Feeds

ICANN backs auction of disputed domains

Gavel to break ties

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

The body behind the internet's addressing systems has said that it will settle disputes over who wins the right to new generic top level domains (gTLDs) by auction.

ICANN (International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) has said that auctions will be used if two organisations vying for the right to a gTLD are tied on other grounds.

ICANN announced earlier this summer that it would no longer limit the number of gTLDs to 21, and that almost any word or phrase could be registered as a domain.

The move has been condemned as a "nightmare" for brand owners because many will feel compelled to buy their brand's name on each of numerous new TLDs expected to appear.

ICANN's announcement that auctions will settle disputes over who will have the right to register words as domains is likely to be just as controversial.

The body announced in June that anyone can register any word as a TLD as long as it meets four conditions. "It must respect prior rights and marks, it mustn't be confusingly similar to any existing TLD, for example a .KOM would be too close to a .COM, if it represents a community, it must be with the full agreement of that community, and it must respect morality and public order," said ICANN chairman Peter Dengate Thrush at the time of the announcement.

If two applications are tied then ICANN has now said it would use an auction to determine who wins the right to own the domain.

"ICANN intends to use auctions in the new gTLD process as a tie-breaking mechanism, not the primary allocation mechanism, for the resolution of string contention among competing new gTLD applicants for identical or similar strings," said a consultation document discussing the move. "Auction would be the final means of settling any contention cases that have not been resolved at any of the previous stages in the process."

A report produced by consultancy Power Auctions said that a four year old paper produced by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) had backed auctions as the most efficient way to distribute domains.

"On balance the economic arguments favour the use of auctions in some form, where scarcity exists, in relation to the goals set by ICANN for allocation procedures," said that report. "They are particularly strong in relation to allocation decisions concerning to existing resources and where a ‘tie-breaker’ is needed during a comparative selection procedure for a new resource. In all cases, the best elements of comparative selection procedures could still be incorporated, at a prequalification stage for registries, using straightforward, transparent, and objective procedures that preserve the stability of the internet."

In its report, Power Auctions argued that auctions help to attach the correct value to domains. "Auctions are well suited to accomplishing the goal of allocative efficiency: Putting scarce resources into the hands of those who value them the most," said the report. "As such, the results of auctions tend to create greater social value than alternative allocation mechanisms."

In order to ensure fairness, the report also proposed a system of handicaps in favour of some kinds of applicants.

"Various devices can be considered for favoring disadvantaged bidders in an auction," it said. "For example, a 25 per cent bidding credit could be offered to community-based bidders whose community is located primarily in least-developed countries: a $300,000 bid from such a bidder would be viewed as equivalent to a $400,000 bid from a wealthy country."

Copyright © 2008, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Related link

ICANN's report (pdf)

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.