.eco is a generic top level domain for use by "any business, government, non-profit or individual working toward a sustainable future.". The TLD is operated by Big Room Inc. a certified B Corporation.
The .eco TLD has established baseline requirements for those who wish to register .eco domain names. Applicants for .eco domains must establish a profile with the registry, identify the "areas of sustainability" that the applicant is focused on, and "pledge to support positive change for the planet and to be honest when sharing information on environmental actions."
The .eco domain was launched via a 60 day end date sunrise for registrants of ICANN's Trademark Clearinghouse, followed by a two week quiet period.
Public launch began with a 7 day early access period, followed by general availability.
Key launch dates:
- February 1 - April 2, 2017 - Sunrise (end-date)
- April 18 - 25, 2017 - Early Access Program
- April 25, 2017 - General Availability
Domain Granting Program
In September 2016, Big Room announced that it would be granting up to 500 domains to the environmental community. The grants would form a permanent reserved list of domains only accessible to environmental non-profits.
Over 350 organizations from 50 countries expressed their views on what names should be reserved for community use.
Application History & Controversies
.eco was one of the most publicly contested gTLD applications. By early 2009 Big Room Inc. and Dot Eco LLC had declared their intent to apply for .eco. Dot Eco LLC was endorsed by Al Gore, the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation, but eventually chose not to seek community status. Big Room Inc. was initially endorsed by Green Cross International and WWF International.
In August 2009, Dot Eco LLC released a 'green paper' critiquing Big Room's approach. Big Room did not respond to the critique other than that it was 'unfortunate'. Media characterization of the conflict generated significant press coverage, ranging from the New York Times to the Financial Times. Following this, in 2011, Al Gore withdrew support for Dot Eco LLC. A spokesman explained that they had decided to focus on global climate issues. Despite losing Gore's support, Dot Eco LLC maintained its intention to submit a .eco application. TLDH eventually acquired Dot Eco LLC and then applied for .eco without requesting community priority.
In the interim, Big Room's proposal had gathered the support of more than 50 of the world's leading environmental organizations, including UN Environment, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, WWF, Greenpeace, and many others. These groups had collaborated independently on developing a unified vision for how .eco could support the interests of the community. This vision formed the backbone of the community section of Big Room's .eco application.
In 2012 it was revealed that four companies applied for .eco - Big Room, Donuts, Planet.eco and TLDH. Of these, only Big Room sought community designation. All applicants passed initial financial, technical and operational evaluation, except for Planet.eco, which failed, scoring 1/12 points. Planet.eco then sought extended evaluation, which it passed. Planet.eco then filed a limited rights objection against TLDH, which failed. Big Room Inc. then elected to undertake community priority evaluation, which it passed.
Donuts and TLDH then filed a reconsideration request to the ICANN Board, attempting to reverse this decision. The Board rejected the request. The rejection was then appealed to an independent panel, which also rejected the attempt. No applicant contested the ICANN Board's adoption of the panel's decision.
As a result, following a four year evaluation and appeals process, Big Room now operates the .eco registry.
planet .ECO Trademark Litigation
Separate to the .eco application contention, planet .ECO filed a trademark infringement case against Big Room Inc. and Dot Eco LLC on March 2, 2012 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Southern California. The complainant asked the court to order Big Room and Dot Eco LLC to stop infringing on their mark and force plaintiffs to withdraw their .eco gTLD applications. Dot Eco LLC responded to the complaint with an argument that the trademark was obtained illegally by Planet.ECO and that it should therefore be cancelled by the court. Big Room filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. That motion was granted. planet .ECO subsequently withdrew the case against Dot Eco LLC.
European Commission Communiqué to ICANN
The European Commission flagged all applications for .eco outside of ICANN's defined remediation processes. Just after ICANN's GAC issued its Early Warnings, which are advice given from one GAC member country to an applicant warning it of potential issues within its application, the European Commission issued a letter to all applicants within the new gTLD program. The letter highlights 58 applications that "could raise issues of compatibility with the existing legislation .. and/or with policy positions and objectives of the European Union." It notes a desire to open a dialogue with each offending applicant. Big Room entered into a dialogue and as a result of those conversations - and in dialogue with the environmental community - updated its PIC spec to include specific references to issues raised by the Commission. The Commission specifically noted that this objection is not a part of the GAC Early Warning process, and goes on to note that "the Commission does not consider itself legally bound to [ICANN] processes," given that there is not legal agreement between the two bodies.
