Attorneys at Law
Greggory B. Mendenhall
212-973-8155 Direct Dial
Internet Address: email@example.com
140 Broadway, Suite 3100
New York, New York 10005
(212) 973-8000 (212) 972-8798 FAX
December 15, 2000
VIA ELECTRONIC MAIL TO:
Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers
4676 Admiralty Way, Suite 330
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
United States of America
Application for .travel TLD;
Request for Reconsideration
Dear Sir or Madam:
Pursuant to Article III, 4 of the By-Laws of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), and the ICANN "Reconsideration Policy," the International Air Transportation Association (IATA), by its undersigned counsel, respectfully requests that ICANN reconsider its decision announced on November 16, 2000 not to grant IATA's application to sponsor the .travel TLD.
As set forth below, the basis for this request is the requirement that ICANN's decision on the selection of new TLDs comply with the U.S. Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. 553 et seq. (APA). IATA submits that the APA is applicable to this decision, notwithstanding ICANN's status as a California non-profit corporation, because ICANN, inter alia: 1) was created at the request of the U.S. Government; 2) serves at the pleasure of the U.S. Government; and 3) is performing a government policy-making function -- namely, deciding whether to add a TLD to the authoritative, or "A," root server -- that directly affects a critical public asset that has been financed by the U.S. Government, and remains subject to the ultimate control of the U.S. Government. See Lebron v. National Rail Passenger Corp., 513 U.S. 374 (1995) ("That Government -created and controlled corporations are . . . part of the Government itself has a strong basis, not merely in past practice and understanding, but in reason itself"); Independent Bankers Ass'n v. National Credit Union Admin., 936 F. Supp. 605, 615 (W.D. Wis. 1996) ("For purposes of the APA, an entity comes within the definition [of agency] if it has the authority to act with the sanction of the government. The form the entity takes or the function it performs are not determinative"); Lee Construction Co. v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, 558 F. Supp. 165, 179 (D. Md. 1982) (agencies include entities delegated substantial decision-making authority in the exercise of specific functions); W.B. Fishburn Cleaners, Inc. v. Army & Air Force Exchange Service, 374 F. Supp. 162, 164 (1974) (an entity is an "agency" under the APA if it has "authority to act with the sanction of the government behind it . . . . The form the agency takes, or the functions it performs are not determinative of the question of whether it is an agency").
It is well-settled law that under the APA, decisions such as the one here at issue must, inter alia: i) be based on a consideration of all relevant evidence properly before the decision-maker; ii) not be based on information improperly put before the decision-maker; iii) reflect that similarly situated parties have been treated the same; and iv) be supported by a reasoned, rational explanation. APA principles also call for a substantive hearing to be held prior to the rendering of a decision of the nature of selecting TLDs. Even if the direct applicability of the APA to the TLD selection process is not conceded, ICANN would still need to comply with the fundamental tenets of the APA pursuant to its By-Laws and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between ICANN and the U.S. Department of Commerce. Under Article III, 1 of the By-Laws, ICANN must "operate to the maximum extent feasible in an open and transparent manner and consistent with procedures designed to ensure fairness." Similarly, pursuant to MoU V.D.2 and V.D.3, ICANN must act in a manner that is reasonable, justifiable and not arbitrary. These provisions essentially restate the basic legal principles reflected in the APA.
As set forth more fully below, because ICANN made its decision regarding the .travel TLD in a manner that did not accord due deference to these legal and equitable considerations, IATA respectfully requests that ICANN reconsider its decision. Moreover, we believe that once ICANN follows these requirements, it will have no legitimate reason not to select .travel as a new TLD.
All Relevant Factors Not Considered
In its reconsideration of IATA's application, ICANN should consider all of the relevant factors that were properly presented to it regarding the .travel TLD. Neither the ICANN Staff nor its Board did so with respect to IATA's application, and this omission should be remedied on reconsideration.
The comprehensive application for the .travel TLD that IATA timely submitted, and the subsequent comments submitted to the official ICANN TLD Public Forum, presented overwhelming evidence to ICANN that IATA's application satisfied all nine evaluation criteria that ICANN, on August 15, 2000, publicly stated it would apply in selecting the new TLDs. IATA also demonstrated how the .travel TLD would provide consumers with more security for their travel-related transactions over the Internet, thus achieving unique public interest benefits.
The criteria which ICANN announced would be dispositive of TLD applications are as follows:
1. The need to maintain the Internet's stability.
2. The extent to which selection of the proposal would lead to an effective "proof of concept" concerning the introduction of top-level domains in the future.
3. The enhancement of competition for registration services.
4. The enhancement of the utility of the DNS.
5. The extent to which the proposal would meet previously unmet types of needs.
6. The extent to which the proposal would enhance the diversity of the DNS and of registration services generally.
7. The evaluation of delegation of policy-formulation functions for special-purpose TLDs to appropriate organizations.
8. Appropriate protections of rights of others in connection with the operation of the TLD.
9. The completeness of the proposals submitted and the extent to which they demonstrate realistic business, financial, technical, and operational plans and sound analysis of market needs.
