unqualified domains, was ICANN to allow commercial gTLDs

Owen DeLong owen at delong.com
Sun Jun 19 19:02:57 CDT 2011

On Jun 19, 2011, at 11:59 AM, David Conrad wrote:

> On Jun 19, 2011, at 8:49 AM, Chris Adams wrote:
>> Once upon a time, Randy Bush <randy at psg.com> said:
>>>> Now I'm tempted to be the guy that gets .mail
>>> express that temptation in dollars, and well into two commas.
>> Imagine the "typo-squating" someone could do with .con.
> See section (and section 2.1.2) of http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/rfp-clean-30may11-en.pdf
> Regards,
> -drc

To save others some eye strain (apologies for the format when pasted from PDF):

2.1.2	History of cybersquatting
ICANN will screen applicants against UDRP cases and legal databases as financially feasible for data that may indicate a pattern of cybersquatting behavior pursuant to the criteria listed in section 1.2.1.
The applicant is required to make specific declarations regarding these activities in the application. Results returned during the screening process will be matched with the disclosures provided by the applicant and those instances will be followed up to resolve issues of discrepancies or potential false positives.
If no hits are returned, the application will generally pass this portion of the background screening.

and	String Similarity Review
This review involves a preliminary comparison of each applied-for gTLD string against existing TLDs, Reserved Names (see subsection, and other applied-for strings. The objective of this review is to prevent user confusion and loss of confidence in the DNS resulting from delegation of many similar strings.
Note: In this Applicant Guidebook, “similar” means strings so similar that they create a probability of user confusion if more than one of the strings is delegated into the root zone.
The visual similarity check that occurs during Initial Evaluation is intended to augment the objection and dispute resolution process (see Module 3, Dispute Resolution Procedures) that addresses all types of similarity.
This similarity review will be conducted by an independent String Similarity Panel.	Reviews Performed
The String Similarity Panel’s task is to identify visual string similarities that would create a probability of user confusion.
The panel performs this task of assessing similarities that would lead to user confusion in four sets of circumstances, when comparing:
	Applied-for gTLD strings against existing TLDs and reserved names;
	Applied-for gTLD strings against other applied-for gTLD strings;
	Applied-for gTLD strings against strings requested as IDN ccTLDs; and
	Applied-for 2-character IDN gTLD strings against:
o	Every other single character.
o	Any other 2-character ASCII string (to protect possible future ccTLD delegations).
Module 2 Evaluation ProceduresApplicant Guidebook (30 May 2011)
Module 2 Evaluation Procedures
Similarity to Existing TLDs or Reserved Names – This review involves cross-checking between each applied-for string and the lists of existing TLD strings and Reserved Names to determine whether two strings are so similar to one another that they create a probability of user confusion.
In the simple case in which an applied-for gTLD string is identical to an existing TLD or reserved name, the online application system will not allow the application to be submitted.
Testing for identical strings also takes into consideration the code point variants listed in any relevant IDN table. For example, protocols treat equivalent labels as alternative forms of the same label, just as “foo” and “Foo” are treated as alternative forms of the same label (RFC 3490).
All TLDs currently in the root zone can be found at http://iana.org/domains/root/db/.
IDN tables that have been submitted to ICANN are available at http://www.iana.org/domains/idn-tables/.
Similarity to Other Applied-for gTLD Strings (String Contention Sets) – All applied-for gTLD strings will be reviewed against one another to identify any similar strings. In performing this review, the String Similarity Panel will create contention sets that may be used in later stages of evaluation.
A contention set contains at least two applied-for strings identical or similar to one another. Refer to Module 4, String Contention Procedures, for more information on contention sets and contention resolution.
ICANN will notify applicants who are part of a contention set as soon as the String Similarity review is completed. (This provides a longer period for contending applicants to reach their own resolution before reaching the contention resolution stage.) These contention sets will also be published on ICANN’s website.
Similarity to TLD strings requested as IDN ccTLDs -- Applied- for gTLD strings will also be reviewed for similarity to TLD strings requested in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process (see http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn/fast-track/). Should a conflict with a prospective fast-track IDN ccTLD be identified, ICANN will take the following approach to resolving the conflict.
Applicant Guidebook (30 May 2011)
Module 2 Evaluation Procedures
If one of the applications has completed its respective process before the other is lodged, that TLD will be delegated. A gTLD application that has successfully completed all relevant evaluation stages, including dispute resolution and string contention, if applicable, and is eligible for entry into a registry agreement will be considered complete, and therefore would not be disqualified by a newly-filed IDN ccTLD request. Similarly, an IDN ccTLD request that has completed evaluation (i.e., is validated) will be considered complete and therefore would not be disqualified by a newly-filed gTLD application.
