Release of Country and Territory Names Within .BMW & .MINI New gTLDs

newgtldI don’t know why ICANN bothered with any of rules on reserved domains in New gTLD contracts and agreements. One after the other all the reserved domains are released anyway.

After the release of 2-character New gTLD domain names ICANN just opened a comment period for the release of country and territory domain names within .BMW and .MINI New gTLDs.

This Public Comment period aims at gathering community input on proposed amendments to the .BMW and .MINI Registry Agreements to allow the registration of country and territory names currently reserved under Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement. These amendments are intended to implement a request from the registry operator to offer a new registry service, which was submitted through the Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP) process.

Comment Period: 11 Dec 2014 23:59 UTC – 1 Jan 2015 23:59 UTC

Reply Period: 2 Jan 2015 23:59 UTC – 23 Jan 2015 23:59 UTC

Section I: Description, Explanation, and Purpose

Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement addresses the reservation and release of country and territory names. Registry Operators are required to reserve such names, and may propose either the release of specific country and territory names upon agreement with the relevant government(s), or the release of country and territory names subject to review by the Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN. Specifically, the Registry Agreement provides as follows:

The country and territory names (including their IDN variants, where applicable) contained in the following internationally recognized lists shall be withheld from registration or allocated to Registry Operator at All Levels:

4.1. the short form (in English) of all country and territory names contained on the ISO 3166-1 list, as updated from time to time, including the European Union, which is exceptionally reserved on the ISO 3166-1 list, and its scope extended in August 1999 to any application needing to represent the name European Union <http://www.iso.org/iso/support/country_codes/iso_3166_code_lists/iso-3166-1_decoding_table.htm>;

4.2. the United Nations Group of Experts on Geographical Names, Technical Reference Manual for the Standardization of Geographical Names, Part III Names of Countries of the World; and

4.3. the list of United Nations member states in 6 official United Nations languages prepared by the Working Group on Country Names of the United Nations Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names; provided, that the reservation of specific country and territory names (including their IDN variants according to the registry operator IDN registration policy, where applicable) may be released to the extent that Registry Operator reaches agreement with the applicable government(s). Registry Operator must not activate such names in the DNS; provided, that Registry Operator may propose the release of these reservations, subject to review by ICANN‘s Governmental Advisory Committee and approval by ICANN. Upon conclusion of Registry Operator’s designation as operator of the registry for the TLD, all such names that remain withheld from registration or allocated to Registry Operator shall be transferred as specified by ICANN. Registry Operator may self-allocate and renew such names without use of an ICANN accredited registrar, which will not be considered Transactions for purposes of Section 6.1 of the Agreement.

On 13 November 2014, Bayerische Motoren Werke Aktiengesellschaft, the Registry Operator of .BMW and .MINI top-level domains (TLDs), submitted a request under the Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP) to allow the release of all country and territory names, as defined in Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement, at all levels of the .BMW and .MINI TLDs. The request is available for public information at: https://www.icann.org/en/system/files/files/request-2014061-multiple-13nov14-en.pdf [PDF, 17 KB]

As provided by the Registry Services Evaluation Policy (RSEP), ICANN has undertaken a preliminary determination on whether the proposal might raise significant Competition, Security or Stability issues. ICANN‘s preliminary review (based on the information provided) did not identify any such issues for this request.

In addition, as required per Section 4 of Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement, the proposed release of the reserved country and territory names is subject to review by ICANN‘s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC). Thus, the request has been forwarded to the GAC for consideration and also the amendment to implement this request is being posted for comment by the community.

Section II: Background

The proposed amendment to .BMW and .MINI Registry Agreements to implement the registry services as described in the RSEP proposal would be one of the first of its kind in the new gTLD space, along with the proposal for the release of country and territory names in the .NEUSTAR TLD. The current language in Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement regarding the required reservation of country and territory names was included in response to advice from the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) during the development of the New gTLD Program (see this exchange of letters between the ICANN President and the GAC dated 17 March 2009 [PDF, 245 KB] and 24 April 2009 [PDF, 95 KB].

Furthermore, the GAC commented on this topic in the Singapore Communiqué [PDF, 449 KB] published on 27 March 2014. 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 further 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 confirmed its intent to review the proposed release of country and territory names as well (see 10 September 2014 letter from the GAC Chair to the Chairman of the ICANN Board).

In the GAC‘s Los Angeles Communiqué [PDF, 128 KB] (15 October 2014), the GAC noted that noted that “It will review the use of country and territory names at the second level and advice the ICANN Board in due course”.

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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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