The IATA application amply demonstrated how the .travel proposal fulfilled these nine criteria. Furthermore, on November 5, 2000 IATA submitted to the TLD Public Forum "Supplemental Comments of IATA in Support of '.travel' TLD" which address in detail and with specificity the manner in which the application satisfies each of the nine criteria. A copy of that document is attached to this Request for Reconsideration as Attachment A. Neither the Staff Report nor the Board deliberations reflect any disagreement with the detailed assessment set forth in that document. Rather, one can only conclude, based on the record that has been developed, that the nine announced criteria were simply ignored when it came to evaluation of the IATA application, and instead, a hitherto unspecified tenth criterion, "representativeness," was applied as the sole dispositive consideration. Such treatment constitutes a clear failure to respect fundamental principles of due process and administrative law, and warrants the grant of this request for reconsideration, such that ICANN may make a proper disposition of the IATA application, taking into account the nine applicable criteria.
While the sole purported ground for not granting the IATA application was the Board's belief it lacked sufficient "representativeness," the record in fact reflects that the IATA proposal attracted support from an extremely diverse cross-section of interests representing all sectors and geographic sub-divisions of the global travel industry, and that it was thus among the most representative of all the applications before the Board. Although some travel agents and travel agent associations initially submitted critical comments to the ICANN TLD Public Forum that questioned whether IATA represented more than merely the airlines, IATA quickly responded to correct this mis-impression. IATA commenced meetings with the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations (UFTAA), and with other global travel industry entities and travel agents to address their concerns over governance of the .travel TLD. This resulted in IATA reaching an understanding which fully satisfied the leading travel agency trade associations of the world concerning IATA's confirmed intentions for the governance of the .travel TLD. Specifically, IATA committed to ensuring that the .travel Advisory Board would function with supreme authority for determining the objective and transparent criteria to be applied in deciding whether a particular person or entity qualifies to receive a domain name within the .travel TLD. Further, IATA committed that no one segment of the industry, including airlines, will have any "veto" rights over decisions approved by a majority of the .travel Advisory Board, so that ultimate authority on such matters shall lie with the broad range of world-wide stakeholder representatives rather than with the IATA Board of Governors or any other entity internal to IATA.
ASTA, the world's largest association of travel professionals representing over 26,000 travel agent members (primarily in the United States), and UFTAA -- the largest federation of travel agent associations worldwide, representing over 48,000 travel agent members in 97 countries -- submitted comments to the ICANN TLD Public Forum in support of IATA's application, as did a number of their individual members. Other supporting comments came from a widespread cross section of the global travel community, which demonstrated the breadth of appeal and support for the .travel TLD. More than 75 supporting comments were filed by, among others, travel agents, travel agent associations, airlines, airline associations, airline equipment manufacturers, airports and airport authorities, e-commerce firms, hotels, railways (including Amtrak and others), travel and tourism organizations, and individuals. While a few parties continued to make negative comments in the TLD Public Forum, these were dwarfed by the substantial worldwide industry comments filed in support of the application.
On November 9, 2000, the ICANN staff issued an evaluation report (Staff Report) that perfunctorily rejected the IATA application. Essentially, the Staff concluded that the IATA application should receive the draconian sanction of rejection on the basis of the limited opposition to IATA's application without considering substantively the nature, merits or breadth of such opposition. Neither the Staff nor the Board (which adopted the Staff's recommendation in toto) sought to counterbalance the opposition with a consideration of the overwhelming support for the IATA application in the ICANN TLD Public Forum database. Nor did the Staff or the Board give any consideration to all of the positive aspects of the application itself. Neither the Staff nor the Board considered or discussed any of the nine evaluation criteria that ICANN said it would apply in considering the TLD applications. Neither the Staff nor the Board gave any apparent consideration to the supplemental comments IATA offered which demonstrated why the application conclusively met the nine announced criteria, and thus, merited approval.
Furthermore, it was arbitrary for ICANN to apply the criterion of "representativeness" to IATA's application because "representativeness" was not one of the nine announced evaluation criteria. Thus, IATA had no prior warning that it need even address this factor in its application. IATA was denied adequate notice that if opposition materialized this would be assumed to constitute conclusive proof of a lack of "representativeness," regardless of whether there was any merit to the allegations made in such opposition, and regardless of the presence of counter-balancing support for the application from throughout the global travel industry.
Even assuming, arguendo, that "representativeness" is subsumed within Criterion No. 7 (and IATA maintains it is not), ICANN should not have made its entire decision based on this single factor for a number of reasons. First, Criterion No. 7, by its own terms, applies only to "special-purpose" TLDs. However, the IATA .travel application was classified by ICANN not as a "special purpose" TLD, but as a "restricted commercial" TLD. Thus, even if "representativeness" were deemed to be implicit in Criterion No. 7, that criterion is, according to the framework prescribed by ICANN itself in its August 15 statement, not applicable to proposals such as the one made by IATA.
