DNS Policy Notes for Oct. 1, 2014

Collected news and opinion about the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the domain name business, Internet governance, and miscellaneous other cyberlaw topics for Oct. 1, 2014.

Not So Fast, Tata Sons

Tata Sons Ltd. is a $100 billion export firm based in India. Tata is also a small town in Morocco (pop. 15,192). Tata Sons applied to ICANN to operate a .tata top-level domain as a brand TLD. ICANN classified .tata as a geographic TLD, sending it to extended evaluation.

Tata Sons emerged successfully from EE on July 18, when ICANN's Geographic Names Panel determined that .tata met all relevant criteria [pdf] for approval as a geographic name.

Maybe not.

On Sept. 17, Boubker Seddik, Director for Digital Economy at the Moroccan Ministry of Trade, Investment, and Digital Economy, sent a letter to ICANN [pdf] complaining that .tata's application did not meet the Application Guidebook criterion requiring evidence of government support or non-objection for TLD strings that match sub-national place names:

[T]his is not the case with the application for the dot Tata, as far as I know, which did not receive any endorsement from any Moroccan authority or from the community of the relevant Sub-division/province.

It is my understanding that the Moroccan government may object to such application at any time including after the new gTLD will be delegated. But, I think if the gTLD Dot Tata is granted to Tata SONS Limited as private sector without the corresponding authorization of the Moroccan government, this will be a precedent for future rounds of new gTLD requests and then other sub-national or regional names could be captured by brands.

ICANN has elected to treat the letter as a Request for Reconsideration, to be taken up by the Board Governance Committee.

In another matter, this one involving .radio, three applicants for the .radio TLD (Afilias, Donuts, and BRS Media) filed a Request for Reconsideration [pdf] of the Community Priority Evaluation Panel's decision to approve [pdf] the European Broadcasting Union's competing application for .radio as a community TLD. The applicants dispute the CPE panel's determination that EBU's application met the guidebook criteria for a community TLD. They also filed a related request for documents relating to the CPE panel's decision.

New gTLDs Dissed

In Post On 2016 Presidental Domain Names Doesn't Even Mention New gTLD's (The Domains), Michael Berkens suggests that this oversight is evidence of insufficient marketing by new gTLD registry operators. Perhaps, but there are so many other ways for a journalist to err I'd be very reluctant to select this reason without have a few more facts.

Bankruptcy Court: Please List Your Domain Names

Domain names -- old and new -- are getting some attention from U.S. bankruptcy courts. Proposed new Form 206A/B (schedule of assets) specifically mentions, for the first time, "Internet domain names and websites" as intangible property that must be listed in a petition for bankruptcy.

federal bankruptcy form 206A

Domain names have always been treated as part of a bankrupt's estate and subject to disposition by the trustee, of course. The current form (Schedule A -- Real Property, Form 6) asks the debtor to list "all real property in which the debtor has any legal, equitable, or future interest." The change is that the proposed form now specifically mentions and asks the petitioner to list domain names on the property schedule.

The proposed new bankruptcy forms and rules are open for public comment until Feb. 17, 2015, at the Judicial Conference Advisory Committees on Appellate, Bankruptcy, Civil, and Criminal Rules website.

Survey Finds Public Support for Wireless Net Neutrality

In New Survey Data Finds Strong Public Support for Wireless Net Neutrality Rules, the Internet Association, an industry group, writes about a Sept. 8 survey:

Strong public support for net neutrality is evident in the overwhelming flood of more than 3.7 million comments to the FCC, urging the Commission to protect an open Internet. This recent survey finds a similar measure of support among the public specifically on the question of wireless net neutrality.

UDRP Winner Pays to Wriggle Out of Federal Suit

From Company pays $25k to resolve lawsuit stemming from UDRP (Domain Name Wire), news about a trademark owner who won a weak UDRP case but had to pay to get out of the domain name registrant's subsequent federal trademark suit:

Yet here's a case in which there was a financial penalty, even though a UDRP panel found in favor of the complainant.

Companies being advised to file a UDRP should think twice: whenever you initiate an action, even for arbitration, you're opening yourself up to a potential lawsuit or counter-action.

Claim of New gTLD Abuse Challenged

The article New gTLD Abuse Trends Beginning to Emerge (CircleID) is worth reading for the post and the comments.

Block This

From Hong Kong Protestors Are Organizing Without Using the Internet (Lawfare), an example of an how emerging technology is allowing individuals to route around roadblocks erected on existing Internet technologies.

Thomas O’Toole is managing editor of Bloomberg BNA’s Electronic Commerce & Law Report and a contributor to Bloomberg BNA’s Internet Law Resource Center.