.Shopping Ruled Confusingly Similar to .Shop


In 2012, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and numbers, accepted applications to create new Top Level Domains (TLDs). A TLD is the text to the right of the final dot in a domain name. For example, .Com is the most popular TLD today. 1,930 applications for proposed new TLDs were filed. The Dispute Resolution phase of the application process is an opportunity for individuals and organizations to object to any new TLD application.  Commercial Connect LLC filed 21 String Similarity objections against various TLD applicants.  Commercial Connect LLC has prevailed in their String Similarity objection against the .Shopping TLD.


October 17, 2013 - Commercial Connect LLC - one of the nine applicants for the .Shop TLD - has prevailed in their String Similarity Dispute against String Tigers LLC's application for the .Shopping TLD.  As a result, the .Shopping TLD will be added to the existing contention set for .Shop.  The .Shop contention set now includes all 9 applicants for .Shop, 2 applicants for .Shopping, and 1 applicant for 通販 (Online Shopping in Japanese). According to Jeffrey Smith, founder of Commercial Connect LLC, "In order to provide the most intuitive and safe eCommerce shopping experience only one TLD in this name space should be delegated. This decision brought us one step closer to this vision."

Commercial Connect had filed a total of 21 String Similarity disputes against TLDs including .BUY, .ECOM, .FORSALE, .SALE, .STORE, .STORE, .بازار, .セール .一号店, .商城, .家電, .网店, .购物, .SERVICES, .SHOPPING, .SHOPYOURWAY, .SUPPLIES, .SUPPLY, .商店, .网店 and .通販. To date, 13 of Commercial Connect's 21 String Similary Disputes have been dismissed, 6 are still pending, and just 2 String Similarity disputes were won by Commercial Connect. 

The table below shows the current status of all of Commercial Connect LLC's String Similary disputes to date.

StringApplication IDApplicantObjectorObjection TypeDeterminationDetermination DateDetermination Publication Date (ICANN)
BUY1-1141-30048Charleston Road Registry Inc.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedWednesday, August 14, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
ECOM1-2016-12429Ecommerce Inc.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedThursday, August 15, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
FORSALE1-909-18178DERForsale, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedWednesday, September 04, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
SALE1-1984-65341Dot-Sale LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedThursday, August 15, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
STORE1-1317-24947Amazon EU S.à r.l.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedMonday, August 26, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
STORE1-1789-97294Dot Store Group LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedWednesday, August 14, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
بازار1-862-50853CORE AssociationCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedMonday, August 12, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
セール1-1318-75179Amazon EU S.à r.l.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedMonday, August 26, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
一号店1-1244-37294Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedWednesday, August 14, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
商城1-867-66064Zodiac Capricorn LimitedCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedFriday, August 30, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
家電1-1318-54339Amazon EU S.à r.l.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedFriday, August 30, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
网店1-858-36255Zodiac Libra LimitedCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedFriday, August 16, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
购物1-994-1450Top Level Domain Holdings LimitedCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionApplicant PrevailedThursday, August 08, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013
SERVICES1-1628-41321Fox Castle, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
SHOPPING1-1631-16988Sea Tigers, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString Confusion Objector PrevailedMonday, October 14, 2013Thursday, October 17, 2013
SHOPYOURWAY1-1767-1759Shop Your Way, Inc.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
SUPPLIES1-1601-42282Atomic Fields, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
SUPPLY1-1591-23028Half Falls, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
商店1-1490-59840Wild Island, LLCCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
网店1-2102-26509Global eCommerce TLD Asia LimitedCommercial Connect LLCString ConfusionIn Progress----
通販1-1318-15593Amazon EU S.à r.l.Commercial Connect LLCString ConfusionObjector PrevailedWednesday, August 21, 2013Wednesday, September 25, 2013

All of the objections filed by Commercial Connect LLC above were filed in order to assert that the applications above were confusingly similar to the .Shop TLD and should be placed in a Contention Set. Only one TLD in a contention set may be awarded a contract with ICANN. By requesting that the strings above be added to the .Shop contention set, Commercial Connect LLC was asserting that the TLDs were too similar to co-exist at the DNS root.

About the Application Process

In 2012, ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, held a historic application round inviting companies from around the world to apply to operate new Top Level Domains - or TLDs for short. A Top Level Domain (TLD) is the text to the right of the final dot in a domain name. For example, the .com TLD is the most popular TLD today. 1,930 applications were filed in ICANN's historic application round. Applications were filed for branded TLDs, such as .BMW and .Accenture; for geographic TLDs, such as .London and .Berlin; for community TLDs, such as .Islam; and for generic words like .shop, .menu, .club, and .web

The first new TLDs resulting from the 2012 application round are expected to start selling domain names to the public in Q1 2014.

You may be asking yourself, why will it take 2 years for the first TLDs from the 2012 application round to launch?