Second, ICANN should not have rejected the IATA application based solely on a purported lack of "representativeness" without at least endeavoring to determine the nature, merit and depth of the comments which gave rise to that perception. IATA commends ICANN for incorporating the opportunity for public comment into the TLD selection process. Having said that, given that it is not necessary to disclose one's true identity, mailing address, etc., in order to obtain a user name and password, it is obviously possible for a small group of people, or even one person, to set up multiple e-mail accounts, obtain multiple user names, and create the mis-impression on the TLD Public Forum of much wider opposition to a given application than is in fact the case. Moreover, those comments which expressed the view IATA was not "representative" provided no evidence or documentation to substantiate such accusations or to enable ICANN to reach a reasoned judgment on the veracity of the allegations asserted. While public comments have the potential to make a constructive contribution to the TLD selection process, in order for that to happen their origin and content need to be verified, not simply accepted at face value as absolute truth.
And third, if "representativeness" were deemed a pertinent criterion, the Board should not have ignored IATA's response to the written questions transmitted by the staff which described the terms of reference for the .travel Advisory Board, which would have plenary authority to govern the TLD, as agreed by IATA and the world's travel associations. Had ICANN properly considered these matters of record evidence, it would have reached the only legitimate conclusion: that IATA is representative of the vast majority of the travel industry; that a broad consensus of that industry supports the IATA application; and that the opposition which surfaced was not necessarily reliable, was in any event de minimis, had failed to produce any substantial evidence in support of the assertions made, and was largely prompted by irrelevant agendas and ulterior motives.
Consideration of Ex Parte Information
When an agency is deciding among competing claims for a specific valuable privilege under circumstances similar to adjudication, or is involved in a rulemaking, the APA calls for it to refrain from engaging in ex parte communications with interested parties. Nor is it to rely upon factual evidence not a part of the public record. During the November 15, 2000 Board meeting, a member of the Board stated that he had "received substantial negative email about this application, and no positive email." This indicates the Board was taking into account ex parte communications as to which IATA had no knowledge or opportunity to respond. Moreover, the statement suggests that the Board member was not aware of the substantial comments filed on the record in the ICANN TLD Public Forum in support of the .travel application.
In its reconsideration of IATA's application, the Board should ensure that its decision has not been influenced in any manner whatsoever by information improperly or unfairly placed before the Board.
Different Treatment of Similarly Situated Persons
In its treatment of IATA's application, the Board appears to have treated IATA in a manner that was less favorable than the treatment afforded to other applicants that were situated similarly to IATA. Almost every TLD application received negative comments in the ICANN Public Forum. For example, commenters on the ".museum" application criticized it for lacking unanimous endorsement of the museum community and for improperly seeking to cover galleries. Yet the Board approved this and the other applications with no apparent consideration of the negative comments evidencing a lack of unanimity among the affected stakeholders. Similarly, the Board accepted the application of RegistryPro, Ltd. for ".pro" (which ICANN placed in the same "restricted commercial" category as .travel) without requiring the applicant to make any showing whatsoever of its "representativeness" of the targeted community, e.g., bar associations, institutes of chartered accountants, medical associations, etc. To the contrary, there were only three comments posted on the TLD Public Forum in support of the .pro application. How can three comments constitute a showing of "representativeness" for an entity proposing to sponsor a TLD for a plethora of different professional occupations from throughout the world? If ICANN was going to apply a criterion of "representativeness," it was required to apply the same criterion to each and every application, and not to single out only certain applicants, such as IATA, for such treatment.
Furthermore, ICANN classified IATA's .travel application in the "restricted commercial" category, even though the application made abundantly clear that IATA is constituted as a not-for-profit organization and is committed to operating .travel as a sponsored TLD, strictly on a not-for-profit, cost-recovery basis. No explanation was given as to why the application was not placed in the "Special Purpose TLD" category, where most other not-for-profit, sponsored TLDs were grouped, including ".aero", ".coop", and ".museum". Indeed the only TLD selected by the Board from the "restricted commercial" category, the RegistryPro, Ltd. application for ".pro", was an unsponsored proposal, which was thus totally dissimilar to the IATA proposal. This unexplained, arbitrary, and erroneous classification of the IATA application was prejudicial to its fair consideration, and must be remedied upon reconsideration.
Absence of a Reasoned, Rational Explanation
The Board's decision whether to accept a new TLD should be the result of a reasoned rationale supporting the decision. Nowhere in either the Staff Report, or the statements of the Board members during the meetings on November 15 or 16, or in the announcement issued by ICANN naming the new TLDs, is there any reasoned rationale supporting the decision not to approve the .travel TLD. Not only was such an explanation necessary to ensure against decisions that are arbitrary and capricious, but also to provide a record to a reviewing body such as the ICANN "Independent Review Panel" or a court.
