April 10, 2017
.Feedback is still a hot topic and has been a blight on the existence of many trademark owners. On October 24th 2016, the registrar MarkMonitor published a blog article in which the company indicated that it supported several of its trademark owner customers willingness to challenge the practices of Top Level Spectrum (TLS), the registry in charge of the .feedback TLD.
.Feedback is a new gTLD which has the aim of being « used by brand owners to provide a convenient feedback channel for their public”. The particularity of this extension is to render the use of a mini-site template compulsory for collecting reviews from the public concerning a specific trademark or service. An example can be found at facebook.feedback.
Trademark owners such as Facebook, Adobe or Levis submitted a Public Interest Commitment Dispute Resolution Procedure (PICDRP) to ICANN to challenge the practices of the TLS registry regarding .feedback, notably arguing the non-respect of public interest commitments at ICANN as well as promises made when submitting its application.
ICANN designated a panel and responded by letter signed by Maguy Serad, ICANN Vice-President for contractual compliance, incriminating the TLS registry for the non-respect of its commitments. The letter lays out several grievances against the registry, including lack of transparency and openness, as well as the non-respect of its non-discrimination obligation. Other grievances include the absence of compulsory links and documentation imposed by ICANN on the registry website, the non-publication of an abuse contact address to be used by .feedback domain registrants for reporting abusive behaviour as well as a delay in the payment of ICANN fees.
The president of the TLS registry criticized the decision of the panel who “confused policy with a marketing program”. According to Jay Westerdal, the practices at issue which included special conditions for registration with different prices for trademark owners, as well as the obligation for the registrant to use a mini-site for reviews based on a standard template constitute a marketing strategy for .feedback domains and does not enter into conflict with the duties imposed by ICANN.
We will keep you updated on further developments.