Donuts replied to Government of Samoa’s early warning that it will proceed with its application for .WEBSITE. Donuts also said that .WEBSITE—and all gTLDs, speaking generally—will benefit by the adoption of naming alternatives to .COM and other longstanding incumbent gTLDs.
About two weeks back Donuts replied to the Greek Government that it will proceed with .BASKETBALL gTLD.
The Samoan Government’s warning suggested two reasons an application for .WEBSITE should not proceed:
- Registrations in the ccTLD .WS, previously marketed as a representation for the term “WorldSite” and now for “WebSite,” provide revenue to the Government of Samoa and could have adverse economic impact.
- .WEBSITE would be “confusingly similar” to .WS, and cause end-user confusion.
Donuts said that it appreciates these concerns and thanks the Government of Samoa for making them known. Donuts respectfully disagrees with the assertions of the warning, however, and believes proceeding with the application for .WEBSITE is appropriate and warranted.
Donuts replied to the two issues above by saying:
Assessing economic impact of a potentially competing gTLD is difficult when critical statistics are not publicly known (e.g., number of currently active registrations, renewal rate, etc.). First, it is Donuts’ opinion that .WEBSITE—and all gTLDs, speaking generally—will benefit by the adoption of naming alternatives to .COM and other longstanding incumbent gTLDs. As such, we do not believe that the .WS ccTLD will be harmed economically by the inclusion of .website.
Second, even if there is a negative affect on the .WS registry, there are no grounds in the Applicant Guidebook by which an application should be rejected based on the fact that it might be a competitor to and could cause economic harm to an incumbent gTLD or ccTLD registry. Indeed, the very purpose of the new gTLD program is to offer consumer choice and competition, objectives Donuts is working to fulfill.
With regard to the issue of confusing similarity,.WEBSITE and .WS are very unlikely to meet ICANN’s established standards for such a classification. While .WS may be marketed as an abbreviation for various terms, including “website,” the .WEBSITE gTLD is visually distinct and is highly unlikely to cause confusion in the minds of Internet end-users. If .WS wishes to raise this issue during the objection process, however, it is free to do so. The New TLD program, approved as part of the multi-stakeholder model, has a process to resolve concerns of confusing similarity. The .WS registry should use the specifically approved process if it wishes to lodge such concerns.
Our gTLDs will be operated in an open and unrestricted manner for the benefit of all law-abiding users. We note, of course, that as is the case in all forms of progress, there may be some level of cost. However, all stakeholders must recognize the net benefit to the worldwide community and encourage expansion of the benefit, instead of closing great sections of opportunity due to perceived possible (though unlikely) harm. We must avoid choking growth and thwarting legitimate activity. Accordingly, Donuts will proceed with its application for .WEBSITE.