Holding of Substantive Hearing
As part of its reconsideration of the IATA application, the Board should hold a hearing. The ICANN decision regarding TLDs is adjudicatory in nature. Applicants purportedly were required to make a factual showing as to the manner in which their application satisfies the nine evaluation criteria to be applied by ICANN. In such proceedings, ICANN should hold a substantive hearing to ensure that applicants are able to adequately present the merits of their applications, and that they receive sufficient time to address concerns of the Board. Decisions regarding addition of TLDs to the A root server are critical and deserve a full vetting process.
The three-minute presentations by the 44 TLD applicants on Wednesday, November 15, 2000 did not allow sufficient time for applicants to make a proper presentation to the Board to enable it to reach a principled decision on the proposals. To remedy this deficiency, the Board should, upon reconsideration, hold a hearing at which a more reasonable amount of time is allotted to enable the application to be properly presented and any concerns of Board members to be duly addressed.
IATA respectfully requests that the Reconsideration Committee recommend that the ICANN Board:
1) reconsider its decision not to select .travel as one of the new TLDs;
2) conduct its reconsideration of IATA's application for .travel in a manner that complies with ICANN's obligations under the APA, the By-Laws and the MoU; and
3) accept IATA's application for the .travel TLD and enter into negotiations with IATA to implement the .travel TLD, in recognition of IATA's travel industry leadership position and the industry-wide consensus in support of its proposed sponsorship of the .travel TLD.
Very truly yours,
Greggory B. Mendenhall
Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP
Counsel to the International Air Transport Association
cc: David Short, Esq.
International Air Transport Association
SUPPLEMENTAL COMMENTS OF IATA IN SUPPORT OF ".TRAVEL" TLD
Following IATA's submission to ICANN of its application for the ".travel" TLD on October 2, scores of comments regarding the proposal were posted to the TLD Comment Forum, and ICANN emailed four questions to IATA, to which IATA responded on November 3. The comments and questions have raised important issues and the entire process has, we respectfully submit, reinforced that: 1) ".travel" should be among the first group of new TLDs selected by ICANN, and 2) IATA is fully qualified to sponsor the new TLD. The IATA application demonstrated, and we reaffirm below, that our proposal meets and exceeds all of the criteria adopted by ICANN for selecting the next generation of TLDs, including the nine specific criteria listed by ICANN at www.icann.org/tlds/tld-criteria-15aug.00htm. Furthermore, as discussed below, our proposal for the ".travel" TLD has received widespread support from a diverse cross-section of the global travel industry, and the initial concerns over governance of the new TLD expressed by some travel agents have been, we believe, fully resolved by the understandings we have reached with, and clarifications we have made to, the leading travel agency trade associations of the world. The worldwide support for the new TLD is strong and diverse, and all of the essential elements are in place for the selection of ".travel" as a new TLD, as summarized below.
1. Maintenance of Internet Stability. As demonstrated in our proposal, IATA and its proposed registry operator possess the requisite qualifications and abilities to launch and operate the new TLD in a manner that would never jeopardize the stability of the Internet. Not only do we have the technical capabilities and financial wherewithal for the administration and operation of the new TLD, but we also possess critical prior experience in handling large and complex worldwide undertakings. As our proposal states, "IATA has been entrusted by the industry, and by governments around the world, to design and equitably administer the coding systems essential for the smooth and efficient functioning of the travel industry." C4. As set forth in C12 of our proposal, IATA has an annual budget in excess of US$ 240 million and is accustomed to managing activities with sizeable financial implications and unquestionably has the capabilities and resources to successfully launch and operate the ".travel" TLD. Significantly, no comments to the TLD Comment Forum have questioned the fact that we would operate the new TLD in a manner that would maintain Internet stability.
We also have ensured that any necessary transition between registry providers will not result in any harm to the efficiency or operation of the new TLD. As set forth in E.7 of our proposal, the Memorandum of Understanding between IATA and the registry operator provides that all data in relation to the ".travel" TLD will be deposited with a reputable, mutually acceptable escrow agent, to be transferred to IATA and/or ICANN upon expiration or termination of the Agreement between IATA and the Registry Operator, in order to ensure reliable and continuous operation of the ".travel" TLD.
2. Effective "Proof of Concept." The IATA application clearly articulates the restricted TLD concept that our proposal will test, how the results of the test can be evaluated, and how the results of the evaluation will assist in the long-range management of the DNS. As set forth in C, our plan to introduce quality controls to validate the businesses for ".travel" domain names will serve as a model for future restricted TLDs focused on other sectors of the economy. As provided in C10 of our proposal, as a restricted TLD, objective and transparent selection criteria will be established (to be determined by the ".travel" Advisory Board) to ensure that only legitimate providers of travel-related goods, services, and information will be allowed to register in the TLD. By doing so, as more fully explained in E of our proposal, an innovative and significant value-added service will be provided that will be highly attractive to Internet users, and which may serve as a model for future TLDs geared to other specific sectors of the economy.