In the case where neither application has completed its respective process, where the gTLD application does not have the required approval from the relevant government or public authority, a validated request for an IDN ccTLD will prevail and the gTLD application will not be approved. The term “validated” is defined in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process Implementation, which can be found at http://www.icann.org/en/topics/idn.
In the case where a gTLD applicant has obtained the support or non-objection of the relevant government or public authority, but is eliminated due to contention with a string requested in the IDN ccTLD Fast Track process, a full refund of the evaluation fee is available to the applicant if the gTLD application was submitted prior to the publication of the ccTLD request.
Review of 2-character IDN strings — In addition to the above reviews, an applied-for gTLD string that is a 2- character IDN string is reviewed by the String Similarity Panel for visual similarity to:
a)	Any one-character label (in any script), and b)	Any possible two-character ASCII combination.
An applied-for gTLD string that is found to be too similar to a) or b) above will not pass this review.	Review Methodology
The String Similarity Panel is informed in part by an algorithmic score for the visual similarity between each applied-for string and each of other existing and applied- for TLDs and reserved names. The score will provide one objective measure for consideration by the panel, as part of the process of identifying strings likely to result in user confusion. In general, applicants should expect that a higher visual similarity score suggests a higher probability
Module 2 Evaluation Procedures
that the application will not pass the String Similarity review. However, it should be noted that the score is only indicative and that the final determination of similarity is entirely up to the Panel’s judgment.
The algorithm, user guidelines, and additional background information are available to applicants for testing and informational purposes.2 Applicants will have the ability to test their strings and obtain algorithmic results through the application system prior to submission of an application.
The algorithm supports the common characters in Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic, Devanagari, Greek, Japanese, Korean, and Latin scripts. It can also compare strings in different scripts to each other.
The panel will also take into account variant characters, as defined in any relevant language table, in its determinations. For example, strings that are not visually similar but are determined to be variant TLD strings based on an IDN table would be placed in a contention set. Variant TLD strings that are listed as part of the application will also be subject to the string similarity analysis.3
The panel will examine all the algorithm data and perform its own review of similarities between strings and whether they rise to the level of string confusion. In cases of strings in scripts not yet supported by the algorithm, the panel’s assessment process is entirely manual.
The panel will use a common standard to test for whether string confusion exists, as follows:
Standard for String Confusion – String confusion exists where a string so nearly resembles another visually that it is likely to deceive or cause confusion. For the likelihood of confusion to exist, it must be probable, not merely possible that confusion will arise in the mind of the average, reasonable Internet user. Mere association, in the sense that the string brings another string to mind, is insufficient to find a likelihood of confusion. Outcomes of the String Similarity Review
An application that fails the String Similarity review due to similarity to an existing TLD will not pass the Initial Evaluation,
2 See http://icann.sword-group.com/algorithm/
3 In the case where an applicant has listed Declared Variants in its application (see subsection 1.3.3), the panel will perform an analysis of the listed strings to confirm that the strings are variants according to the applicant’s IDN table. This analysis may include comparison of applicant IDN tables with other existing tables for the same language or script, and forwarding any questions to the applicant.
Applicant Guidebook (30 May 2011)
Module 2 Evaluation Procedures
and no further reviews will be available. Where an application does not pass the String Similarity review, the applicant will be notified as soon as the review is completed.
An application for a string that is found too similar to another applied-for gTLD string will be placed in a contention set.
An application that passes the String Similarity review is still subject to objection by an existing TLD operator or by another gTLD applicant in the current application round. That process requires that a string confusion objection be filed by an objector having the standing to make such an objection. Such category of objection is not limited to visual similarity. Rather, confusion based on any type of similarity (including visual, aural, or similarity of meaning) may be claimed by an objector. Refer to Module 3, Dispute Resolution Procedures, for more information about the objection process.
An applicant may file a formal objection against another gTLD application on string confusion grounds. Such an objection may, if successful, change the configuration of the preliminary contention sets in that the two applied-for gTLD strings will be considered in direct contention with one another (see Module 4, String Contention Procedures). The objection process will not result in removal of an application from a contention set.

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