ICANN had been looking at reviewing thousands of gLTDs, and one of the most disputed was .cloud – with three top brands, Google, Symantec, and Amazon, applying for it as a closed registry. This would make the bid winner the sole registrar of the domain and would exercise all control over it.
An open letter to ICANN, penned by Cloud Industry Forum founder Andy Burton, says none of these companies should have the right over a domain that could represent an entire industry. “Clearly none had the right to exercise ownership over the phrase, and indeed none could ever dream to achieve it in a comparative activity such as registering a trademark,” Burton said.
The CIF thinks Google’s moves to convert the closed .cloud application to a “restricted” one has done “little to allay industry fears, and is likely to compound competition concerns and give Google an unfair advantage over everyone else in the industry”.
The threat is that, by controlling the .cloud domain, other players will be relegated to third level domains and, as a result, will give Google an unfair ability to promote, categorise and develop cloud services.
“As one of the largest and most powerful cloud services companies in the world, Google would have both the incentive and ability to undermine its rivals’ ability to innovate and promote their own cloud services via this gTLD,” Burton writes. “A situation we believe, that no matter what the positive motive of Google’s application may have been, should not be allowed to arise in the first place”.
“We cannot allow market size and funding to win over common sense and fairness in matters such as the control of a generic term,” Burton said.
The letter is available to read in full here.
Although Google does its best to distance itself from anticompetitive claims, the company has been under the eye of both the US FTC and, now, the European Commission. Critics have alleged Google used its market leading position to redirect search results to its own services, and away from those of rivals.