From ICANNWiki
Revision as of 16:59, 27 April 2015 by Jonah (talk | contribs)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Status: Proposed
Registry: Big Room Inc.
Registry Backend: Afilias
Type: Community gTLD
Category: Industry
Community: Environmental community
Priority #: 156 - Donuts (Little Birch, LLC)
424 - Big Room Inc.
1475 - Top Level Domain Holdings
1798 - planet.ECO LLC
Registrations: 6,476
Parked Domains: 2,458
Parked Domain %: 37.96 %
Important Dates
Delegation: 28 August 2016
General Availability: 25 April 2017

More Information: 1}}

.eco is a proposed gTLD in ICANN's new gTLD program. The TLD is aimed at drawing attention to ecological/environmental causes and for organizations, their membership, businesses, products and other entities that want to associate themselves with ecology/the environment.

Current Applicants

  1. Big Room Inc. - Community-designated Application. This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  2. Donuts (Little Birch, LLC), .eco is one of 307 TLDs submitted by the company. This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.
  3. planet.ECO, LLC - A US-based Small Disadvantaged Business, (SBA-SDB).ECO gTLD applicant, and the exclusive owner of the only US-based .ECO® trademark. [1]
  4. Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd., one of 68 applications submitted by the company on its own behalf. This applicant submitted a Public Interest Commitment, which can be downloaded here.

TLDH & $15mm Auction Funding

On February 26 2013, Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd. announced that it had entered into a funding agreement worth $15 million to be used in the case of auction for a specific unnamed TLD. The investor will not receive ownership of the TLD but a share of future revenues. TLDH did not name the TLD that the funds are directed for, and it is in 11 head to head contentions and 12 featuring more than one contender.[2]

Community Result

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. On 18 November 2014 the ICANN Board issued a final determination upholding the result. On October 24, 2014, approximately 2 weeks after passing community priority evaluation, the status was changed to "on-hold" due to a pending accountability mechanism for applicant Big Room, Inc.

On February 20, 2015 Jacob Malthouse, a former ICANN Regional Liason (Responsible for ICANN engagements with the Caribbean and Canada) and co-founder of Big Room Inc., filed a Reconsideration Request against ICANN’s staff members, on the behalf of Big Room Inc. Malthouse 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." In the request Malthouse further states “ICANN should not permit powerful private interests such as Complainants to manipulate ICANN’s processes and procedures to the detriment of communities like the environmental community and entities like Big Room that work on their behalf”. “In sum, Big Room is suffering considerable harm as a result of its .ECO gTLD application being placed in “on hold” status for an indeterminate amount of time, which is a direct result of ICANN staff inaction with respect to its failure to terminate the ongoing, inappropriate CEP with Complainants.” Big Room’s request for reconsideration has since been withdrawn, having no determination made by the ICANN Board of Governance Committee (BCG) on the scheduled review date of March 19, 2015 or anytime thereafter.[3]


An official Legal Rights Objection was filed by the applicant planet.ECO, LLC, against fellow applicant Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd..[4]

A Legal Rights Objection, as defined by the ICANN approved mediator, WIPO, is when, "third parties may file a formal objection to an application on several grounds, including, for trademark owners and Intergovernmental Organizations (IGOs) [..] When such an objection is filed, an independent panel (comprised of one or three experts) will determine whether the applicant’s potential use of the applied-for gTLD would be likely to infringe [..] the objector’s existing trademark, or IGO name or acronym."[5]

Application Details

Big Room, Inc.

One public applicant, Big Room Inc., announced a partnership with Afilias for their back-end and technical needs, and has applied for .eco as a Community gTLD for the environmental community. They have been working with a Council of 12 environmental groups on a Policy Charter for .ECO since 2008. The Council is currently chaired by the World Wildlife Federation (WWF) International and Akatu Institute (Brazil). Other members include Greenpeace, Green Cross International, and Green Belt Movement International. In addition, over fifty other environmental groups, including 350.org, Ocean Conservancy, Amazon Watch and others support the effort, making it one of the largest environmental coalitions ever assembled. The Executive Directors of the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Global Compact also included letters supporting a community-designated .eco domain and welcoming a multi-stakeholder approach to administering it on behalf of the environmental community.

