Monday, August 17, 2015

Country names for .BRAND new gTLDs : here I come

Many .BRAND new gTLD agreements could not be signed in due time with ICANN for different reasons (IP department requested more info to ICANN, applicant forgot the ICANN deadline, applicant could not signed due to a problem with law in his country, etc…). If so many contracts are being signed now, what is coming next with all these .BRAND new domain name extensions and is there a “but” somewhere?

I noticed recent Trademarks signed their new gTLD contract with ICANN. Some pioneers have already started to deploy their domain names and I believe the future should be interesting on how these are used.

A few recent .BRAND new gTLDs caught my attention and I see a lot of interest for them to be able to register domainnames such as "country.brand" ("country" could be any country name such as "brazil" and "brand" could be any of the brands below in this list:
  • Fedex
  • Total
  • AlfaRomeo
  • Maserati
  • Airbus (I am a serious fan of Airbus)
For many of these new gTLDs, I believe it would make sense to allow the registration of city and country as second level domains: understand that it would make sense to allow the registration of domain names such as:
  • (www.)france.brand
  • polska.brand
  • www.paris.brand or
  • roma.brand
Here comes the “but”
Unfortunately, the new gTLd applicant guidebook is very clear about that option and here is what is says. If many applicants requested an “digit/digit, letter/digit and digit/letter two character ASCII labels at the second level”, nothing was requested in regard to country and city names. If I am not sure I understand the reason of requesting about numbers, I do not understand why no Brand is not more pushy regarding country and city names. Here is what the authorization says regarding the release of all digit/digit, letter/digit and digit/letter 2 character ASCII labels at the second level:
Effective 01 December 2014, pursuant to Section 2 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement and subject to compliance with all other terms of the agreement applicable to each individual TLD, ICANN authorizes all new gTLD registries to release all digit/digit, digit/letter and letter/digit two-character ASCII labels for registration to third parties and activation in the DNS at the second level; for the absence of doubt, the aforementioned labels are listed in Appendix 1”.
But...what about Country Names? (ie: www.france.BRAND)
The specification 5 (page 46 of the new gTLD applicant guidebook) says:
"The country and territory names contained in the following internationally recognized lists shall be initially reserved at the second level and at all other levels within the TLD at which the Registry Operator provides for registrations:
  1. the short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, (I changed the link: the one in the new gTLD applicant guidebook points to an error) as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO 3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union;
  2. the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World; and
  3. the list of United Nations member states in 6 official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names;
provided, that the reservation of specific country and territory names may be released to the extent that Registry Operator reaches agreement with the applicable government(s), provided, further, that Registry Operator may also propose release of these reservations, subject to review by ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN".
In regard of what is written above, the answer to registering a country name as second level domain in a .BRAND new gTLD is : "no".

What could .BRANDs do if they can’t use country names?
Well, as you can expect, ICANN is a very open "not for profit organization" when it comes to asking for something...that can help business grow. Just like two number domains were finaly allowed to be sold for certain Registries, Country names should soon be open too but under certain conditions.

The document after is established to “facilitate notification of registry requests for release of country and territory names”: it does not explain the complete process to register a country name as a domain name but...if this document was published...well...why would the GAC publish it if it was not to allow the registration of country names as second level domains?

The GAC explains
The Governmental Advisory Committee just published the country requirements for notification of requests for release of country/territory names as second-level domains in new gTLDs. Understand that if it is not yet possible for a .BRAND new gTLD to register a www.country name.BRAND, it could soon be possible: the table provides the respective country’s requirements for notification of requests for country names according to each country.

My understanding
As I understand this document, a country like Belgium will require no notification for brand TLDs to register a domain name such as belgium.BRAND (or www.belgium.BRAND) and Ireland will require absolutely no notification from any kind of Registry to register a domain name like ireland.consulting (or www.ireland.consulting). A country like Australia will require a notification for all requests. French must still be on holidays since they do not yet appear on that list ;-)

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