Letter from Timothy Gelman to Louis Touton Regarding Amendment to .pro Registry Agreement
(15 November 2002)
November 15, 2002
VIA EMAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr. Louis Touton
RE: RegistryPro Defensive Name Registration Proposal
RegistryPro has requested modification of its Registry Agreement with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to offer Defensive Name Registrations (DNRs) in the .pro top-level domain (TLD). We have submitted a proposal, along with a statement of our advisory board, and a modified version of Appendices G and L of our Registry Agreement, which respectively outline the fees and a description of defensive registrations. It is our belief that upon review of the proposal by the ICANN staff and the ICANN board, it will be clear that the DNR service we are looking to provide is necessary to provide for the smoothest possible launch of the .pro TLD and to maintain the integrity and trust that .pro is intended to represent.
RegistryPro's proposed DNR service would permit owners of registered trademarks and service marks and professional registrants to register a (non-resolving) .pro domain name defensively. In addition, professionals qualified to register names within established profession-specific second-level domains (PS-SLDs) would be able to register (non-resolving) .pro domain names defensively, even if domain-name registrations are not yet available for their jurisdiction because a verification method has not yet been established. In both cases, RegistryPro seeks to offer the DNR product to preserve the integrity of the .pro TLD and avoid unnecessary disputes.
The proposed service would offer three types of DNRs depending upon the needs and qualifications of the registrant.
(1) Premium Intellectual Property DNR. This product would be available for trademark owners looking to entirely block an exact trademark or service mark across all profession-specific sub-level domains ("PS-SLDs"). For example, owners of distinctive marks may seek to protect their trademarks within all of <trademark>.law.pro, <trademark>.med.pro, <trademark>.cpa.pro, and the other established variants of these.
(2) Basic Intellectual Property DNR. This product is designed to block exact trademarks from an individual PS-SLD (e.g. .med.pro, .law.pro, .cpa.pro).
(3) Standard Registration. This product is designed to permit potential registrants, located in any jurisdiction (even if no verification mechanism (required for the issuance of a .pro name) has yet been established), to register a .pro name defensively. (As you know, the Registry will initially provide such verification services in a limited number of countries during the initial launch during the first quarter of 2003. Additionally, a number of local registrars are also in discussions with the Registry to establish local mechanisms.) For example, if a Japanese company would like to protect a domain name that it may seek to register for use when .pro domains become available in Japan, the company may seek a DNR in the interim. A DNR could therefore later be converted to a live name when the appropriate local verification mechanism is established by RegistryPro (in consultation with its Advisory Board) and the registrant provides all necessary information to satisfy that local verification regime (e.g. www.bengoshigroup.law.pro).
The following is a brief statement by RegistryPro providing further explanation of why we view this service as integral to a successful launch and why it is consistent with the offering that is already provided for in our Registry Agreement.
The .pro TLD is restricted to registrants who establish that they are licensed or otherwise accredited to provide professional services in the medical, legal or accounting fields. Under the .pro Registry Agreement, either the Registry or registrars are required to verify the eligibility of registrants before granting a name. RegistryPro is keenly aware that the success of this top-level domain depends in large part on the integrity of the registration restrictions and verification procedures.
One of the challenges faced by the Registry and registrars is that the process of reviewing the professional eligibility of registrants varies for each profession and in each jurisdiction in which a registrant may be licensed or granted professional accreditation. Thus, the establishment of verification systems requires modification of the basic verification principles in each jurisdiction. At this time, the Registry, local registrars and third party providers are actively working to launch the .pro TLD in other jurisdictions on a rolling basis.
While it is not possible to have the required verification mechanisms in place for all markets on the date of the Registry's launch, the DNR service will provide all registrants globally with an equal opportunity to register in the .pro domain name space.
By offering DNRs, registrants who are located outside of the initial launch jurisdiction will be provided with an opportunity to protect either their professional name or a trademark or service mark. In the case of Standard DNRs, the service will provide potential registrants across the globe (who will have to provide evidence of their eligibility for the DNR) with an opportunity to register non-functioning names defensively, and preserve them for future use, at a reasonable price point, consistent with other comparable offerings ($1000 per each string in one PS-SLD). This service is consistent with the sunrise registration service (already provided for in the Registry Agreement) that will only be open to registrants within the initial launch of the .pro TLD.
It is our belief that through the DNR service, the Registry will likely decrease the number of potential claims filed by trademark registration owners under the current UDRP process. Through the IP DNR service, intellectual property owners will be provided with a simple way to block strings (only those strings that are identical to the word portion of their valid trademark registrations), at a price that is high enough to prevent frivolous defensive registrations $1000 or $1500 for a four-year term, depending on whether the defensive registrant wants to block a particular string in all PS-SLDs).
The DNR service we propose is not a new service, with similar services having been implemented both by the operators of .name and .coop with acceptance by the user community. The defensive offering is necessary to provide all registrants, despite their location, with some way to participate in the .pro domain name space from day one. Moreover, it is our sincere hope that even until such time as verification mechanisms are established in new markets, by RegistryPro initiative or together with local registrars, will be able to assist defensive registrants in obtaining live domain name registrations through a manual procedure. By having a defensive process in place for professionals to reserve the name of their choice, the Registry or registrars will be in a position to expedite such a process.
Finally, the need for the DNR service has become clear to the Registry in view of our recent discussions with users, registrars and other members of the community who have expressed concerns over protecting the names in locations outside of the initial launch. We believe the DNR Service is a useful and constructive addition to the Registry, and will not dilute the requirements for registration of resolving domain names within the Registry.
In light of the successful nature of the launch of defensive name services by other new TLDs, and the potential harm of preventing legitimate registrants and mark holders from participating in the launch of .pro, it is our hope that the Board will approve the service using the "quick look" evaluation described by you in the General Counsel's Analysis of VeriSign Global Registry Services' Request for Amendment to Registry Agreement, dated April 17, 2002. Given our planned launch in early 2003, we hope that the ICANN board can appreciate that timing is of the essence with regard to gaining approval of this proposal to ensure that we are able to address technical issues, work with registrars and educate the user community.
We welcome the opportunity to answer any questions or comments that you may have about our request.
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