Summary of the GeoTLDs Group Meeting in London

July 4, 2013 London hosted a meeting of the group of applicants for geographic top-level domains (GeoTLDs). The meeting was attended by the experts of the companies and organisations applying totally to more than 30 TLDs for the cities and regions of the world. Representatives of the Foundation for Assistance for Internet Technologies and Infrastructure Development informed the group members on the progress of the .MOSCOW and .МОСКВА TLDs implementation.

In a welcome speech to the attendees of the event Kit Malthouse, London’s Deputy Mayor, underlined the importance of geographical domains as a tool enabling to emphasize the reference of online content to a specific city or region.

One of the key topics of the meeting was the current status of the New gTLD Program, in particular, the progress of preparing the documents regulating the operation of new top-level domains. The event attendees focused on the discussion of the requirements currently developed by ICANN in order to protect interests of trademark owners in new extensions.

The applicants for geographic domains noted:

  • The necessity to elaborate the procedure enabling geographical string registries to reserve domain names for the needs of the respective cities or regions. Examples of such domains are,, etc. The possibility to reserve these domain names shall be available initially, before the launch of Sunrise periods in geographic extensions.
  • The necessity to provide the opportunity for the owners of some categories of trademarks not registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) to participate in Sunrise periods for geographical domains. This step is important for local businesses representing a specific region or city. On the one hand the registration of trademarks in TMCH for them is pointless and often costs too much. Nevertheless, small companies may be interested in registration of a domain name in a TLD dedicated to the territory they are working in. According to the GeoTLDs Group, such companies owning a trademark (even not registered in TMCH) shall be eligible to participate in Sunrise phases for geographical top-level domains.

FAITID representatives further noted that in a number of jurisdictions (in particular, in Russia) lack of priorities for domain name registration in Sunrise for the owners of trademarks valid on the territory of this jurisdiction constitutes a breach of legislation.

Therefore, if a top-level domain registry falls under this jurisdiction, it will be obliged to:

  • Provide the owners of the trademarks valid in this jurisdiction the opportunity to participate in Sunrise, whether they are registered in TMCH or not.
  • During Sunrise provide to such trademark owners the priority, at least the same as for the owners of trademarks registered in TMCH.

As part of London session there was a conference call with Karen Lentz, ICANN representative, during which GeoTLDs members voiced their suggestions regarding the development of the rights protection mechanisms in New gTLD. The official position of the group on this issue will be articulated in a special letter to be submitted to ICANN.

GeoTLD applicants also noted a small demand for TMCH services – by the present moment only 3,000 trademarks are registered the Clearinghouse. With this in view the geographical extension registries in cooperation with the registrars intend to promote TMCH among their targeted audiences.

Another topic of the GeoTLDs session was the further group structuring. The attendees of the event voted for the getting formal ICANN constituency status for the group. This will enable geographical TLD applicants to take an active part in the ICANN policy development processes and represent their interests more efficiently. Members of the GeoTLDs will start the development of the charter for the constituency shortly.

The next meeting of the group will be held 14 July 2013 in Durban during the 47th International ICANN Public Meeting. In autumn the group will have a session in Moscow. Geographical domain applicants are also organizing the panel at the Digital Marketing & gTLD Strategy Congress (London, 26-27 September, 2013) and will speak at the Conference in Munich (27-29 October, 2013).