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Old 29th April 2010, 08:51 PM
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New gTLD Recommendation

New gTLD Recommendation
For review and approval by the GNSO Council
1.0 Background
In the GNSO Council’s final report to the Board regarding the introduction of new gTLDs ( ), Recommendation 2 states, “Strings must not be confusingly similar to an existing top-level domain or a Reserved Name.” In the latest version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook, version 3 (DAG3), which can be found at, the String Review step in the Initial Evaluation process includes a test to determine “Whether the applied-for gTLD string is so similar to others that it would cause user confusion” (Section 2.1).

Section goes on to describe the String Similarity Review as follows:

“This review involves a preliminary comparison of each applied-for gTLD string against existing TLDs and against other applied-for strings. The objective of this review is to prevent user confusion and loss of confidence in the DNS.

“The review is to determine whether the applied-for gTLD string is so similar to one of the others that it would create a probability of detrimental user confusion if it were to be delegated into the root zone. The visual similarity check that occurs during Initial Evaluation is intended to augment the objection and dispute resolution process (see Module 3, Dispute Resolution Procedures) that addresses all types of similarity.

“This similarity review will be conducted by an independent String Similarity Panel.”

In its work on the topic of internationalized generic top level domain names (gTLDs), the GNSO IDNG Drafting Team (DT) discovered what it believes is a possible missing element in the String Similarity Review process that may be critical in achieving the objectives of GNSO Recommendation 2. The DT discussed various circumstances where strings that may be designated as visually similar may not be detrimentally similar and believes that both factors must be considered in the initial string similarity review as well as in any subsequent reviews that may occur as a part of dispute resolution procedures if those occur.

The IDNG DT identified two cases that illustrate their concern and recognizes that there could be others.

The IDNG DT noted that DAG3 does not allow for extended evaluation for the case of initial string evaluation related to the issue of confusing similarity of strings and recommends that the next version of the DAG be modified to do so. That then raises the issue with regard to what criteria should be in the extended evaluation process.
2.0 Proposed Motion

• The Draft Applicant Guidebook, Version 3 does not include an option for an extended evaluation for strings that fail the initial evaluation for confusing similarity and likelihood to confuse;
• The IDN Drafting Team established by the GNSO Council has discussed various circumstances where strings that may be designated as confusingly similar in the initial evaluation may be able to present a case showing that the string is not detrimentally similar to another string;
• The GNSO Council in Recommendation #2 on the GNSO Final Report on the Introduction of New gTLDs in September 2007 intended to prevent confusing and detrimental similarity and not similarity that could serve the users of the Internet;
• The IDN Drafting Teams also discussed the possibility of creating a Working Group to further discuss the condition under which such non-detrimental similarity could occur and the conditions under which such similarity could be allowed. The Design Team was, however, unable to reach consensus on recommending the creation of such a working group at this time.


The following letter be sent to Kurt Pritz, and copied to the ICANN Board, requesting that Module 2 in the next version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook regarding "Outcomes of the String Similarity Review" be amended to allow applicants to request Extended Review under terms similar to those provided for other issues such as "DNS Stability: String Review Procedure".

To: Kurt Pritz and members of the ICANN New GTLD Implementation Team,

The GNSO Council requests a change to Module 2 of the Draft Applicant Guidebook. Specifically, we request that the section on "Outcomes of the String Similarity Review" be amended to allow applicants to request Extended Review under terms equivalent to those provided for other issues such as "DNS Stability: String Review Procedure". We further request that a section be added on String Similarity - Extended Review that parallels other such sections in Module 2.

This request is seen as urgent because there are conditions under which it may be justified for applicants for a string, which has been denied further processing based on visual confusing similarity by the Initial Evaluation, to request extended evaluation to evaluate extenuating circumstances in the application that may make the application one where such similarity would not constitute detrimental similarity. This may occur, inter alia, in cases such as:

• The same registry operator (for an existing gTLD or a proposed new gTLD) could apply for a string that is similar to an existing or applied for string in a manner that is not detrimentally similar from a user point of view. For example, it is possible that an applicant could apply for both a Letter-Hyphen-Digit (LDG) gTLD in ASCII and a corresponding Internationalized Domain Name (IDN) gTLD that could be deemed to be similar but not cause detrimental confusion that the GNSO recommendation was trying to avoid.
• A situation where there is an agreement between a new applicant Registry Operator and the Registry Operator of an existing LDH gTLD that allows for better service for the users in the geographical area where the new gTLD will be offered. For example, MuseDoma, the registry operator for .museum could enter into an agreement with a new gTLD applicant to offer an IDN version of .museum for a specific language community. The two strings might be judged to be similar but not detrimentally similar.

We thank you for your prompt attention to this GNSO council request.
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