18(b) How do you expect that your proposed gTLD will benefit registrants, Internet users, and others?

Prototypical answer:

gTLDFull Legal NameDetail
.lawyerTop Level Domain Holdings LimitedView

18b Benefits
18 (b)(i) Goal: Specialty, service level or reputation

The specialty of the .LAWYER TLD will be that it will be open only to those lawyers who, at the time of registration and renewal, can prove that they are a licensed lawyer in their designated country or other legal jurisdiction. No .LAWYER domain names will resolve in the DNS until they have been validated against the registrant eligibility and name eligibility rules.

The service level of the .LAWYER TLD will include publishing on its website all relevant policies and procedures, along with valid details of a primary contact (name, email and phone) for a person who can assist with any enquiries. In particular, details will be published of ways of escalating a response in an emergency, including providing an acknowledgement. In any assignment of the registry, we will include a warranty by an assignee that the .LAWYER will operate under the same or similar conditions, so that the level of service is maintained.

The reputation which the .LAWYER TLD will develop will be that every registration in the TLD will be by an authenticated and duly licensed lawyer, creating a unique global database of licensed lawyers. The reputation will be that .LAWYER registrants will be more identifiable, more traceable and more accountable than those legal service providers using non-authenticated TLDs. This will provide a higher level of trust and safety for Internet users of this TLD. Further, the .LAWYER registry will have a reputation for compliance with all relevant Internet technical standards, and with all ICANN-mandated policies.

18(b)(ii) Competition, differentiation, or innovation

The market for domain name registrations has grown at a tremendous pace. From 2000 to 2010 total domain name registrations increased from 40 million to 200 million. 2011 experienced approximately 9% growth, significantly higher than the previous year’s 6% growth, ending third quarter 2011 with approximately 220 million domain names registered. Approximately 60% of these are in gTLDs, the remaining 40% in ccTLDs. More specifically, gTLD growth was approximately 8% in 2011, while ccTLD growth exceeded 11%.

Existing TLDs, such as .COM and .NET, do not provide adequate solutions for many registrants. Domain names that relate to the registrants’ legal, business, interests, or associations are often already registered, priced exorbitantly high, or are in TLDs that are unsuitable. Other options, such as ccTLDs, do not provide adequate alternatives as a registrant may not have an appropriate geographic relationship, and they may not meet the applicable criteria for gTLDs such as .MUSEUM or .AERO. Therefore, the best opportunity to pursue a relevant and useful domain name registration may be through a registration in a new gTLD that is distinctive of their business.

At present, there is no specific .LAWYER domain name, or useful top-level alternative domain name, that exists for lawyer registrants that wish to identify themselves as licensed lawyers for those people, organizations or businesses that are seeking legitimate lawyers in order to communicate or do business with them. Those desirous of a domain name that indicates some level of association with the business world could seek a second level domain name such as “LAWYER.COM,” “LAWYER.US” or “LAWYER.NET,” but such domains (or similar names) are not readily available under the limited number of existing gTLDs, and--more importantly--only provide a secondary (at best) or weak (at worst) relationship between the domain name and the business world, which we believe is the primary goal of the registrant of such names.

Expanding the name space by the addition of this new gTLD will be an innovation that meets the needs of licensed lawyers seeking a distinctive, authoritatively descriptive Internet presence. It will also aid those seeking licensed lawyers to find and rely on them, in a way that builds consumer confidence and trust.

We believe that the .LAWYER top-level domain will add significantly to competition with and differentiation from legacy TLDs in the top-level domain space. Lawyer registrants are presently extremely limited in their choice of domain names that allow them to efficiently and effectively associate themselves with the legal world. The availability of useful, effective, straight-forward domain names in existing top-level domains, such as .COM, .NET and .ORG, is now very low because of depletion. Such names may be for sale at prices that are out of reach for most. .LAWYER will allow registrants to obtain useful, effective, straight-forward domain names rather than be forced to purchase, for example, their fifth, sixth or even later choice .COM or .NET name--which may well barely relate to the registrant’s purpose--or use of a domain name that may be confusingly similar with numerous other .COM or .NET domain names.