The goal is to demonstrate the requisite community support and define a purpose and policies for .ECO for the greater good.[6]

An excerpt from its Community Priority Application: "In 2009, Big Room, itself a Certified B Corporation obliged to consider environmental, social and financial interests, launched an international multi-year stakeholder consultation process with the Community on the potential for .ECO to exist as a Community TLD. The process included 7 in-person consultations on 5 continents. Draft policies were published for 3 public comment periods of at least 30 days each...Since establishment, this international multi-stakeholder community council, made up of leading environmental organizations including WWF International, Greenpeace International, Green Cross International and others, has worked to define the mission, purpose and policies for a .ECO Community TLD that reflects the Community’s interests. The council’s work included 2 in-person meetings (Brussels ⁄ Washington, DC) and more than 20 conference calls between members. In September 2010, the council unanimously adopted a charter for the .ECO Community TLD - the .ECO Policy Consensus. The purpose and principles outlined in the .ECO Policy Consensus define what .ECO will mean as an active expression of the goals, values and interests of the Community. The Consensus has been reviewed and affirmed by the Big Room board of directors."

Eligibility for registration will be based on responses to questions about the environmental performance, commitments and actions of registrants, within the context of the purpose, type and location of the registrant. Responses will be compiled and posted into a public ".ECO-Profile". The .ECO profiles will be aggregated into a common online platform called the ".ECO System". This process is described in detail in Big Room's application and was designed in collaboration with and approved by the global environmental community. The process is designed to encourage action in support of environmental goals, foster environmental transparency, and allow for broad participation in registering .ECO domains.[7]

Early Contention

.eco was identified as a contentious TLD early on, with the main parties being Big Room Inc., and Dot Eco LLC. Dot Eco LLC was aligned with former Vice-President of the USA, Al Gore, and the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Sierra Club and Surfrider Foundation. Big Room Inc. was, at that time, largely associated with Mikhail Gorbachev, the Russian ex-president, Green Cross International and WWF International. In August 2009, Dot Eco LLC released a 'green paper' critiquing Big Room Inc.'s approach. Big Room did not respond to the critique other than that it was 'unfortunate'. [8]

On September 28, 2011, Al Gore's organization, the Climate Reality project dropped its support to the Dot Eco LLC bid to give way to the application of Big Room Inc., which is supported by Michael Gorbachev's Green Cross International. A spokesman from Gore's camp explained that Climate Reality as a non-profit organization has limited resources and they decided to focus their campaign on global climate issues. [9] Despite losing Gore's support, Minds + Machines announced its intentions to apply for a .eco TLD whether they would do that under their own name or through a client or separate company was initially unclear.[10]

Top Level Domain Holdings Ltd., the parent company of Minds + Machines which held 25% stake on Dot Eco LLC, confirmed that the company will apply for the .eco gTLD. Peter Dengate Thrush, Executive Chairman of Top Level Domain Holdings said,"...We believe the Dot Eco LLC consortium is exceptionally well placed to compete in every respect of its .eco application and run that gTLD in a meaningful manner. We are therefore delighted to continue give it our full infrastructural and financial support." [11] However, they did not apply through the Dot Eco LLC venture, but instead applied on their own behalf.[12] Antony Van Couvering previously stated that applying for a community gTLD is too risky. He believes that the .eco TLD will not pass ICANN's Community Priority Evaluation, which means the company's application for .eco TLD will not be under community gTLD category.[13]

planet.ECO, LLC, a company based in Connecticut and trademark holder of .eco and a possible applicant for the .eco string filed an infringement case against Big Room Inc. and Dot Eco LLC on March 2, 2012. The complainant asked the court to order Big Room and Dot Eco LLC to stop submitting further documentation and withdraw their application for the .eco string with ICANN. Dot Eco LLC responded to the complaint with an argument that the trademark was obtained illegally by Planet.eco and it should be cancelled by the court. Dot Eco also argued that the complainant is is trying to prevent competition. On the other hand, Big Room filed a motion to dismiss because of lack of jurisdiction. [14] [15] [16]

Early Criticism

There has been early speculation by Matthew Rimmer, an academic from the Australian National University that the creation of a .eco TLD, while potentially helping some ecological causes, could have the effect of "greenwashing" non-eco-friendly companies and efforts. Greenwashing is defined as companies making deceptive or misleading claims that their services and products are environmentally friendly.[17] That academic has stated that it is essential that ICANN award the dot eco bid with strong enviromental credentials and support to deter green washing. [3]

European Commission Communiqué

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.

The Commission specifically notes 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.[18][19]

Iranian IGO Complaints

An mulitnational Iranian IGO, the Economic Cooperative Organization, sent a letter of complaint to ICANN in February 2013 given that they use the 'eco' acronym for their work. In its letter it states that it “expresses its disapproval and non-endorsement to all the applications for .ECO gTLD and requests the ICANN and the new gTLD application evaluators to not approve these applications.”[20]