region, allowing other companies in other geographic regions the right to register a mark in their area for the exact same string of letters.

Take Apple Computers and Apple Records for instance. The whole idea behind new TLDs is to give OTHER companies with a legitimate use or trademark to also be able to register their name is some TLD. If Apple Computers got Apple.com, then when a new TLD is launched, Apple Records could get Apple.something.

ICANN is illegally helping a small number of companies monopolize certain strings of letters so no one else, even other trademark holders, can have them. But then, just look at the ICANN-Verisign agreement and you will see that ICANN favors monopolies anyway.

"The process .info and .biz used to allocate names – called a "round robin" -- was criticized for enabling manipulation of the system. Some registrars kept their list of desired names short and offered coveted slots to their best customers. Others used registrars they controlled to do the same, while they opened their own lists to the general public. (Initial efforts by .biz to design an alternative distribution system for led a court to determine it would have constituted an illegal lottery.) The .name registry sought to eliminate the advantage of submitting shorter lists by using random batch processing, but that did not prevent registrants from submitting duplicate requests through multiple registrars. Admittedly, the dilemma of how best to allocate names does not have an easy solution. Other options include first-come, first-served; auctions; and reverse Dutch auctions. The most appropriate method depends to a great extent on which underlying values should be given priority. It also depends on which entity should benefit from the monetary rewards that certain names generate. Both subjects require more discussion within the ICANN community."
This is not much different than insider trading. Maybe the SEC should be involved anytime a new TLD is launched, because it is obvious ICANN can't do the job it was created to do.

As far as more discussion withiin the ICANN community, let me define that for you in ICANN terms. That means the ICANN BoD will discuss with it's favorite coporate buddies how best to spin their illegal dealings so they sound beneficial to the public and to the DoC.

The ICANN community used to include the General Assembly which was made up of individual users of the Internet. ICANN closed that down because the general public was causing them too much trouble. They are supposed to act with a bottom-up consensus that includes public comment. But as soon as they saw the public wasn't swallowing the bs they put out there, they shut it down in violation of their own bylaws.

They also shut down the DNSO working groups, of which I also personally participated in. That group also made recommendations that were not in the best interests of the corporations like verisign.

Now they have the GNSO, which basically just signs off on whatever the ICANN BoD wants to do. Now they are happy. This organization will not be shut down.

"The new gTLDs have introduced some competition, but how much is debatable. Examining market share, extent of actual choice and price elasticity suggests that impact has been minimal. Other evidence, however, indicates that TLD expansion has attracted about 20% new registrants and led to new uses among 40 – 60% of registrants. The most significant contribution has been the development of facilities-based competition. As a result, new providers of registry services have been able to compete effectively with the incumbent registry, VeriSign, on that basis. Innovation has played a supporting role, and may become increasingly important as the three largest registries work to distinguish themselves from one another."
Now if that isn't a crock of %^&*. Dot Com still has NO effective competition because the choices of new TLDs that have been introduced are not worth mentioning. dots aero, biz, museum, name? Those are supposed to compete with dot com? Give me a break.

Now if you can't see it right in front of you, let me spell it out. ICANN gives Verisign a monopoly on dot com through their recent agreement. It includes the ability to raise prices without raising any levels of service. ICANN makes sure no TLD gets launched that might actually have a chance of competing with dot com.

Sound like collusion to you? Look at the evidence then you decide. Out of all the possible TLDs that people might really want to have, look at the ones that ICANN has introduced and look at some of those they have blocked. dots web, kid, xxx, and all of the other ideas they have rejected like creating a TLD for every class so they match trademark classes, which would protect trademark holders while giving everyone with a mark a chance to register their name.

They have rejected creating hundreds of TLDs because they say it threatens the stability of the Internet. What they really mean is that it would threaten the stability of verisign's bottom line. Other roots exist. They have hundreds of tlds. They have less budget than ICANN. Yet those roots are very stable and have no problems. There is proof that the technical stability of the Internet is not threatened by the introduction of new tlds.

And that technical reason is ALL ICANN is supposed to be the authority for. Trademarks are not their responsibility. Verisign's stock prices are not their responsibility.

"Launching a new gTLD is not for the faint of heart. The experiences of the six that have done it already, and the wisdom the community as a whole as gained, should provide valuable assistance to those TLDs that follow."
Yeah, it's not for the faint of heart, it's for the faint of mind if you believe ICANN has the interest of users in mind when making any of their decisions. And again, as far as when they say community, that doesn't include you or I. It doesn't include individual users of the Internet. That community doesn't include small business owners of domain names.

The community ICANN is talking about is a handful of corporations that have control of the board of directors.

This is not from a brand new document. This just brings the recent verisign deal into context for you. You can read the whole statement from ICANN here.

by Chris McElroy AKA NameCritic
More things that just piss me off


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