Questions to and Answers from Applicant for .pro

ICANN Questions:

ICANN is in the process of reviewing The dotPRO Consortium's TLD Application. As outlined in the October 23, 2000 TLD Application Review Update which appears at http://www.icann.org/tlds/tld-review-update-23oct00.htm, ICANN may "gather the additional information [it] require[s] by posing specific questions to applicants in e-mail and requesting a written response."

Keeping in mind the goal to evaluate applications to operate or sponsor new TLDs in as open and transparent a manner as possible, both the questions posed by ICANN and the Applicant's responses will be publicly disclosed on the ICANN website.

Accordingly, ICANN requests your reponses to the following questions:

1. State in detail your position as it relates to possible legal claims by certain applicants and/or non-applicant third parties based on alleged trademark, patent or other violations of purported rights in the TLD identified in your application.

2. If you receive a new TLD, state whether you will indemnify ICANN for claims arising from legal challenges regarding your right to operate the new TLD. If you will indemnify ICANN, identify and describe in detail the resources you propose to utilize for the indemnification.

3. Identify and summarize Applicant's assumptions with respect to the existence of other general purpose TLDs in determining the total number of registrations in your application

The dotPRO Consortium Responses:

1. Possible legal claims based on violations of purported rights in the .pro TLD

    We are somewhat unclear as to the precise meaning of this question and, if possible, would appreciate additional clarification so we can provide you with the information you are seeking. However, set forth below are answers to certain questions which we think may address what you are asking.
    If your question regarding legal claims is “What will we do in response to third parties who claim ownership of patents, trademarks, or intellectual property rights for the .pro extension?”, we would expect that such claims would be raised after the announcement of and prior to the launch of the new TLD and we would carefully analyze the validity of such claims. To the extent that there are significant concerns about a particular string, our application lists a number of alternate strings that may serve the same constituency as .pro and which we are willing to administer, including “.shop”, “.biz”, “.firm”, or any other string ICANN might determine to be appropriate to serve the internet community.
    In the event third parties’ claims of trademark, patent, or intellectual property rights for particular domain names ending in .pro result from pre-registration of such names with another entity, we do not believe that such pre-registrations are valid and would not give priority to anyone claiming such rights.
    In the event third parties claim trademark, patent, or intellectual property rights in names ending in .pro because, for example, they have obtained a registered trademark in some country containing these names or otherwise have obtained intellectual property rights containing these names, we would expect such third parties to register their .pro domain names according to the process proposed in our application or challenge in a UDRP proceeding any registrant that does register that name. dotTV’s experience in managing the .tv domain is that the UDRP is a very effective means for trademark owners to remedy wrongful registrations. If ICANN has any suggestions on further actions the dotPRO Consortium can take in the area of dispute resolution, we welcome the input.
    If the answers to the above questions do not address the specific questions you wanted answered, again, please clarify for us what information you are seeking and we will promptly respond.

2. Indemnity

    We would be happy to provide indemnification to ICANN to the extent of our insurance and to the extent of a reserve fund which we would create for this purpose. We would be willing to mutually agree with ICANN on the appropriate amount for such insurance and reserve fund.
    Until the reserve fund has been built up with income from domain licensing fees, we would initially pledge an agreed-upon amount from our consortium’s initial capitalization. The dotPRO Consortium will receive all necessary capital funding and financial support from dotTV and its consortium partners. The dotPRO Consortium Agreement calls for an initial capital investment of $10,000,000 that will include equity investments in equal amounts from each of the Partners.
    Again, if we have omitted any detail that ICANN considers important for evaluating the answer to this question, we would be happy to provide such additional information as is required.

3 Assumptions with respect to the existence of other general purpose TLDs

    With regard to ICANN's query as to whether dotPRO considered the possibility of multiple TLDs being granted, our response is similar to the dotNOM Consortium reply to the same question. Indeed, we worked from the same set of realistic assumptions for both applications and it was (and is) our hope that both the .pro and .nom strings are adopted. Both serve a distinct market and both have the potential to fulfill a large need.
    The number of registrations proposed in the dotPRO Consortium’s .pro application are:
      90% certainty: 2.6 million
      50% certainty: 6.1 million
      10% certainty: 17.5 million
    In preparing our estimates, we recognized a high likelihood that several TLDs will be granted and based our pro forma calculations on this assumption. Earlier in the year 2000, Bear Sterns estimated that 27-29 million domain names would be registered by year’s end; there were already in excess of 30 million registered domains at the end of September. With an estimated 100 million additional domain names to be issued over the next three years, it is clear to the dotPRO Consortium that there are a number of constituencies requiring domain name registration services. US and international businesses, products and services, and events are expected to require 60 million web addresses, exceeding our Consortium’s most optimistic pro forma estimates for the professional community by a factor of nearly four.
    Our provision for 2.6 million sales over five years is therefore extremely conservative and, we believe, well-reasoned. Our pro forma financials are predicated on serving a small fraction of the new gTLD market. Annual sales of 500,000 .pro names would result in breakeven (at the lowest-submitted wholesale price point of $3.50) after five years, and this volume falls well short of expectations of every source we consulted.

As a final note, I would like to emphasize the dotPRO Consortium’s willingness to abide by ICANN’s identified “best-of-class” solutions for the rollout of new TLDs, and to adjust our proposed policies to better dovetail with these solutions. We recognize that we do not have all the answers and can benefit greatly from ICANN's perspective on what will be required to best serve the internet community with regard to new TLDs. Furthermore, we are receptive to suggestions to partner with other consortia to the extent that ICANN identifies a desirable fit.

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