18(a) Describe the mission/purpose of your proposed gTLD
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The mission and purpose of the new restricted .patch gTLD is to benefit internet users by ensuring increased trust and confidence through the elimination of user confusion and assurance of brand authenticity.
The new .patch gTLD will operate as a restricted registry, in which AOL Inc. and its Affiliates (as defined in the response to Question 28), including its wholly owned subsidiary, Patch Media Corporation (Patch), (collectively hereafter “AOL”) can create and control domain spaces that promote its brand identity and authenticity. In this regard, the .patch gTLD will be used by AOL, as an authoritative internet space to provide information, services and resources to consumers in a way that promotes trust, convenience and utility. Second and third level domains can then be utilized for marketing purposes, with internet users assured of brand authenticity.
AOL is a leading global web services company with a network of premium and niche content sites and an extensive offering of world class tools and platforms. AOL, a pioneer of the internet industry, provides online and local content, innovative products and services for consumers, publishers and advertisers. With one of the industry’s largest advertising networks, AOL’s content sites and products attract more than 250 million visitors around the world. Headquartered in New York, AOL is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and operates in 15 countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Israel. AOL acquired Patch in 2009. Patch is a community-specific news and information platform dedicated to providing 24⁄7 comprehensive and trusted local coverage for individual towns and communities in the United States that are under-served by media but would benefit from access to local news and information about government, schools and business. Patch combines the newspaper, business directory, event calendar, volunteer opportunities, announcements and conversation of a locality in one platform. Patch currently operates over 850 community websites across 22 states, such as Scarsdale.Patch in Scarsdale, New York and Calabasas.Patch in Calabasas, California. Patch has more than 1,400 employees (including over 1,000 journalists) across various field offices in towns, communities and remote locations in the US. Patch’s aim is to offer the simplest, most effective and fastest way to inform people and drive transactions in a local community. In this regard, consumer trust and continuous innovation are paramount considerations in all of Patch’s activities.
Since the inception of the current domain name system, business activities conducted on the internet are constantly changing and evolving with increased complexity. The volume of commercial transactions over the internet is constantly growing and bringing benefits of simplicity and lowered transaction costs to businesses and consumers. The .patch gTLD will facilitate greater trust and assurance from internet users connecting with AOL and Patch online, further reducing susceptibility to sophisticated criminal activities over the internet (Including data breach, hacking and phishing activities), while still allowing convenient and efficient interaction.
AOL’s mission and purpose for the proposed new gTLD share ICANN’s goal of promoting public interest. AOL is committed to contributing toward achieving such initiatives in line with ICANN’s Affirmation of Commitments, which includes:
- Consumer trust: the .patch gTLD registry will be operated in a centralized manner with a restrictive registration policy. Registration of domain names will only be available to AOL and Affiliates, at this stage, which will provide added consumer trust that .patch domain names are trustworthy. As .patch domain names are subject to registration standards, policies and procedures under AOL’s control, this eliminates the possibility of malicious conduct within the .patch domain space;
- Competition: the proposed new gTLD is not intended to instigate competition and consumer choice at the level of registration of domain names among prospective registrants. Instead it is anticipated to contribute to ICANN’s initiatives to promote public interest through its operation focused on promoting consumer trust. Increased trust in the .patch gTLD will likely drive existing and new top level domain (TLD) registry operators to make improvements in mechanisms to improve consumer trust of their TLDs; and
- Consumer choice: the proposed new gTLD will enable user-driven improvements and innovations assisting AOL’s marketing efforts through its ability to create new second and third level domain names on demand. These names will provide the consumers with more choices for interacting with AOL. As AOL has effective control over the registration and use of domain names under the .patch domain space, this will likely contribute toward general service innovations on the internet.
Given the restricted nature of the .patch gTLD, the projected number of registration is likely to be limited in the first few years. However, the number of domain name registrations is likely to increase as AOL develops and implements new services and marketing campaigns for the .patch gTLD.
As .patch expands and evolves, AOL may use second level domains in connection with products, services and brands of affiliates and partners associated with Patch. In this endeavour, AOL will continue to comply with all operational, technical and policy requirements, as well as maintain consumer trust and the stability of the internet. AOL will keep ICANN reasonably informed of any material developments relating to .patch, including compliance with the continued operations instrument obligations as set out in Specification 8 of the Registry Agreement.
As the new .patch gTLD expands and evolves, AOL intends to create relevant domain names for use including product, services and geographic names in the second or third level domains. AOL may use geographic names to provide localized content in the current US communities in which Patch operates and in other communities as the product expands. In accordance with registration policy and the proposed measures for protection of geographic names as outlined in response to Question 22, any use of geographic names would be intended to:
- Connect internet users with the relevant information applicable to the territory; and
- Comply with required rules and regulations in the relevant territory.
At this stage, AOL does not intend to utilize Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs) at the second level. However, as the use of the .patch gTLD evolves, that may change and AOL may utilize IDNs within the .patch domain space to allow internet users to engage with .patch in their native language, creating a more positive user experience and encouraging diversity.
AOL is a well-recognized global brand and its Patch brand is well-established in the US. The “Patch” trademark is registered in US and UK in Advertising and business (Class 35), Telecommunications (Class 38) and Education and entertainment (Class 41).
AOL has 14 existing domain names with an exact match to the applied-for .patch gTLD and the “Patch” trademark including patch.org, patch.com and patch.co.uk. AOL was also successful in securing sunrise application for patch.co and patch.xxx based on existing trademark registrations.
AOL believes that the .patch gTLD is unlikely to cause confusion with either a generic term or any existing TLDs. Patch trademarks have a significant reputation in the US for its provision of local news and information supplementing AOL’s vision to address the needs of local communities and to connect these communities through the internet.
Similar gTLD applications: (1)
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