The application review process conducted by ICANN is a very thorough, time-consuming process. The application process consists - at a high level - of the steps below:

  1. Administrative Completeness Check – During this phase, ICANN confirmed that all applicants had filled in all required questions and paid all required fees.
  2. String Similarity Review - After the Administrative Completeness check, ICANN assigned applicants into contention sets based on string similarity. In addition to the strings that were exact matches of each other, which were automatically placed into contention sets, ICANN also created two additional string contention sets.  These were 1) .hotels and .hoteis and 2) .unicorn and .unicom
  3. Initial Evaluation – During the Initial Evaluation phase, ICANN evaluated every application for financial capability to operate a TLD, technical capacity to operate a TLD, and also evaluated the string itself for stability and operational issues.
  4. Extended Evaluation - The Extended Evaluation phase was only necessary if ICANN required additional time to fully evaluate an applicant or if the applicant failed to pass the Initial Evaluation phase.
  5. Dispute Resolution - Disputes may be filed against an application for a new TLD on four grounds: Legal Rights, Community Objection, Limited Public Interest, String Confusion. The String Confusion objection was another way that applicants could use to request that similar strings should be placed in a contention set.  ICANN’s Independent Objector may also file a dispute against an applicant.
  6. Community Priority Panel - If one of the applicants in a contention set applied as a Community TLD, then ICANN must evaluate the applicant's claim to Community priority. If it is found that one applicant in a contention set has community support from established institutions representing the community, then that applicant will be granted the approval to move forward to the next steps in the application process.
  7. Auction - In the event that more than one applicant in a contention set passes through the Evaluation and Dispute Resolution phases, then applicants are encouraged to negotiate a solution. Failing that, applicants may bid against each other for the proposed TLD either via private auctions or via an auction hosted by ICANN.
  8. Contracting – After the applicant has passed through all prior steps in the application process, and any string contention disputes have been resolved, the applicant may be invited to the contracting phase of the Application Process.
  9. Pre-Delegation Testing – Pre-delegation testing consists of technical and operational testing to ensure that the applicant is ready to operate a new TLD.
  10. Delegation into the Root Zone – After the Applicant has signed a contract with ICANN, the applicant may request delegation into the Root Zone.
  11. Ramp-up – After the Applicant’s string has been delegated into the Root Zone, the applicant may begin to build up and test the technical infrastructure required to operate a TLD.
  12. Sunrise – The Sunrise phase usually consists of a 30-day period during which Trademark holders may purchase domain names within a given TLD followed by a 30-60 day Landrush Phase during which interested parties may request to purchase a domain name within the given TLD. During the Landrush period, in the event that two parties wish to purchase the same domain name, a bidding process us usually held for the domain name in contention.
  13. General Availability – Domain names are sold to the general public.

Dispute Resolution

Disputes may be filed against an application for a new TLD on four grounds: Legal Rights, Community Objection, Limited Public Interest, String Confusion. ICANN’s Independent Objector may also file a dispute against an applicant.

Legal Rights
If a TLD applicant receives a legal rights objection, the applicant must prevail against the legal rights objection, or their TLD application will not be allowed to continue to the next phase of the application process.

Community Objection
Organizations representing a particular community had the opportunity to object to a specific TLD string. There were 104 Community objections filed against various TLD strings. The applicant must prevail in a Community objection in order to be allowed to continue to the next phase of the application process.

Limited Public Interest
Anyone could file a Limited Public Interest objection against an applicant for a new TLD in order to assert that the new TLD was against established standards of morality or public order. If a TLD applicant receives a Limited Public Interest objection, the applicant must prevail against the objection, or their TLD application will not be allowed to continue to the next phase of the application process.

String Confusion
Existing TLD operators (such as Verisign, the operator of the .COM TLD) as well as applicants for new TLDs could file a string similarity objection against an applicant for a new TLD. If an existing TLD operator prevails in a string confusion dispute with an applicant for a new TLD, then the applicant for the new TLD will not be allowed to proceed any further in the ICANN application process. If, instead, the dispute was filed by another applicant for a new TLD and the dispute prevails, then the two strings will be placed in a contention set.

Next Steps for .Shop. .Shopping and .通販

The next step for the .Shop applicants is to wait until all outstanding disputes involving applicants in a contention set are resolved.  After the Dispute Resolution set is complete and the final contention sets established, then the next step would be the Community Priority Evaluation. 

There were two applicants that claimed Community Priority for the .shop TLD: Commercial Connect LLC and GMO Registry. If either Commercial Connect or GMO Registry's application for .Shop is ruled to be a community-based TLD with support from established institutions representing the community, then that applicant alone will be allowed to proceed to the next phase of the evaluation process, which is pre-delegation testing and signing a contract with ICANN. If the Community Priority Evaluation finds that .Shop is not a community-based TLD and/or that neither Commercial Connect nor GMO Registry showed adequate support from the community, then the next step will likely be an auction.

It is likely to be late 2014 before domains in the .Shop TLD go on sale. 


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