Economic Cooperation Organization Complaint to ICANN
An international governmental organization, the Economic Cooperation Organization, sent a letter of complaint to ICANN in February 2013 given that they use the 'eco' acronym for their work. In its letter the ECO states that it “expresses its disapproval and non-endorsement to all the applications for the .eco gTLD and requests the ICANN and the new gTLD application evaluators to not approve these applications.”. However, neither the Economic Cooperation Organization nor any of its member states objected to any .eco application via the ICANN Governmental Advisory Committee or as part of the new gTLD program. ICANN did not therefore act on this request, since it was not made through the organization's multi-stakeholder process.
planet .ECO Legal Rights Objection Against Top Level Domain Holdings
A Legal Rights Objection was filed by the applicant planet .ECO, LLC, against applicant Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd.. The objection was rejected by a WIPO panelist on August 26, 2013. The Determination noted: "However, even assuming that, in view of the substantial identity of the applied-for string and the mark .ECO, there could be a likelihood of confusion between the two, the Panel finds that it would not be “impermissible”, since there is no evidence that the public would perceive it as a source identifier as opposed to as a descriptive term or prefix relating to ecology or environment."
Big Room Inc. Community Priority Evaluation
On 6 October 2014 the Economist Intelligence Unit, ICANN's community priority evaluator, awarded Big Room Inc.'s .eco application priority, scoring the application 14/16 points. In its evaluation the evaluation panel noted:
Many of the major catalysts of the modern environmental movement have continued or worsened in recent years, and the organizations founded with missions of environmental advocacy have redoubled their efforts. The number and breadth of environmental laws and protocols will continue to grow.
The effects of climate change are especially long-term and many of the organizations in the application’s delineated community advocate for long-term solutions and measures that they have committed to seeing through. The Panel has therefore determined that the community as defined in the application demonstrates longevity.
The pursuits of the .ECO community are of a lasting, non-transient nature. In addition, as mentioned previously, the community as defined in the application has awareness and recognition of a community among its members. This is because the community is defined in terms of its association with, and active participation in, environmental activities.
Its members are actively committed to environmental causes, such as sustainable use of the environment and environmental conservation and preservation.
Donuts and TLDH use of ICANN Accountability Mechanisms
On October 24, 2014, approximately 2 weeks after passing the community priority evaluation, the contention set status was changed to "on-hold" pending the resolution of ICANN accountability mechanisms, including a reconsideration request submitted by Little Birch, LLC (Donuts) and Minds + Machines Group Limited (née Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd). On 18 November 2014 the ICANN Board issued a final determination denying this reconsideration request.
On February 20, 2015 Big Room Inc. also submitted a reconsideration request  to ICANN pertaining to delays associated with the Cooperative Engagement Process. The request stated: "Big Room Inc. (“Big Room”) respectfully requests Board reconsideration of ICANN staff inaction in connection with its failure to terminate the ongoing Cooperative Engagement Process (“CEP”) pertaining to the .ECO generic top-level domain (gTLD) subject matter." The request was withdrawn prior to ICANN Board consideration of the matter as a result of the CEP being terminated.
Subsequently, an independent review panel was convened to consider whether the ICANN Board Governance Committee acted appropriately in issuing a final determination denying planet.ECO's reconsideration request.
A hearing was held on December 7 2015. A final declaration was issued on February 12 2016.  The determination upheld Big Room's .eco application CPE evaluation result, noting: "And, "[a]s for the .eco IRP, it is clear that the Reconsideration Request [14-46] was misconceived and was little more than an attempt to appeal the CPE decision. Again, therefore, the .eco IRP was always going to fail." (Final Declaration at ¶ 156.)"
The ICANN Board adopted the final declaration March 10 2016 . After a board member expressed concern that the March 10th adoption of the final declaration might have been subject to procedural irregularities, the ICANN Board issued a second resolution on May 27, 2016 reconfirming adoption of the final declaration.
Delegation to Big Room Inc.
- [https://support.go.eco/en/articles/578589-what-questions-do-i-need-to-answer-in-my-eco-profile Go.eco - What questions do I need to answer in my .eco profile?
- .ECO U.S. Trademark, Registrant planet.ECO LLC. Retrieved 03 Nov 2015.
- Green Domain Sparks War of Words, BBCNews.com
- Al Gore Mikhail Gorbachev Control Eco Domain, BusinessGreen.com
- USPTO Cancellation number 92051924
- USPTO Cancellation number 92055469
- USPTO Cancellation number 92055197
- USPTO Cancellation number 92060403
- USPTO Cancellation number 92060403
- DomainIncite.com/Docs Published 27 Nov 2012, Retrieved 11 Dec 2012
- Europe Rejects ICANNs Authority As it Warns of Problems with 58 New gTLDs, DomainIncite.com Published 27 Nov 2012, Retrieved 11 Dec 2012
- Iranian Org Not Happy About Eco Bids, DomainIncite.com Published & Retrieved 20 Feb 2013
- LRO Cases, WIPO.int
- Expert Determination - Legal Rights Objection, planet .ECO, LLC v. TLDH PDF
- [ICANN - Final Determination, Nov. 18, 2014
- [ICANN Case Record - .eco and .hotel
- Reconfirming the Board Resolution regarding .hotel and .eco, May 27, 2016
- IANA Delegation Record
- Registry Agreement - Big Room Inc. & ICANN