Donuts wrote to ICANN Board Chairman Steven Crocker yesterday asking ICANN to put an end to the delay involving its application for .SPA New gTLD.
Here is the complete letter:
We strongly urge the Board to advance the .SPA TLD through the processes enshrined in the
Applicant Guidebook. While we respect the concerns raised by the City of Spa and the Belgian
Government, we are confident that we have thoroughly addressed those issues, and that
application is in full compliance with both the letter and the spirit of the rules set forth for the New
Following the Beijing meeting in April 2013, Donuts engaged in discussions with representatives
from the City of Spa, Belgium to resolve the objections that the Belgian government had raised about
the .SPA domain. Although it is clear to us that “spa” is a widely used generic term that, as ICANN has
determined, does not meet the standards for geographic consideration set forth in the Guidebook, we
are committed to ensuring that all of our gTLDs operate in the best interests of all they serve.
To allay the concerns raised by representatives of the City of Spa, we offered several additional
protections that extend beyond those mandated by the Guidebook, and those that Donuts offers
through its Public Interest Commitments. Specifically, Donuts offered to block the registration of
second‐level addresses that could cause confusion, and offered the City of Spa priority registration
to further protect the city’s unique names, culture and trademarks.
Donuts is committed to providing these protections for .SPA regardless of the disposition of its
discussions with the City of Spa or the Belgian Government. If Donuts becomes the registry for .SPA,
the City of Spa’s interests will be uniquely protected. Such protection would not exist for any other
jurisdiction in any of Donuts’ other TLDs.
As you know, the attorney for the City of Spa rejected our offer of additional protections and is
holding fast to his original demand that his clients be granted even more rights, such as limited
management authority over the TLD as well as a percentage of .SPA’s profits in perpetuity.
As staunch advocates for the new gTLD process and the bottom‐up multistakeholder policy
development model, Donuts cannot, in good faith, agree to these demands. While the City of Spa
maintains a historical link to the word “spa”, that word long ago evolved as a globally recognized
generic term by people who have never even heard of the city of its origin. The public interest served
by making that term available to a global community of spa users far outweighs any risk of confusion
with the city of the same name. And for those names that may cause confusion, Donuts has provided
a rigorous series of additional protections and controls.
The City of Spa gave the word “spa” to the world many centuries ago, and the world has done a great
deal with it. Just as attorneys for the City of Spa don’t fly around the world handing cease‐and‐desist notices to resort operators and hot‐tub manufacturers, we do not believe it is appropriate for them to
overrun ICANN procedure to try to exert control over how that term is used in the Internet’s global
addressing system. While Donuts remains committed to the additional protections it has offered the
City of Spa, it is not our belief that further discussions will yield an agreeable compromise. As the
GAC has not offered consensus advice regarding the domain, we urge the Board to follow the
guidebook and advance .SPA to the contention resolution process.
To be clear, ICANN already has determined that .SPA does not meet the criteria set forth for
geographic names that require city endorsement. Section 126.96.36.199.2 of the Guidebook covers any
application “for a city name, where the applicant declares that it intends to use the gTLD for purposes
associated with the city name.” Nobody is arguing that this is the case with .SPA, which clearly is
targeted at generic use.
Finally, the Memorandum of Understanding reached between the City of Spa and the other applicant
for .SPA cannot, and should not, be given any weight in the determination of which registry wins the
right to operate the domain. Nothing in the Guidebook permits outside stakeholders to pick winners
and losers in the application process, and to allow that to occur here, where the two applicants are
not at all similarly situated, would set an extremely negative precedent. The multipart process in
place for resolving contention sets is the result of years of development through the multistakeholder
process and should not be subverted based on the request of a single stakeholder.
As we move forward into an exciting new era of Internet governance led by the global
multistakeholder community, it is more critical than ever that ICANN lead by example, and uphold its
commitment to bottom‐up policy development and implementation. The community has spoken with
the input of the GAC, the policy is clear, and the time is now for ICANN to administer that policy as
Jonathon L. Nevett
Co‐Founder and Executive Vice President