By Trevor Little
March 27 2012
The Generic Names Supporting Organisation (GNSO) Council will recommend that ICANN protect the International Red Cross and International Olympic Committee names at the top level in new gTLDs, following a tense round of voting on the issue. While the resolution passed by a single vote, Non-Commercial Stakeholder Group (NCSG) members were vocal in their criticism of the policy development process.
The Government Advisory Committee (GAC) previously encouraged ICANN to commit to a list of almost 40 terms that will be banned from the first round of gTLD applications, with variants of the OLYMPIC, OLYMPIAD, RED CROSS and RED CRESCENT trademarks among the so-called ‘Strings Ineligible for Delegation’. The proposals were due to be voted on during ICANN’s Costa Rica meeting earlier this month, but the vote was deferred at the request of the NCSG.
The NCSG’s request was based on the ongoing public comment period, which it argued should be closed before a vote could be taken. However, the delay, as argued by David Taylor, partner at Hogan Lovells and IP representative for Europe on the GNSO Council, “would put it past the close of the application window and thus effectively defeat the motion”, leading to last night’s GNSO expedited meeting (timed to allow resolution of the issue prior to the close of the gTLD application window on April 12).
The motion to support protection for the two organisations passed by one vote (53.8% in favour), with six NCSG members abstaining in protest. Taylor’s vote, the last to be cast, proved the decider.
In their abstention statements, NCSG members rallied against the way the policy had found its way to the voting floor. In particular, members pointed to the fact that the parties had lobbied for additional protection through the GAC, rather than through the GNSO, with one abstainer stating: “This entire process has been a complete circumvention of the multi-stakeholder, bottom-up policy development process. It has been a sham of a proposal cooked up by a couple of lobbyists and shoved down the GNSO’s throat.”
A statement read on behalf of NCSG member William Drake expanded: “Once the board, in reaction to GAC advice, made a decision on the creation of new policies concerning a new form of reserved names, the GNSO did not undertake a proper – albeit accelerated – development process on the questions the board forwarded to the council. The GNSO council was faced with a vote on a policy created by a drafting team but which has never been through a policy development process… This process has been end-to-end irregularity. This motion is illegitimate and should not have been brought to a vote.”
Despite the abstentions, the motion was passed and the race is now on to gain ICANN board approval before the gTLD application window closes.
A recording of yesterday’s meeting is available here.
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