Shocking: Booking.com attempts to Hijack Dot Hotels gTLD

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Booking.com Seems the Sole Candidate to become a .hotels Registrar

A twitter friend pointed me to a French site Tendance Hotellerie that found out Booking.com is the sole candidate to distribute the dot.hotels top level domain when ICANN signs off on Booking.com’s application.

If that will be the case, it is clear to me that other hotels or hotel chains will not be able to obtain any .hotels extension anymore, because I simply doubt that when Booking.com B.V. gets the registrant status It will grant any hotel chain a .hotels extension.

This seems not in line with the aims of ICANN with the new TLD’s to offer the users more choice, more competition and to make the internet more transparent.

Here is the application of Booking.com B.V.

Even from the application it is clear that Booking.com wants to control this whole TLD:

Given the fact that the Applicant is a hotel reservation agent, it has a vested interest in giving its visitors and clients a clear and predictable naming scheme in the .hotels gTLD. Since visitors and clients are mainly looking for hotel
reservations on the basis of their geographic destination, the Applicant may
indeed develop plans in order to register domain names that exclusively contain
geographic names (country names, city names, names of regions, etc.).
However, if such domain names will be registered, the Applicant will do so
considering the following confines:
(i) these domain names will be exclusively registered in the name of the
Applicant ⁄ Registry Operator, and not in the name of a third party that is not controlled by the Applicant ⁄ Registry Operator
, unless agreed upon otherwise with the authority competent for giving its consent in accordance with
Specification 5 of the Registry Agreement;
(ii) where consents are required prior to the registration and use of a domain
name referred to and in accordance with Specification 5 of the Registry
Agreement, the Applicant will obtain such consents before actually registering,
delegating and using these domain names…..

It is clear for instance  hilton.hotels will be registered by booking.com B.V. and not be available for Hilton to register….

Objections?

Yes! As an independent hotel owner I object and I will file an objection.

ICANN-(ICANN)-on-Twitter-2012-10-01-17-15-35

By coincidence ICAN’s Twitter account @ICANN mentioned a link to file objections today.

Objections can be filed on several grounds. Here is a Icann Brochure that makes it a bit more clear.

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5 Responses to Shocking: Booking.com attempts to Hijack Dot Hotels gTLD

  1. Thanks for mentionning the source of your info. Indeed, it is possible to file an objection.
    However, several people have already filed an objection and I would have expected that they warned their friends, their network, their peers. None of them did.
    This case is definitely too crucial for anyone nor any hotel chain to handle it on its own. Action must be common, must be BIG and must be coordinated from 5 continents. So how could I qualify the people who knew and didn’t share the information? Irresponsible is probably the best I can find for now.

  2. I just wanted to correct a few misunderstandings on this post.

    1. The booking.com application does state that they might be the sole registrant of all .hotels domains, so, they could prevent hotel brands from securing their name in the .hotels namespace. However, this does not give them the right to register a domain name of someone else’s trademark.

    2. First, although there is only one application for “.hotels”, there are seven applications for “.hotel” – the singular form of the word. I don’t think both forms will be allowed to co-exist. So, the success of the “hotels” application is not assured.

    If ICANN decides that both “.hotel” and “.hotels” CAN co-exist, then hotel brands might have the option to secure a .hotel domain name, depending on the policy of the .hotel operator. Again, this is not assured.

    3. Remember, the .travel domain remains an option for the industry as well.

    best regards,

    Tom Barrett
    EnCirca, Inc

  3. How about using the trademarks of the hotels by Booking.com? Can they just use those names without getting into legal troubles? I understand the use of the name of a chain or hotel in the bookingsengine but not for a separate domain? I will share this with a former colleague. Let’s see what they can do.

    regards,
    Hans Leenhouts

  4. Hi Guilain,
    Where can we find the objections already filed?
    Hi Tom
    1. Agreed, but the preemption possible is already staggering. Bringing into memory the ways the OTAs succeeded in grabbing their share by grabbing the necessary keywords and other ways of drawing traffic to their sites.
    2. I know there are several applicants for the singular .hotel namespace, but am now seriously inclined to suspect (some of) them having close ties with other OTA’s.
    3. I still vividly remember the sloppy way the .travel gTLD was introduced. Who uses a .travel extension? Seriously…

    Guido

  5. Application comments are available on https://gtldcomment.icann.org/comments-feedback/applicationcomment/viewcomments. Select “search by string” and on the empty box, input “hotels” and you’ll get the list.

    Tom, that is very true that hotels with an “s” is different from hotel without. If the ICANN was to allocate both TLDs to different entities, what would think a customer when seeing hilton.hotels or hilton.hotel? He will most probably think he’s on the official brand website and that the reservation is DIRECT. Trademark might block Booking to have the hilton.hotels domain name, however we have no idea of what the conditions will be. Hilton is protected. Most of the independent hotels in Europe are not protected. Hijacking is very possible.

    One of the applicant of the “hotel” TLD gives guarantees that no OTA will have access to it. Several hotel associations supported their application. All other applications of hotel/hotels/hoteis/hoteles TLD are no very clear, and several of them are being filled by OTAs.

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