3. Enhancement of Competition for Registration Services. The ".travel" TLD will enhance competition for Registration Services because it "offers the potential to introduce much needed competition in the provision of registry services, which will drive down prices and increase the array of choices to the benefit of users not only of '.travel' but of all TLDs." IATA Proposal C. As sections C and E of the IATA proposal also explain, IATA will encourage numerous travel industry associations to become registrars, thus adding new competitors to the market for providing registrar services. Once qualified as registrars for ".travel", these associations may also wish to act as registrars for ".com" and other unrestricted TLDs, thereby enhancing competition for Internet registry services even more broadly. Our pricing structure should also have a positive effect on competition. As stated in E of our proposal, the ".travel" TLD will be operated on a not-for-profit basis, with pricing aimed to equate with actual costs. (Should any surpluses result, IATA has committed that they will be used for public interest purposes, such as "bridging the digital divide" for travel and tourism in developing countries.) Moreover, ICANN is expected to authorize a number of new TLDs, all of which will be competing for domain name registrations. Thus, market forces will act as a further check on the pricing of all new TLD sponsors.
4. Enhancement of DNS Utility. The "utility" of the ".travel" TLD will be profound and universal, both with respect to the Domain Name System and Internet and world commerce in general.
To begin with, the ".travel" TLD would sensibly add to the existing DNS hierarchy and would help avoid confusion of Internet users in locating the Internet resources they seek. The TLD label clearly reflects the particular purpose for which the TLD is intended. In addition, the proposed TLD is semantically and phonetically "far" from existing TLDS, such that confusion will be avoided. The restrictions on the TLD will assist users in remembering or locating domain names within the TLD. For example, users might conclude that "delta.travel" is associated with the airline, rather than the dental plan.
The attraction and utility of the ".travel" TLD extends far beyond airlines and their customers. In addition to its airline membership, IATA counts among its customers approximately 90,000 IATA accredited and endorsed travel agents located in 209 countries; the operators of other modes of transportation such as railways and ferry companies; and numerous other suppliers of travel-related services including hotels, travel insurance providers, etc. IATA Proposal C1. Attachment C1.C to the IATA Proposal shows a list of allied and associated organizations that are participants in our Partnership Program.
Moreover, the comments supporting IATA's application have come from a widespread cross section of the global travel community, which demonstrates the universal appeal of the ".travel" TLD proposal. Annex A hereto contains a partial list of the comments which travel industry representatives have submitted to the TLD Comment Forum in support of IATA's proposal for the ".travel" TLD. These comments (more than 75 in number) were filed by, among others, travel agents, travel agent associations, airlines, airline associations, airline equipment manufacturers, airports and airport authorities, e-commerce firms, hotels, railways, travel and tourism organizations, and individual Internet users. The comments in support have come from every continent, from businesses large and small, as well as from individual consumers and from the major European travel consumer federation, FATURE (the Federation of Air Travel User Representatives in Europe). These comments, more than anything else, establish the worldwide desire for ".travel" to be included in the new group of TLDs, and the confidence which the global travel community, in the broadest possible sense, places in IATA to sponsor and administer the ".travel" TLD.
IATA's proposal also has been embraced by key segments of the business community. For example, in a recent comment filed in the TLD Comment Forum, financial powerhouse Citibank "heartily endorse[d]" IATA's application, offering its belief that "IATA's application may be the single best example of how the Internet community can benefit from independent management of a top level domain." Citibank further stated that it has "worked closely with IATA for years to help ensure fair, prompt clearing and settlement of payments among a broad spectrum of travel industry participants - including such diverse entities as airlines, travel agents, cargo carriers, freight forwarders, hotels, and car rental agencies. We are pleased to have had the opportunity to have seen and supported IATA's successful efforts to establish a neutral environment that promotes the growth of the entire travel industry without prejudice against any industry segment." Citibank added that it had "also worked closely with IATA in recent years to develop Internet projects that would benefit the broad travel community. From this activity, we can report that IATA understands the effect that e-commerce can play in transforming the industry, and that IATA understands how to act as a force for positive change in this area. We believe that IATA will be a fair and responsible manager of this top level domain."
We also highlight the fact that our proposal is now supported by the major trade associations for the travel agency community. Since filing its application on October 2nd, IATA has been in communication with the travel industry to discuss its proposal for sponsorship of the ".travel" TLD and to seek a consensus within this diverse and global industry in support of IATA's application. While approximately 100 of the 90,000 accredited/endorsed travel agents of the world have posted comments on the TLD Comment Forum questioning the proposed governance of a ".travel" TLD, the IATA proposal has now gained the support of the American Society of Travel Agents ("ASTA"), the world's largest association of travel professionals representing over 26,000 travel agent members (primarily in the US), and the Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations ("UFTAA"), the largest federation of travel agent associations worldwide representing over 48,000 travel agent members in 97 countries. Both ASTA and UFTAA are now satisfied that the governance procedures, as clarified by IATA, are appropriately representative of, and accountable to, the diverse and dynamic travel industry. Both ASTA and UFTAA have posted their comments confirming their support for the IATA application on the ICANN TLD Comment Forum. As noted in the ASTA press release announcing its position on the IATA application, "[t]his is the first time since 1995 that agents and airlines have found grounds of mutual interest on a controversial subject..." IATA has agreed to these clarified governance procedures and is committed to ensure that the ".travel" TLD shall incorporate them.
