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  • ICANN resolution saw “no public policy reason” not to proceed with ‘.amazon’ applications
  • In latest development presidents of four countries brand decision a “serious precedent”
  • Focus likely to intensify in run-up to ICANN meeting in Marrakech next month

The presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru have signed a declaration hitting out at ICANN’s recent resolution to proceed with Amazon’s application for the ‘.amazon’ TLD. The move keeps the dispute – which centres on the interplay with brand names and geographic terms – firmly within the policy realm as the seven year battle moves to resolution.

While the dispute over the fate of Amazon’s applications goes back to 2012, momentum towards a decision has accelerated over the past two months. In March we reported that ICANN had passed a resolution that ended the organisation's long-standing efforts to lead a facilitation process aimed at settling a dispute between Amazon and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) over the former’s application for the ‘.amazon’ TLD and two internationalised domain names. The resolution also established an (extendable) four-week period for the two parties to find “a mutually acceptable solution”, from which ICANN would request a proposal from Amazon on how it would address the concerns of ACTO member states and then make a final decision on the fate of the string.

In April, ICANN then wrote to ACTO to note that, as the initial period had expired with no request to extend it, it is requesting the aforementioned proposal from Amazon – which it will then review and “take action as it deems appropriate”. Days later ICANN publishedAmazon’s modified proposal which the company stated “enhances the global visibility of the Amazonia region, safeguards the culture and heritage of the Amazonia region, and protects against misuse of the TLDs”.

That proposal consisted of a Public Interest Commitment (PIC) that stated the company would not use as domain names in each contested TLD those terms that have a primary significance to the culture and heritage of the Amazonia region. The organisation would also provide nine domain names in each ‘.amazon’ TLD to be used for non-commercial purposes by ACTO and its member states to enhance the visibility of the region, and block from all use up to 1,500 domain names in each TLD that have a primary significance to the culture and heritage of the Amazonia region. It added that its own use of the TLD would be highly restricted and boast “top-tier” security.

This paved the way for a 15 May ICANN board resolution, which stated that “that there is no public policy reason for why the ‘.amazon’ applications should not be allowed to proceed” and directed that the applications continue to be processed, including the  publication of the PICs proposed by Amazon corporation.

Prior to the public comment period, the momentum has clearly shifted in Amazon’s favour - leading to the latest backlash from a number of ACTO members. In a special declaration of the Andean Presidential Council, issued on Sunday by the presidents of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, “deep concern” was expressed over the ICANN resolution, which they contend sets a “serious precedent” by prioritising private commercial interests over public policy considerations, and breaches the 2013 Montevideo Declaration.

Amongst other things, the latter – following a gathering of the fourth Ministerial Conference on the Information Society in Latin America and the Caribbean – rejected “any attempt to appropriate, without the consent of the respective countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, the denominations ‘amazon’ and ‘patagonia’ in any language, or any other generic top-level domain (gTLD) names referring to geographical areas or historical, cultural or natural features, which should be preserved as part of the heritage and cultural identity of the countries of the region”.

Back in 2013, the US clothing manufacturer Patagonia withdrew its application for ‘.patagonia’ following early warning objections from the Argentinian and Chilean governments, with the term also referring to a geographical area that the two countries share. In the dispute over the ‘.amazon’ TLDs, however, the ecommerce giant has proven more determined to stay the course and has sought to ease the fears of government objectors. While the missive from a number of country presidents will register with the ICANN board, a decision needs to be made – attempts at a negotiated solution having effectively stalled. The latest statement arguably doesn’t contain new objections that give cause to reverse ICANN’s previous decision to proceed with the tech company’s applications. As it stands, Amazon’s bid to control its company name as a TLD is almost at a (positive) end.

However, this being the ICANN world, it also wouldn’t surprise if there are further curveballs to come…

To read the complete article please visit: https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/brand-management/governments-hit-back-over-icanns-amazon-tld-resolution-near-decade-battle