China Unicom objects to the contention set including .UNICOM and .UNICORN

China Unicom objects to the contention set including .UNICOM and .UNICORN by sending a letter to ICANN.

When ICANN released the string similarity contention sets for New gTLD program, ICANN only focused on the visually similar gTLD strings and that resulted in only 2 “Non-Exact Match Contention Sets”:
.hotels & .hoteis (small l is visually similar with small i) and
.unicorn & .unicom (rn is visually similar to m)

China Unicom always refers to the strings .unicorn and .unicom in upper case where there is no visual similarity. But ICANN put the 2 strings in the same contention set because of the visual similarity in lower case.

ICANN is under pressure to include more strings in contention sets so it is highly unlikely that China Unicom’s objection will succeed.

Here are the main points of the letter:

On behalf of China Unicom, the new gTLD applicant for both the 联通 IDN toplevel domain and the .UNICOM TLD, we are writing to voice our objection to ICANN’s decision to place .UNICOM and .UNICORN in a contention set with each other. The policy goal of avoiding user confusion is simply not served by reliance on a formulaic calculation of visual similarity where, as here, the actual “probability of user confusion” is plainly low. Given the completely different meanings, intended audiences and commercial impressions of the two strings.

Rigid reliance on the strict visual similarity rules in this case is unwarranted, unfair to both applicants, and serves no reasonable policy goal. The strings themselves are phonetically and aurally distinct, and each creates a distinct and readily distinguished overall impression. Moreover, the applicants operate in completely distinct markets, and provide very different products and services. Finally, each applicant proposes to operate as a truly closed TLD.

For the reasons set forth in this letter, China Unicom objects strenuously to the creation of a contention set including “.UNICOM” and “.UNICORN”. The visual similarity test in this case does not accurately measure the likelihood of user confusion, given that it does not reflect string meaning, overall public impression, the distinctive nature of the products and services offered by the applicants, or the different markets being served by the applicants. Creation of this contention set does not serve the public interest, nor does it serve the policy concerns that the string similarity processes were designed to address. We urge the ICANN Board to formally reconsider the decision of the String Similarity panel and allow these two very different applications to proceed through the evaluation process independently.


About Konstantinos Zournas

I studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London, UK and I am now living in Athens, Greece. I went online in 1995, started coding in 1996 and began buying domain names and creating websites in 2000. I started the blog in 2012.

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