IATA also has taken the necessary steps to ensure that the new TLD will be governed in a manner that reflects the entire diversity of the world's travel community. As set forth in Section C4 of the IATA application, the ".travel" TLD will be governed by a ".travel" Advisory Committee, comprised of a "broad range of representatives of members of the '.travel' stakeholder community, including specifically travel consumer groups, and travel services suppliers." IATA is committed to ensuring that the ".travel" Advisory Committee will function as an "Advisory Board" with supreme authority for determining the objective and transparent criteria to be applied in deciding whether a particular person or entity qualifies to receive a domain name within the ".travel" TLD. Moreover, neither IATA nor the airlines (nor any other individual segment of the travel industry) will control or dominate the ".travel" Advisory Board and its decisions. No individual segment of the travel industry, including airlines, will ever have more than a minority of the total number of seats on the Board, and no one segment, including airlines, will have any "veto" rights over decisions approved by a majority of Board members. Thus, ultimate authority on such matters shall lie with the broad range of stakeholder representatives which will comprise the ".travel" Advisory Board, rather than the IATA Board of Governors or any other entity internal to IATA.
Section C6 of the IATA application also references the IATA-Registrars Forum which will be created to provide input into TLD policy development, and serve as a vehicle for communication between registrars and the TLD sponsor. Given that many industry associations, representing travel agencies, hotels, car rental firms, etc., will be encouraged to become registrars for the ".travel" TLD, the IATA-Registrars Forum will provide an additional avenue for entities throughout the dynamic and global travel industry to ensure that the policies of the ".travel" TLD reflect the entire travel industry, and all of its diversity.
5. Meeting Unmet Needs. IATA's proposal meets the unmet needs of having a TLD dedicated to the travel industry, and a process which helps ensure the legitimacy of entities holding themselves out as qualified providers of travel related goods, services, and information.
As set forth in E of our proposal, travel accounts for more than 10% of the world's economy, but consumers of travel goods, services, and information are faced with a great deal of uncertainty and mistrust which has impeded the fullest possible adoption of Internet e-commerce. The ".travel" TLD will set a new standard of quality and provide the level of buying confidence that consumers expect from traditional brick and mortar travel providers. The ".travel" TLD will serve as an essential hallmark that the consumer will associate with quality and credibility, something absent in the .com TLD.
In addition, as reflected in E29 of our application, the restricted ".travel" TLD would go beyond the current environment with .com, .net and .org by providing a solution to address the current issues of trademark infringement, trademark dilution, cybersquatting and business practice assurance, while not infringing on the original intent of free expression.
6. Enhancement of DNS Diversity and Registration Services. Diversity of the DNS would be enhanced by the ".travel" TLD because entities and individuals from all over the world, who are part of the travel community, will be able to use the ".travel" TLD as a means for the provision of travel-related goods, services, and information over and in connection with the Internet. In addition, consumers of travel goods, services, and information throughout the world will be able to access the multitude of ".travel" sites in a reliable and efficient manner. Furthermore, as stated in E of our application, with offices in over 75 countries, IATA has intimate first hand knowledge of the cultural awareness needed to generate a high level of confidence from consumers in both economically developing and developed nations.
Throughout C of its proposal, IATA refers to IATA's intention to establish a new ".travel" Advisory Committee, or Board, comprised of "a broad range of representatives of members of the '.travel' stakeholder community, including specifically travel consumer groups, and travel service providers." As clarified and confirmed in our response to ICANN's questions (and in No. 4 above), IATA is determined to ensure the ".travel" Advisory Board shall have substantive and efficacious participation by representatives of travel consumer groups, travel agent associations, and other segments of the travel and tourism industry, including tourist promotion boards, cruise lines, railways, car rental firms, hotels, and travel guide publishers.
7. Delegation of Policy-Formulation Functions. Under the IATA proposal, ICANN would delegate the authority to adopt and implement policies regarding the use and operation of the ".travel "TLD to IATA, which in turn would delegate authority to the .travel Advisory Board, which would consist of representatives from all sectors of the travel industry and would not be controlled or dominated by any sector, including airlines. In this manner, the TLD will be governed in a manner that reflects the functional and geographic diversity of the Internet and its users, and involves the sort of "bottom-up" governance that has characterized the development of the Internet to date.
8. Protection of Third Party Rights. Section E of IATA's application sets forth the numerous ways in which IATA shall ensure that the intellectual property and other rights of third parties are appropriately protected in the issuance of ".travel" domain names. As detailed in E5, IATA intends to implement a multi-tiered approach to provide, in a practical manner, the highest level of protection of intellectual property rights and to encourage full compliance with anti-cybersquatting legislation. This approach includes careful review of the applications, geographic name restrictions, a screening process, holding of registrations in abeyance for 10 days or longer to accommodate legitimate challenges, application of the ICANN UDRP, availability of IATA alternative dispute resolution procedures, a requirement that the domain name be actually used, and ongoing monitoring by IATA. In addition, the proposed registry operator for the ".travel" TLD proposes to offer an Intellectual Property Notification Service to enable interested parties to monitor domain registrations.
