ICANN Asking For Comments On 2-Character Domain Names for .SOHU, .IMMO, .SAARLAND, .CLUB

ICANN has opened a comment period to obtain community input on the proposed amendments to the Registry Agreements of several registry operators: .SOHU, .IMMO, .SAARLAND, .CLUB.

The proposals requess the release of all two-character ASCII labels that do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 list and for which there is no corresponding government or country-code operator.

The proposed Amendments are to implement a new registry service, submitted through the Registry Services Evaluation Process (RSEP), that would permit the introduction of two-character domain names for registration in the new gTLD namespace.

Submit Comment to Forum

Comment Period: 19 Aug 2014 – 9 Sep 2014 23:59 UTC
Reply Period: 10 Sep 2014 – 1 Oct 2014 23:59 UTC

Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

Specification 5 (Schedule of Reserved Names), Section 2 of the New gTLD Registry Agreement addresses reservations of two-character labels. As provided in Specification 5:

All two-character ASCII labels shall be withheld from registration or allocated to Registry Operator at the second level within the TLD. Such labels may not be activated in the DNS, and may not be released for registration to any person or entity other than Registry Operator, provided that such two-character label strings may be released to the extent that Registry Operator reaches agreement with the related government and country-code manager of the string as specified in the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 standard. The Registry Operator may also propose the release of these reservations based on its implementation of measures to avoid confusion with the corresponding country codes, subject to approval by ICANN.

The New gTLD registry operators listed below submitted requests to ICANN through the Registry Services Evaluation Process (RSEP) to release certain two-character labels. In total, the requests concern four New gTLDs. Implementation of the proposal would require an amendment to the Exhibit A, Approved Services of the respective Registry Agreements, which are being posted for public comment.

Proposal TLD Registry Name Documents
2014045 club .Club Domains, LLC .Club Domains, LLC Request 6 August 2014 [PDF, 15 KB]
2014042 saarland dotSaarland GmbH dotSaarland GmbH Request 29 July 2014 [PDF, 17 KB]
2014041 immo Donuts, Inc., submitted by Binky Lake, LLC Binky Lake, LLC Request 22 July 2014 [PDF, 16 KB]
2014036 sohu Sohu.com Limited Sohu.com Limited Request 11 July 2014 [PDF, 15 KB]

As part of these requests, each registry operator described the two-character domain names that it would offer for registration. These RSEP requests were posted for public information on the Registry Service Evaluation Process webpage, available at https://www.icann.org/resources/pages/rsep-2014-02-19-en.

See below for a summary of each RSEP request:

  • .club – On 6 August 2014, ICANN posted for public information a request made by .Club Domains, LLC. The proposed service will allow for registration and use of two character SLD labels that do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2. The registry operator noted in its RSEP that “Releasing only the two character domains that do not correspond to an existing country code avoids confusion with country code addresses, and should therefore be approved by ICANN.”
  • .saarland – On 29 July 2014, ICANN posted for public information a request made by dotSaarland GmbH. The proposal requests the release of all two-character ASCII labels that do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 list and for which there is no corresponding government or country-code operator. Given that there is no relevant government or corresponding country-code operator, the registry operator notes in its request that the release of these two-character ASCII labels poses no risk of confusion with any country-code.
  • .immo – On 21 July 2014, ICANN posted for public information a request made by Binky Lake, LLC (on behalf of one Donuts, Inc. operated TLD). The proposal requests the release of all two-character ASCII labels that do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 list and for which there is no corresponding government or country-code operator. To avoid user confusion with the two-character country codes, the registry operator noted in its RSEP that “the release of these two-character ASCII labels poses no risk of confusion with any country-code. Therefore, the restrictions placed on this set of two-character ASCII labels are unwarranted and should be lifted forthwith.”
  • .sohu – On 11 July 2014, ICANN posted for public information a request made by Sohu.com Limited. The proposal requests the release of all two-character ASCII labels that do not appear on the ISO 31661-1 alpha-2 list and for which there is no corresponding country-code operator. The registry operator noted in its RSEP request that it is seeking “approval from ICANN in the form of a written waiver stating that .SOHU Registry Operator is permitted to make available for registration those two-character ASCII labels that do not appear on the ISO 3166-1 alpha-2 list and for which there are no corresponding country-code operators.”