.LAWYER will also create competition among registrants who want the same domain name in .LAWYER. Many lawyers have the same or very similar names - there is likely to be demand for a domain name that clearly, effectively and efficiently associates them with the legal world for their domain name purposes as well as for those registrants who want to reach Internet users who identify with it.

.LAWYER will also increase pricing competition in the top-level domain name space by assuring that .LAWYER domain names are priced at levels that are appropriate to the vast majority of potential lawyer registrants to whom .LAWYER is targeted.

.LAWYER will promote competition among the Registrars, as they structure offerings to the many potential registrants in this gTLD.

Internet consumers benefit from the availability and use of .LAWYER names, that make it easier for them to know that the owner of the second-level domain name is a duly licensed lawyer at law in a given legal jurisdiction.

.LAWYER will significantly increase differentiation in the top-level domain space. Existing leading generic top-level domain names, such as .COM, .NET and .ORG no longer require and no longer represent any real differentiation in association, purpose or content. Newer top-level domains, such as .XXX, .AERO and .MUSEUM, do represent differentiation, but are either inappropriate or unavailable to most prospective registrants at whom .LAWYER is targeted. .LAWYER will further increase differentiation by allowing registrants to be associated with each other, and consumers to know that the registrant is a certified lawyer at law.

18(b)(iii) User Experience

.LAWYER will provide a top-level domain name that allows Internet users to easily recognize that the registrant is a duly licensed lawyer in a given jurisdiction which will help to diminish consumer confusion and deceptive trade practices, thereby building trust in the TLD specifically and in Internet commerce generally.

Applicants and registrants will have a user experience of the .LAWYER Registry that is characterized by:
(i) Clearly delineated rules, that are
(ii) Published well in advance; with
(iii) Adequate safeguards for the rights of applicants and registrants; including
(iv) Expeditious and cost effective challenge procedures in the event of disputes.

18(b)(iv) Intended Registration Policies

Because of the history of its use and designation of special legal status, the English word “LAWYER” has significant consumer trust implications. We are grateful to adopt the applicable recommendations of the Security Standards Working Group,(“SSWG”) which developed a set of registry security standards, in conjunction with the development of ICANN’s Applicant Guidebook. Although developed for finance-related gTLD strings, many of the safeguards proposed in that context are adopted and will be operated by the .LAWYER Registry. More particularly, the .LAWYER LLC registry will adopt and implement the following Standards set out in Appendix B to the letter sent by BITS to ICANN referenced in Question 3018 in the Guidebook, namely Standards 1,2,3,4,5,8,9,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21,22,24,and 27.

As a result of the application of these standards, there will be pre-verification of all lawyer registrants, who will be required to demonstrate that they hold a valid license to practice law in their designated country or other legal jurisdiction. Electronic interfaces with the relevant legal bar associations or other trusted repositories to speed the registration process will be developed. Proxy registrations will not be permitted.

We have crafted a draft framework for registration of .LAWYER domains that supports the goals and benefits set forth above. Our draft registration framework is based on advice from ICANN, WIPO, applicable laws, and a variety of other expert sources. Specifically, the .LAWYER draft framework includes these interrelated sets of agreements setting forth our policies and regulations, all of which registrants must agree to be bound by:

- The Registrant Agreement, which registrars contracted with the .LAWYER Registry must present to registrants. This is a collateral agreement to the Registryar- Registrary Agreement (detailed below), and will bind registrants to .LAWYER’s Acceptable Use Policy (as detailed below), .LAWYER’s Privacy & Whois Policy (detailed below), ICANN-mandated rights protection mechanisms (including the Universal Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”), and the Complaint Resolution Service. It sets out the names that may be registered, and defines the eligibility conditions for their registration;

- The Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”), which details the proper use of domain names that end in .LAWYER, which is incorporated by reference in the Registrant Agreement that registrants must agree to. It explicitly defines for Registrars and registrants what constitutes abusive conduct including, but not limited to, malicious, negligent, and reckless behavior. The defined permissible frequency and the course of action in cases of repeated violations are provided;

- The Privacy and Whois Policy, which describes how a registrant’s personal data is to be used, which is also incorporated by reference in the Registrant Agreement;