In its "IPC Evaluation Chart for Proposed TLD(s)," the Intellectual Property Constituency ("IPC") accorded IATA's application for the ".travel" TLD the highest ratings possible for the categories of: 1) "consider[ation of] intellectual property protections for third party interests" (Category C) and 2) incorporat[ion of] policies that are likely to discourage abusive registration practices" (Category E).
IATA respectfully submits that other aspects of the IPC Chart do not, for some reason, accurately reflect the true nature of IATA's proposal. For Category A (whether the proposals "have a well thought-out plan for allocation of names during the startup phase") IATA's proposal received an "Unsatisfactory" rating (as did a majority of the proposals). This rating may have reflected a misunderstanding on the part of the IPC evaluators. There is, in fact, a "sunrise provision" in our proposal. Section E15 states that, although "IATA believes that the practice of offering pre-registrations to particular applicants to be a discriminatory practice . . . IATA will use a phased approach to limit the initial sign-on rush by only allowing those who qualify for top level domain names to proceed in the approval process." (Emphasis added). The proposal also states in E12 that "IATA believes that by limiting the applicant process to only those qualified for a top level domain name in the first few months, IATA will be able to provide the most expansive benefits to the common Internet user, without overwhelming the registry, registrar and accrediting process." Further, IATA emphasizes in E14 that the "rush for registration in the startup phase" for '.travel' will be "limited by the type of TLD assignment available during that period." For Category B of the IPC evaluation (whether the proposal "provide[s] for a reasonably accessible and efficient mechanism for resolving domain name disputes"), IATA received a "Satisfactory" rating. We respectfully submit that the rating should be "Good" because IATA's proposal embraces the ICANN UDRP (see E1, E6) and offers alternative specific accessible and efficient mechanisms for the resolution of domain name disputes. See E1, E5 and E6. Finally, we would like to clear up any confusion which may have resulted in IPC concluding that IATA provided insufficient information for Category D, which relates to the manner which the ".travel" TLD will provide an effective and properly balanced WHOIS service. Section E5.6 of our proposal contains our commitment to provide WHOIS information to the public, and we can assure IPC and the public that the amount of information provided shall be more than adequate to assist trademark owners to obtain the necessary information regarding registrants in order to take the necessary actions to protect their trademark and other intellectual property rights. We regret any contrary construction placed on our proposal by IPC.
9. Proposal Completeness, et al. IATA's proposal was both complete and demonstrated fully that IATA has a thorough understanding of what is involved in the sponsorship and operation of a restricted TLD such as ".travel," and that IATA has carefully considered all relevant issues, realistically assessed the business, financial, technical, operational and marketing requirements for implementing the proposal, has produced firm commitments for all necessary resources, and has formulated sound business and technical plans for executing the proposal.
For all these reasons and those set forth in our application, we respectfully request that ICANN grant our application for the ".travel" TLD and that ICANN and IATA collectively proceed to the realization of the ".travel" TLD.
Comments in Support of IATA's Application for a ".travel" TLD
v Agents and Agent Associations
ASTA (American Society of Travel Agents)
World's largest association of travel professionals.
26 000 members comprised of travel agents, as well as tour and cruises companies, hotels, car rentals etc.
ABA (A Bargain Affair)
Leader in providing low fare, reliable travel services to the frugal shopper.
The Association of Canadian Travel Agents is Canada's largest membership based tourism association with close to 3,000 members
It represents the interests of Canadian travellers through 5,000 travel agencies
Bill Healy Travel
CITS (China International Travel Service)
Largest travel agent in China.
Covers 80% of the travel spectrum, both inbound and outbound.
[Miami, FL and Raleigh, NC]
ARC accredited agency that provides a wide range of travel and consulting services to international ministry and humanitarian relief organizations located throughout North America.
SITA World Travel (Nepal) Pvt. Ltd.
Southeast Travel Corp
Tourism Biel Seeland
Travel Industry Services, Gregorys International
An organization that works within the more austere environments, such as the Eastern Bloc countries.
UFTAA (Universal Federation of Travel Agents' Associations)
Represents 48 000 individual travel agencies in 97 countries.
Wide World Travel-Mister Vacation
v Aircraft Manufacturing Industry
Fairchild Dornier Corporation
Bombardier Aerospace Regional Aircraft
CAE Electronics Ltd.
Delta Air Lines
Iberia Airlines of Spain
Saudi Arabian Airlines
Lan Chile Airlines
Royal Jordanian Airline
SairGroup, Swissair, The Airline of Switzerland
v Airline Associations
AACO (Arab Air Carriers Association)
AAFRA (African Airlines Association) representing 33 member airlines:
Bellview Airlines Ltd.
