There has been a lot of discussion about the GAC’s decision to object to the .AMAZON New gTLD application filed by Amazon, Inc. From the company’s perspective it did everything right. The Applicant Guidebook (AG) sections that deal with geographic names do not technically cover a term like “Amazon” because it does not fall under any of the exceptions listed in sec. 2.2.1.4.1 of the AG and is not a “country or territory” as defined therein.

The GAC’s Durban Communique¬†admits that there is a problem and recommends that changes be made to the AG in order prevent confusion in future New gTLD rounds. Specifically, Sec. 7 states:

“[t]he GAC recommends that ICANN collaborate with the GAC in refining, for future rounds, the AG with regard to the protection of terms with national, cultural, geographic and religious significance, in accordance with the 2007 GAC Principles on New gTLDs.”

The 2007 GAC Principles, which were cited as support by Brazil and the Amazon Cooperation Treaty (ACT) countries in their objections, states in section 2.2 that ICANN should avoid

“… country, territory, or place names, and country, territory, or regional language or people descriptions, unless in agreement with the relevant governments or public authorities.”

This language is arguably broader than the language that made it into the final version of the AG, and there lies the problem.

So how is ICANN going to fix this? One way could be to acknowledge the standing of certain types of non-governmental organizations (IGO’s) and treaties, such as the ACT countries, in the AG. The ACT happens to be an interesting example because its countries are tied together by a shared common territory, interest in the preservation of the Amazon Rainforest and have implemented a formally recognized treaty organization ratified by the member countries.

If ICANN chooses to broaden the listed exceptions to include IGO’s it will have to first define the term. IGO’s are notoriously amorphous structures, and there are lots of them – more than 6,000 of them according to Union of International Associations. Thus, ICANN will have to strike a balance between recognizing legit IGO’s and preventing every organization under the sun from being able to raise an objection.

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