- The Registry-Registrary Agreement, which is the contract between .LAWYER and its ICANN-accredited registrars, which sets forth, inter alia, the duties and obligations of the registrar with respect to .LAWYER registrants and the .LAWYER registry. This requires the registrars to publish registration requirements on their websites, along with valid details of a primary contact (name, email and phone) for a person who can assist with any enquiries. In particular, details will be published of ways of escalating a response in an emergency, including providing an acknowledgement. The Agreement also provides that Registrar access to all Registry systems must be mutually authenticated via transport layer security and secured with multi-factor authentication, NIST Level 3 or better. Under this Agreement, Registry and registrars must mutually notify each other of any investigation by ICANN or Law Enforcement agencies into aspects of their other’s compliance- registrars with significant compliance infractions will lose their accreditation. The circumstance where no notice of such an investigation will be given is also included; and

- The Naming Policy, which sets out .LAWYER’s policies governing prohibited, blocked or reserved domain names, defines the names eligible for registration, and defines the conditions for amending those policies and definitions.

These agreements and policies are designed to ensure transparent and non-discriminatory policies for the registration of .LAWYER names; fair and competitive pricing; protection of personal data and privacy; adherence by registrars and registrants to the AUP; protection of trademarks, the names of natural and legal persons and other property rights; prevention of the registration of illegal terms; and the prevention of violations of the law. Moreover, our policies promote competition among registrars, combat abuse of the DNS, address cybercrime, protect intellectual property rights, and align the .LAWYER top-level domain with applicable regulatory and legislative environments and Internet registry best practices.

These policies will effectively support the key mission, purposes and goals of the .LAWYER top-level domain, while at the same time protecting third-party rights and preventing abuse.

18(b)(v) Protecting the privacy or confidential information of registrants or users

We will comply with all applicable ICANN rules on protecting registrant privacy and confidential information, including Whois policies, and all applicable laws, rules and regulations. Registrant privacy and use of confidential information are set forth in our Privacy & Whois Policy. Information concerning updates and changes to the Privacy & Whois Policy will be promptly and prominently displayed on the .LAWYER web site.

.LAWYER’s back-end registry services provider will also be required to employ industry-standard procedures to prevent the unauthorized or illegal access of registrant privacy or confidential information.

With respect to users, .LAWYER’s Registration Agreement will require that all registrants comply with any and all applicable laws, rules or regulations concerning user privacy and confidential information for applicable jurisdictions; failure to do so may result in suspension or loss of their .LAWYER name and may, in addition, result in legal actions by appropriate authorities.

18(b)(vi) Outreach and Communication
Outreach and communication will be important to achieving our projected benefits of increased competition and differentiation in domain names, and as an instantly and easily recognized identifier of status as a lawfully licensed lawyer in a particular jurisdiction. Through outreach and communication, we will be able to educate the Internet community and general public that .LAWYER is a restricted TLD where registrants are authenticated and are therefore legitimate lawyers who have demonstrated they hold a valid license to practice law from a particular bar association.
.LAWYER will maintain an active website, providing comprehensive information about
the company, its policies and personnel, .LAWYER registry policies and practices,
and registrar information, with an FAQ for intending applicants, registrants,
law-enforcement offices, governments and others seeking information about .LAWYER.

In relation to each phase of registration discussed above, .LAWYER will provide updated and timely releases on the website, and occasionally if the situation requires it, through additional media.

As a result, intending applicants, registrants, users and others will be able to appreciate the conditions under which .LAWYER registrations are to be offered and used, and how the various possible disputes are to be handled.

These mechanisms will enhance the user experience, and assist compliance with
.LAWYER policies.

We believe this will be of substantial benefit to the Internet user community in generally--and licensed lawyers specifically--as it will allow them to more easily and more readily understand the purpose or motives of the registrant’s website or email, allowing for better, more efficient and more effective use of their time online.

For the reasons set forth above, a .LAWYER domain will be in the public interest; it will serve as a catalyst to promoting higher quality legal services by licensed lawyers; provide a truly unique and easily accessible global database of licensed lawyers across numerous jurisdictions; and it will benefit the legal world.

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