The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers answered criticism from the Association of National Advertisers, saying that its new top-level domain program adequately protects trademarks and prevents fraud.
The ANA sent a letter to ICANN on Aug. 4, saying that the program was harmful to intellectual property holders because the wide range of new TLDs would force them to buy their brands and invest in several domain names. The association also raised questions about whether ICANN followed its own procedures before approving the program in June.
In the reply letter, ICANN President and CEO Rod Beckstrom said that the ANA’s assertions “are either incorrect or problematic in several respects.”
Beckstrom included documentation of collaboration ICANN had with stakeholders regarding the new program, including responses it has issued to the ANA in the past.
Addressing worries that the new program will hurt trademark holders, Beckstrom said those concerns are unfounded. In reply to the ANA’s assertion that companies will have to apply for their own gTLDs (think .apple or .washpost) before other people buy them out from under their noses. Beckstrom said that the program is designed to encourage no such thing.
“Operating a gTLD means assuming a number of significant responsibilities; this is clearly not for everyone,” he wrote, adding that there are trademark protections in place to make sure that rightsholders have the first opportunity to secure the domain names they want and that there is both a suspension and dispute mechanism in place in cases of infringement.
ICANN will also require a more detailed “Whois” location and demographic profile of anyone registering for a new generic top-level domain, to make sure that it’s “easier to locate wrongdoers than in the current environment.”
ICANN said it will continue to review the program as it evolves.
In the letter, Beckstrom said that ICANN will “vigorously defend” its program and its model, and “its responsibility to broad public interest of the global Internet community, rather than to the specific interests of any particular group.”