An Update on the Closed Generics Debate

March 3, 2013 - ICANN is currently seeking public comment on the subject of “closed generic" Top Level Domain (TLD) applications. A “Closed Generic" is a TLD that is a generic term, but domains within that TLD will not be sold to the public.

There are those who object to generic terms such as .book being operated as closed registries. For example, Google, Inc., has applied to create the .Search TLD to allow it to improve its search functionality, and Amazon.com has applied for the .book TLD to allow it to segregate its book product offerings onto a separate TLD. Many oppose these projects because, it is said, that these TLDs offer companies like Google, Inc. and Amazon an "unfair competitive advantage".

On the other hand, there are those who believe that Closed Generics should be permitted because they do not represent an unfair competitive advantage. By way of comparison, the leading bookseller online is Amazon.com - not Book.com. Those who support Closed Generics are in favor of innovation and competitive freedom, with no restrictions on the types of services that can be provided through a Top Level Domain.

To date, there have been 42 comments submited to ICANN's public comments section:

Below are excerpts from all of the comments that have been posted on ICANN's Public Comments section as of March 3, 2013

What do you think of closed generics? Should ICANN take action to prohibit closed generics? Share your opinion on ICANN.org.


In Favor of Closed Generics Against Closed Generics Against the tLD Process All Together
Keven - It just seems wrong for ICANN to be changing the rules of the gTLD launch this late in the game. Jenifer - "There is no place for closing any domain highway on the Internet and there should never be exclusivity within this realm." George Kirikos - It's time to seriously consider abandoning the new gTLDs plan, refund the application fees, and go with another approach.
Mary Iqbal - "No one would suggest that we ought to disallow generic domain names because someone else got the best domain name first; nor should we disallow generic Top Level Domains for the same reason." Retail Council of Canada - "RCC considers the delegation of closed gTLD for generic industry terms (such as .book) to be a threat to the openness and freedom of the Internet."  
  Joseph - "Part of what has brought positive value in life that many people have today is because of the open and free internet."  
  Rajuks - "We must re-evaluate all polices and models we are following on closed Generic GTLD."  
  Carlos - "L’Oreal’s application for .SALON should be disqualified entirely because it is anti-competitive and will give L’Oreal an unfair advantage over the competition."  
  David Golden, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America - Mr. Golden Quotes the GAC in his letter to ICANN. " ICANN’s own Governmental Advisory Committee wrote in its February 28, 2011, report card that, 'Those strings that refer to particular sectors, such as those subject to national regulation (such as .bank, .pharmacy) or those that describe or are targeted to a population or industry that is vulnerable to online fraud or abuse, should also be considered ‘community-based’ strings. ' "  
  John - "I wish to register the strongest objection to the proposed use of closed gLTDs not for the protection of brand names but to appropriate and colonise generic words in common usage."  
  The Booksellers Association of Switzerland - "The Booksellers Association of Switzerland is of the strong opinion that 'closed generic' gTLD applications have to be invalidated when submitted by commercial entities operating in a sector of activity related to the closed generic gTLD."  
  The Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland - "The Booksellers Association of the UK & Ireland strongly opposes any applications for a 'closed generic' gTLD, especially if submitted by commercial entities operating in a sector of activity related to the closed generic gTLD."  
  Paul - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Viral - "Closed generic domains should not be permitted because if we do that then It will benefit only Large corporations and small business will lose their marketing power."  
  John - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company. "  
  Rikk - "It seems totally counter-productive to consider having closed sections of TLD's unless their was one where the name infringed an existing corporate name or title."  
  Robert - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Joseph - "If you give .security to Symantec that would harm and industry on the whole, in Canada, United States, Mexico, all of the Americas, and Europe, this should not be allowed, they are not the security industry."  
  Dan - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Levis - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Dwayne - "If ICANN permits any company to possess a 'closed domain' - including Symantec (a computer company) to use '.security' then the security and alarm industry could be lost. Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company. Closed use of '.security' is not similar to the way '.com,' '.net' and '.org' are used on the Internet daily."  
  Jack - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Sean - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  George - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company. "  
  Carol - " Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Safe Home Security - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Affordable Lock Services Inc. - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Sean - "While I understand the purpose of the closed registry, it is important that only specific names are allowed in the interest of maintaining competition and fairness in industry. In particular, specific closed registry names such as .cloud, .security, .ondemand, and many others should be exempt from this policy. This is especially true if these specific closed registries are owned by a single company."  
  Sanjeev - "We at UNIT4 Business Software (globally) unanimously and unreservedly object to .Cloud becoming a closed registry. We believe this is a generic term and that all organisations and/or communities that have an association with the Cloud (be this technologies, software, services, social networks etc.) should be allowed to use this TLD."  
  Infynia Technologies - "We believe that Generic Words should not be purchased by one company."  
  Michel - "Des mots génériques ne peuvent et ne doivent pas appartenir exclusivement à une seule compagnie."  
  Normand - "I'm writing to you today to state my opinion that you should be very careful in letting big companies taking over generic words like 'security' and obtaining exclusivity on it. It would be an unfair marketing disadvantage to all other forms of security to see that keyword become the exclusivity of a large company."  
  David - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  David Franklyn and Thomas McCarthy - "As we understand it, a number of companies have applied for gTLDs that consist of generic industry product categories with the ability to exclude competitors for their sole economic advantage – such as .search or .insurance. We write to request that ICANN withhold approval for such closed, generic gTLDs. "  
  ChannelCloud UK/IE - "Closed generic domains should not be permitted - they are anti-competitive and favour the larger players."  
  Amy - "Close generic domains should not be allows as they will benefit only one commercial entity rather than the industry as a whole or consumer."  
  Phin - I would just like to say that any generic word covering an activity or product, e.g. app, insurance, book, that has been registered by an enterprise should be stopped and the TLD released back out to the general public to register names for.  
  Bob - "Please do not give control over TLDs to any entity, corporate or government. The only thing that makes the internet the an amazing, world-changing thing is the open nature that allows everyone equal access. Anything which compromises that openness is bad for the Internet."  
  Eugene V. DeFelice - "Barnes & Noble, Inc. submits this letter to urge ICANN to deny Amazon.com's application to purchase several top level domains (TLDs), most notably .book, .read and .author (collectively the "Book TLDs").[1] Amazon, the dominant player in the book industry, should not be allowed to control the Book TLDs, which would enable them to control generic industry terms in a closed fashion with disastrous consequences not only for bookselling but for the American public."  
  Michael - "Closed generic domains would greatly reduce the choices for the consumer and reduce growth in the industry. We do believe it is important to keep these domain names open for full industry participation."  
  Mike - "Generic words cannot and should not be owned for the exclusive use of one company."  
  Andrew - "I am writing to register my very strong objections to proposals to give individual companies exclusive control over generic top-level domains."  
  Seth - "Like the oceans and outer space, generic word TLDs form part of the global resource to be shared equitable among all of mankind and as such, should not be delegated in a closed fashion to any commercial or non-commercial interest."  


What do you think? Should ICANN take action to prohibit closed generics? Share your opinion on ICANN.org.


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