Application Comment Details

Intellectual Property Department
Registry Services Evaluation Panel
Anti-competitive application
10 August 2012 at 16:00:43 UTC

Yves Rocher is a French Group which operates in the field of manufacturing, distribution and marketing of cosmetic products such as makeup, face and body care and hair care in over 80 countries.

By publishing this public comment, our company wishes to draw the attention of the Panel on L’Oréal’s <.hair> gTLD application, which is, in its current drafting, contrary to fair competition.

It is well known that the term “hair” is a generic word which is broadly used in relation with cosmetic products and services and is therefore essential to all entities operating in the cosmetics industry.

Consequently, and according to competition law, we think that the appropriation of such a generic term by one economic actor which intends to limit registrant eligibility for second-level registrations would be anti-competitive and might lead the consumers to think that L’Oréal is the only legitimate company in the hair care business.

In our opinion, all economic actors operating in the hair care field should be allowed to use the <.hair> gTLD. Unfortunately, according to its application file, it appears that L’Oréal does not intend to open the <.hair> gTLD to its competitors.

First of all, we noted that L’Oréal’s application is not for a community-based TLD, which shows that the applicant didn’t intend to act in accordance with the interests of the cosmetics community to which the string is targeted.

Moreover, L’Oréal states further in its application file that in the case that it would obtain the management of the <.hair> gTLD, generic second-level domain names such as “organic”, “color” or “styling” “would initially be reserved⁄allocated to L’Oréal”. Then, “L’Oréal’s existing business units and select licensees and partners would be allowed to register domain names in the .HAIR gTLD. At this time L’Oréal has not determined the identity of these select partners; however, any third party would be required to have a prior commercial or membership agreement with L’Oréal”.

It clearly appears from this application that L’Oréal intends to evict all other actors operating in the hair care business from the <.hair> gTLD (although they have a legitimate interest in holding a second-level domain name in this TLD) to reserve the string to itself and its partners.

It’s only after an approximately 5 year period that L’Oréal will consider to “evaluate expanding the operations (…) to permit registration by other registrants outside of licensees and strategic partners”. Even in that case, L’Oréal has not yet defined the additional requirements that it will most likely ask to third parties for the registration of second-level domains and which might be discriminant or anti-competitive.

Knowing that “promote competition” is part of ICANN’s mission and in order to protect the legitimate interests of all economic actors on the hair care market (including Yves Rocher), we request the Panel not to accept L’Oréal’s <.hair> string application as currently drafted and to require a commitment from L’Oréal to widely open the gTLD to all operators from the beginning as well as to ensure transparent and objective attribution of second-level domain names, as it has been the case for all existing TLD until today.

Therefore, each company will have the opportunity to register domain names to offer consumers a real and wide choice of products, services and informations related to hair care, in accordance with the Internet goal.