As provided by the Registry Services Evaluation Policy, ICANN has undertaken a preliminary determination on whether the proposals might raise significant competition, security or stability issues. ICANN‘s preliminary review (based on the information provided) did not identify any such issues for these requests.

To note, in its 27 March 2014 Singapore Communiqué, the GAC noted that it “discussed the Brand Registry Group proposal for a streamlined process under an addendum to the Registry Agreement for the approval of country names and 2-letter and character codes at the second level.” The GAC stated that it “has no major concerns about brand owners seeking approval for such names,” but that the approval should be “done directly with the countries concerned rather than through a GAC-level operational process.” The GAC noted that “individual GAC members could assist with proposals relevant to their particular country if requested,” and the GAC suggested that “consideration be given to establishing a register of countries that do not require individual requests to be made”. Subsequent to the GAC‘s Singapore Communiqué, on 8 August 2014, the GAC Chair submitted a letter to the ICANN Board noting that some GAC members have raised concerns regarding the RSEP requests to release two-character labels, and as a result the GAC “intends to consider the matter at its next meeting during ICANN 51.” The GAC requested that the Board take this timing into account as it considers the RSEP requests, and to continue to keep the GAC appraised of similar requests.

Section II: Background

In 2006, .name requested for a limited release of reserved two-character names which ICANN staff performed an initial technical evaluation, and referred the matter to the Registry Services Technical Evaluation Panel (RSTEP) process. The RSTEP panel considered the security and stability impacts of the proposal, which focused on unexpected responses being received from the DNS for both existing and non-existing domains, as well as simply user confusion where the idea of two letter second-level domains is unfamiliar. Based on the report of the RSTEP Panel, internal experts and other public comments, there were no significant security and stability issues related to introduction of the proposal, and the board adopted a resolution on 16 January 2007 to authorize ICANN to amend the .name Registry Agreement to implement the proposed registry services.

From 2007 to 2012, ICANN processed various RSEP proposals related to the release of two-character labels for 11 TLDs (.jobs, .coop, .mobi, .biz, .pro, .cat, .info, .travel, .tel, .asia, and .org).

On 12 June 2014, a similar public comment period regarding six RSEP proposals and amendments for the introduction of two-character domain names was opened. The six RSEP proposals are for the following 148 gTLDs: .kred, .best, .ceo, .wiki, .globo, and 143 Donuts, Inc. operated TLDs (Note: Binky Lake, LLC has submitted a RSEP request on behalf of Donuts, Inc. for 143 gTLDs.). The public comment forum for these six requests can be found here: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/two-char-new-gtld-2014-06-12-en.

On 8 July 2014, a similar public comment period regarding six more RSEP proposals and amendments for the introduction of two-character domain names was opened. The six RSEP proposals are for the following twelve gTLDs: .deals, xn--fjq720a, .city, .xyz, .college, .gop, .trade, .webcam, .bid, .healthcare, .world, and .band. The public comment forum for these six requests can be found here: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/two-char-new-gtld-2014-07-08-en.

On 23 July 2014, a similar public comment period regarding seven more RSEP proposals and amendments for the introduction of two-character domain names was opened. The seven RSEP proposals are for the following thirty-four gTLDs: .luxury, .wang, xn--3bSt00M, xn--6qQ986B3xL, xn--czRu2D, xn--45Q11C, .build, .ren, .pizza, .restaurant, .gifts, .sarl, xn--55qx5d, xn--io0a7i and 20 TLDs associated with Top Level Domain Holdings Limited. The public comment forum for these seven requests can be found here: https://www.icann.org/public-comments/two-char-new-gtld-2014-07-23-en.

Section III: Relevant Resources

Section IV: Additional Information

Sold.Domains

About Konstantinos Zournas

Konstantinos studied Computer Engineering and Computer Science in London and lives in Athens, Greece. He works on domain names, websites and software development. Has been online since 1995 & domaining since 2002.

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