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Public Comment: Proposed .PRO Renewal Registry Agreement

9 March 2010

The proposed renewal of the .PRO registry agreement is posted for public comment at http://www.icann.org/en/tlds/agreements/pro/proposed-renewal-agreement-02mar10-en.pdf [PDF, 57 KB] and appendices at http://www.icann.org/en/tlds/agreements/pro/proposed-appendices-02mar10-en.pdf [PDF, 320 KB].

The .PRO TLD was approved during the 2000 proof-of-concept round of new gTLDs and its original agreement is due to expire on 27 May 2010. The proposed .PRO renewal agreement is fundamentally the same as what was negotiated and approved for .BIZ, also an unsponsored/restricted gTLD, in 2006.

There are elements of the proposed renewal agreement that vary from the current .PRO agreement and the substantive changes include:

Registry-Registrar Separation

The current .PRO Registry Agreement (see Section 3.5.3 below) does not have a prohibition against cross ownership of registry and registrar functions within the same operating entity. Currently, RegistryPro has two ICANN-accredited registrar sister companies (Domain People and Hostway Services, Inc.) and all three entities are wholly owned subsidiaries of Hostway Corp. As such, while the lines around ownership among the three entities may be clear, the issue of direct or indirect control is less apparent.

The issue of registry-registrar separation is the subject of an ongoing GSNO policy development process and is being discussed as an implementation detail of the new gTLD program implementation plan. It would not be fair or correct to RegistryPro to delay renewal of their registry agreement until registry-registrar integration work has completed. Proposed language (See Section 7.1(c) below) includes ownership and control restrictions from the effective date of the new .PRO agreement and also acknowledges the ongoing relationship in the two affiliated registrars.

  • Now: Section 3.5.3 of the current .PRO agreement provides that: Registry Operator shall not act as a registrar with respect to the Registry TLD. This shall not preclude Registry Operator from registering names within the domain of the Registry TLD in compliance with Subsection 3.6. This also shall not preclude an affiliate of Registry Operator from acting as a registrar with respect to the Registry TLD, provided that Registry Operator complies with the provisions of Subsections 3.5.4 and 3.5.5.

  • Proposed: Section 7.1(c) of the proposed .PRO agreement provides that: Restrictions on Acquisition of Ownership or Controlling Interest in Registrar. Registry Operator shall not acquire, directly or indirectly, control of, or a greater than fifteen percent ownership interest in, any ICANN-accredited registrar; provided, however that any ownership or controlling interest in any ICANN-accredited registrar as of the date of this Agreement held by Registry Operator or any of its affiliates shall not be in violation of this Section.

Digital Certificate Requirement

The current .PRO agreement, and specifically Appendices F and L, reference that registry operator will require ICANN-accredited registrars to provide digital certificates and other digital security services associated with each domain name. Further, registered names will be verified and periodically re-verified and will be signed by digital credentials (e.g., license number of certifying organization) in the registry database. RegistryPro will continue this process of verifying that registrants meet the registration restrictions defined in the proposed Appendix 11. RegistryPro has requested the requirement for ICANN-accredited registrars to provide digital certificates be eliminated for a number of reasons:

  • The requirement to make digital certificates available does not enhance the security, stability or reliability of .PRO or for their registrants;
  • There has been almost no demand for certificates. Of the nearly 40,000 .PRO registrations, just 150 registrants have purchased a digital certificate;
  • The requirement is administratively burdensome to Registrars that are bound by the RRA to offer a certificate with each .PRO name;
  • The market for certificates has opened up significantly since 2002 resulting in the availability of digital certificates from many sources and at low prices; and,
  • RegistryPro is required to pay a burdensome fixed annual fee for little or no benefit to registrants to a third party certificate provider, regardless of certificate volume, in addition to a charge for each certificate ordered and this expense is a financial burden to .PRO.

Comments on the proposed agreement can be posted to pro-renewal-2010@icann.org no later than 23:59 UTC on 7 April 2010, and viewed at http://forum.icann.org/lists/pro-renewal-2010/. Comments will be considered by the ICANN Board along with the proposed .PRO renewal agreement at its meeting on 22 April 2010.