Amazon Grabs for .Amazon Domain over Objections of Amazon River Countries

Amazon Grabs for .Amazon Domain over Objections of Amazon River Countries
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The nations of the Amazon rainforest have all but lost the battle over the dot Amazon domain (.Amazon), with the governing body, ICANN, saying that Amazon.com’s application for the .Amazon TLD can proceed. The Amazon basin nations, represented by the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) include Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela, Guyana and Suriname.

Amazon (the retailer) first conceived of, and applied for, the .amazon domain back in 2012, not long after ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) started accepting applications for vanity top level domains (TLDs). However, in 2013 the status of Amazon’s .amazon application was put on hold when some of the Amazon basin countries objected, saying that a corporation should not have a monopoly on a domain that is the name of a geographic region encompassing no fewer than 8 countries, a legendary river, and acres of rain forest. And hey, they were there first. So Amazon’s application was officially put into a “Will not proceed” status in 2013.

Amazon.com objected to its application for .amazon being sidelined, and filed a request for an independent review, pursuant to ICANN’s procedural guidelines. In Amazon’s request for the review, they claimed:

    “Bowing to political pressure from the governments of Brazil and Peru, ICANN’s Board of Directors (the Board) stopped the .AMAZON Applications from proceeding. None of the Board’s justifications for its decision withstands scrutiny.
  • First, the Board implicitly characterized the .AMAZON applied-for gTLDs as geographic names. There is no basis for it to have done so. The AGB lists categories of prohibited and restricted geographic names; those categories do not include either Amazon or its Japanese and Chinese equivalents. Thus, the Board departed without explanation or justification from its carefully defined and ICANN community-agreed application and evaluation procedures.
  • Second, the Board indicated that “exceptional circumstances” justified individual treatment of the .AMAZON Applications in the best interests of the global Internet community. However, the Board failed to identify what “exceptional circumstances” allowed it to treat the .AMAZON Applications differently. Moreover, an independent expert appointed by the International Chamber of Commerce rejected the argument that the .AMAZON gTLDs are not in the best interests of the Internet community. The decision is binding on ICANN, but the Board ignored it.
  • Third, the Board inexplicably cited Amazon’s good faith efforts to address the Brazilian and Peruvian government’s concerns, even though ICANN itself encouraged and facilitated certain of the discussions. It is axiomatic that settlement discussions cannot be used to a party’s detriment.

For its part, ICANN’s response includes the observation that “Despite Amazon’s claims that ICANN bowed to “political pressure” from Brazil and Peru and “abdicated its independent decision-making role,” the record shows that ICANN’s NGPC {New gTLD Program Committee} independently investigated the circumstances, considered extensive arguments made by Amazon, and even commissioned an independent legal expert to advise whether denial of Amazon’s Applications was inconsistent with international law – the primary legal contention Amazon was then making. The NGPC was careful, thorough, neutral, and objective in its decision to accept the GAC {Governmental Advisory Committee} consensus advice.”

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This interstitial skirmish was put to rest in 2017, when the Independent Review Panel concluded that ICANN’ had erred, putting Amazon’s application for the .amazon TLD back into play.

ICANN then asked for additional advice from the GAC, which in turn led to ICANN basically telling Amazon and the Amazon river basin countries to “work it out,” giving the parties until April 7, 2019, to work it out.

The deadline passed with no agreement or resolution between Amazon.com and the Amazon nations, and this week ICANN issued a resolution saying “Resolved (2019.05.15.13), the Board finds the Amazon corporation proposal of 17 April 2019 acceptable, and therefore directs the ICANN org President and CEO, or his designee(s), to continue processing of the .AMAZON applications according to the policies and procedures of the New gTLD Program. This includes the publication of the Public Interest Commitments (PICs), as proposed by the Amazon corporation, for a 30-day public comment period, as per the established procedures of the New gTLD program.”

Now, we’re pretty sure that Amazon is banking on few in the public caring about whether Amazon gets the .amazon domain – certainly not in enough numbers to make a difference.

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While public commenting for the .amazon issue are not yet open, this is where to post your public comment on the .amazon domain once it’s open for comments.


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