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Status: Delegated
Registry Provider: Neustar
Type: Brand TLD
Priority #: 1072 - Alibaba Group Holding Limited

More information: NTLDStatsLogo.png

.taobao is a Brand TLD delegated in ICANN's New gTLD Program. Alibaba Group Holding Limited's application succeeded and the TLD was delegated to the Root Zone on 21 January 2016.[1][2]

Application Details

The following is excerpted from the applicant's response to question #18:

"The Applicant (hereinafter referred to as “Alibaba”) is a privately held holding company which operates a variety of businesses through a number of subsidiaries and affiliates (collectively referred to as ʺAlibaba Groupʺ). Alibaba Group was founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, a pioneer who has aspired to help make the Internet accessible, trustworthy and beneficial for everyone. Since then, Alibaba Group has become a global leader in the field of electronic commerce.

Alibaba Group operates, through its subsidiaries and affiliates, a family of Internet-based businesses including online marketplaces that facilitate business-to-business (B2B) international and domestic China trade, retail business-to-consumer (B2C) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) platforms, payment platforms, shopping search engine and data-centric cloud computing services. Alibaba Group reaches Internet users in more than 240 countries and regions, and including its affiliated entities, employs more than 25,000 people in some 70 cities in the Greater China, India, Japan, Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

In addition, Alibaba Group’s affiliates also provide other Internet based services, such as software applications, domain name registrations, website hosting and solutions, email hosting and technology-related consulting services on various marketplaces and platforms. Most of the operations of Alibaba Group are directed from the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”).

Alibaba Group’s major shareholders are the global search engine provider, Yahoo! Inc., and the Japan-based telecommunication service provider, Softbank Corp., both are Internet business giants.

Over the past years, Alibaba Group has built a global exposure and a truly international clientele. One of the subsidiaries of Alibaba Group, Alibaba.com Limited, has been listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange since November 2007 (HKSE: 1688.HK).

Since 1999, Alibaba Group has developed and launched various businesses and activities, most of them have been traded and promoted under the highly reputable “Alibaba” brand, including but not limited to “Alibaba Group”, “Alibaba.com”, “Alibaba Japan”, and more recently, “Alibaba Cloud Computing”. Other than the “Alibaba” brand, Alibaba Group also established other core brands, such as “TAOBAO” and “TMALL”.

In May 2003, Alibaba Group founded the brand “TAOBAO” (in Chinese “淘宝”) at www.taobao.com (also known as “淘宝网” in Chinese), a Chinese language B2C and C2C Internet retail platform, focused on Chinese consumers but also available to consumers outside the PRC through the services of various agents. In the last eight years, the B2C and C2C platform operated under the “TAOBAO” brand (the ʺTaobao Marketplaceʺ) has grown to become Chinaʹs largest online retail platform and the primary online shopping destination in the PRC. The Taobao Marketplace’s transaction volume exceeded RMB200 billion (US$29 billion) in 2009. According to government statistics, online retail equaled approximately 1.98% of the PRC’s total retail trade in 2009. According to China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the PRC had 485 million Internet users as of June 30, 2011. The Taobao Marketplace currently holds more than 370 million registered users and over 800 million product listings showcased on its websites. The Taobao Marketplace receives more than 50 million unique visitors daily and is one of the world’s top 20 most visited websites according to the Alexa and DoubleClick Ad Planner by Google, Inc.

In line with Alibaba’s mission and purpose for the .TAOBAO gTLD, it is first and foremost important for Alibaba to safeguard and protect its key “TAOBAO” brand and trademark at the top level of the DNS’ hierarchy. Such protection does not only extend to the actual registration, delegation and use of the TLD, but also to the domain names that are registered therein, and how these domain names are used.

Considering the fact that the actual award and delegation of the .TAOBAO gTLD to Alibaba is subject to the successful evaluation of our application, we have not yet defined in detail:

  • the types of domain names that will be registered;
  • who will be entitled to select which domain names will be registered
  • who will be entitled to register such domain names;
  • who will be entitled to use such domain names, and;
  • which types of use will be allowed or recommended.

As we believe that the development and implementation of one or more business cases could likely take a couple of months or even years, we have only focused on a number of high-level characteristics of our plans in relation to the operation of the .TAOBAO gTLD, as described above.

By all means, it is in Alibaba’s self-interest to, on the one hand, make the most of this initiative, promote its own business interests together with those of its key affiliates, business partners, and consumers, whilst mitigating risks for the brands and brand reputation of such stakeholders and reducing the (social) costs for others.

In this context, Alibaba will devise policies that encompass and comprise the following features:

At least during the initial months or even years following the delegation of the .TAOBAO gTLD to Alibaba, this extension is likely going to be a so-called “single registrant TLD” as contemplated by ICANN in Article 4.5 of the template Registry Operator Agreement (“Transition of Registry upon Termination of Agreement”). For the avoidance of doubt, a “single registrant TLD” is a TLD where “(i) all domain name registrations in the TLD are registered to, and maintained by, Registry Operator for its own exclusive use, and (ii) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or transfer control or use of any registrations in the TLD to any third party that is not an Affiliate of Registry Operator.”

Therefore, parties who are not Alibaba or – insofar and to the extent Alibaba deems appropriate – an affiliate will not be entitled to register domain names in the .TAOBAO gTLD.[3]

Name Collision Issues

In October 2013 ICANN released their final assessment and mitigation plan for the Name Collision issue that was facing the New gTLD program. On 18 November 2013, ICANN announced the applied-for strings that were eligible for an alternative path towards delegation that would allow applicants to proceed without waiting for further mitigation research and plans to be published. 25 strings, including .taobao, were not eligible for the alternative path, and will have to wait for more plans to be published before continuing towards delegation.[4]