The ICANN Domain Names Supporting Organization (DNSO) is currently working toward formulating recommendations on the topic of the introduction of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), taking into account protection of globally famous trademarks. These recommendations are scheduled to be forwarded to the ICANN Board of Directors by 20 April 2000. The DNSO Names Council has recently received reports (linked below) of two working groups on this topic and invites the Internet community to comment on the reports. The public comment forum at the bottom of this web page is one opportunity for you to comment.
Present Structure of the Domain-Name System. The domain-name system (DNS) employs top-level domains consisting of two general types. Two-letter codes (such as .de, .jp, and .uk) are used to represent the names of countries and territories and are referred to as country-code top-level domains, or simply "ccTLDs." Longer codes are often referred to as "generic top-level domains." Presently these longer codes are .com, .net, .org, .edu, .int, .mil, and .gov. (One other top-level domain, .arpa, is used for for Internet-infrastructure purposes.)
History of Discussions. For several years, there have been proposals to implement additional gTLDs in the DNS. These proposals have ranged from adding a few gTLDs to several hundred. Different types of gTLDs have been discussed, ranging from gTLDs available for registrations by any person or organization for any use ("unrestricted gTLDs") to gTLDs intended for registrations by particular types of persons or organizations or for particular uses ("chartered gTLDs"). Because no new gTLD has been added for many years, concerns have been raised that their introduction might disrupt the operation of the Internet or the domain-name registration system.
The US Government's June 1998 White Paper, which proposed transitioning the Government's responsibilities for technical coordination of the Internet to a private-sector not-for-profit corporation (now ICANN), noted that the private-sector coordinating corporation should ultimately have the authority necessary to oversee policy for determining the circumstances under which new TLDs are added to the root system. The White Paper noted, however, that:
On 30 April 1999, the World Intellectual Property Organization, which at the request of the US Government had conducted a study of intellectual-property issues in connection with the DNS and proposals for its evolution, submitted a report to the ICANN Board of Directors. That report concluded that, on the condition that various measures were adopted to protect intellectual-property rights, new gTLDs could be introduced, provided that they were introduced in a slow and controlled manner that takes into account the efficacy of the proposed measures in reducing existing problems. Among these measures was a proposed mechanism for protecting globally famous names in any new gTLDs.
At its meeting in Berlin on 27 May 1999, the ICANN Board referred the issues of globally famous trademarks and gTLD expansion to the newly formed ICANN Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO).
On 25 June 1999, the DNSO Names Council (which manages the process for development of policy recommendations within the DNSO) created two working groups to study the issues: Working Group B on the treatment of famous trademarks and Working Group C on new gTLDs. Over the next eight months, the two working groups analyzed and discussed their topics, mostly by e-mail. The e-mail discussions are archived at:
At its meeting in Cairo on 8 March 2000, the Names Council requested Working Groups B and C to provide reports on their work within ten days, after which they would be posted for public comment. On 10 March 2000, ICANN's Board of Directors requested that the Names Council "submit recommendations on the topic of the introduction of new generic top-level domains, taking into account protection of globally famous trademarks, no later than April 20, 2000."
The Reports of the Working Groups. The DNSO Names Council invites the Internet community to comment on the issues discussed in the reports of Working Group B (famous names) and Working Group C (new gTLDs). Comments may be submitted to either the icann.org web-based comment forum or by e-mail to the dnso.org site. To be considered fully, comments should be submitted as soon as possible, because the Names Council will meet on 18 April 2000 to decide on its recommendations, so that they can be reduced to writing and submitted to the ICANN Board by 20 April.
You can read the reports and make comments by following the links below:
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