Libyan Arab Airlines
LAM Mocambique Airlines
Lignes Aeriennes Congolaises "LAC"
Royal Air Maroc
Royal Swazi National Airways
South African Airways
TAAG Angola Airlines
AASA (Airlines Association of Southern Africa) representing 29 members:
Airports Company South Africa
Avis Rent A Car
East Coast Airways
Shell South Africa
South African Airlink
South African Airways
South African Express Airways
The Boeing Company
AEA (Association of European Airlines)
Represents 29 major European scheduled carriers:
TAP Air Portugal
AITAL (Asociation Internacional de Transporte Aereo Latinoamericano)
Major airline trade association, comprising 23 international carriers:
Aeropostal Alas de Venezuela
Lloyd Aereo Boliviano
Mexicana de Aviacion
AAPA (Asia Pacific Airlines Association)
IACA (International Air Carrier Association)
37 airline members:
Air Europa Espana
Air Europe SPA
Air Holland Charter
Britannia Airways AB
Britannia Airways UK
Finnair Leisure Flights
Hapag Lloyd Flug
LTU International Airways
North American Airlines
Aeroport de Paris (ADP)
BAA plc (British Airport Authority)
Owner and operator of major international airports in the UK, US, Italy and Australia.
v Air Navigation
CANSO (Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation)
v Air Transport Sales Agencies
CAS (China Air Service)
One of the largest air transport sales agencies, including tour operations, in China for both inbound and outbound travel.
v Au Pair Organizations
IAPA (International Au Pair Association)
v Consulting Firms
Aviation and Tourism International
Consulting firm active in the travel and transport industry worldwide.
KPMG Consulting LP
Consulting firm with significant experience across multiple industry verticals.
v Consumer Representatives
Federation of Air Transport User Representatives in Europe
Leading consumer travel federation in Europe.
I WINGS, Inc.
Internet-based travel service company.
Provides travel agency community with the ability to search instantly all available Web fares for comparison with GDS fares when seeking travel itineraries for their clients.
(Paul Mencinger) Webmaster of many tourism and travel oriented web sites.
v Ground Handling Services
Leading service provider in the airline industry
ACCOR Asia Pacific Division
IH&RA (International Hotel & Restaurant Association)
Global network of independent and chain operators, national associations, hospitality suppliers and educational centres in the hotel and restaurant industry.
Represents over 750,000 establishments in more than 150 countries.
Provides a voice at international level for an industry which comprises more than 300,000 hotels and 8 million restaurants world-wide, employs 60 million people and contributes US$950 billion to the global economy.
ATPCO (Airline Tariff Publishing Company)
Eurostar Group U.K.
The UK provider of the Eurostar Rail Services together with French (SNCF) and Belgian (ANCB/NMBS) Railways.
U.I.C. (Union Internationale des Chemins de Fer International Union of Railways)
VIA Rail Canada
Canada's national passenger rail company.
v Trade Fairs
Messe Service Leipzig GmbH
Organizer of the "Leipziger Messe," one of the world's foremost trade fairs.
v Travel and Tourism Organizations
Aviation and Tourism International
ALTO (Association of Language Travel Organisations)
FIYTO (Federation of International Youth Travel Organisations)
Israeli Government Tourism Office for the Nordic Countries
PATA (Pacific Asia Travel Association)
Members: nearly 2 000 government tourist offices, destination promotion boards, airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and other travel-related businesses.
Mission: enhance the growth, value and quality of Pacific Asia travel and tourism on behalf of members.
TIA (Travel Industry Association of America)
Represents the U.S. travel industry for 59 years.
Mission: facilitate enhanced travel to and within the United States.
WTO (World Tourism Organization)
Only intergovernmental organization that serves as a global forum for tourism policy and issues.
Members include 138 countries and territories and more than 350 affiliate members from the public and private sectors.
Mission: Promote and develop tourism as a significant means of fostering international peace and understanding, economic development, and international trade.
WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council)
Global non-profit association that has worked together with the Travel & Tourism industry to ensure its competitive and sustainable development.
Members represent all sectors of the Travel & Tourism industry, have over the years worked together with public and private sectors across the globe to advance the development of Information Technology and E-commerce to benefit Travel & Tourism business and consumers.
WYSTC (World Youth and Student Travel Conference)
v Individuals / Customers
an "e-commerce professional"
International Air Transport AssociationIATA Centre, Route de l'Aeroport 33P.O. Box 416CH-1215 Geneva 15 AirportSwitzerland+011.41.22.799.2974 Telephone+011.41.22.799.2685 Facsimileshortd@iata.org Electronic Mail Although the A root server currently is located at and operated by Network Solutions, Inc., this is under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Commerce Department. Pursuant to Amendment 11 of that agreement, the U.S. Government must approve the addition of any new TLD to the root server. Significantly, IATA understands that for purposes of participation in the recent elections for ICANN at-large Board Members, ICANN did require the specification of postal addresses, presumably to avert the potential for abuse of this sort.