Battle Heats Up Over Use of ‘.Doctor’ Website Domain Names

March 26, 2015 in News

Domain registry firm Donuts has filed a formal petition of reconsideration asking the Internet Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers — an international group that oversees some of the Internet’s technical functions — to change a rule that limits who is able to register for a website that ends in “.doctor,” The Hill reports.


ICANN is in the process of rolling out hundreds of new domain extensions (Hattem, The Hill, 3/25).

Last year, ICANN placed the .doctor domain in the highly regulated “Category 1″ status (Wright, Bloomberg BNA, 3/16). As a result, only “legitimate medical practitioners” will be able to use the domain name.

Three companies, including Donuts, have applied for control of the .doctor domain extension (The Hill, 3/25).

The .doctor extension is scheduled for auction on April 29, but Donuts’ petition asked that the auction be delayed until at least 30 days after the outcome of its reconsideration request (Bloomberg BNA, 3/16).

Details of Petition

Jon Nevett, co-founder and executive vice president of Donuts, said that “the term ‘doctor’ is pretty broad and has a lot of uses,” adding, “It could be used by a Ph.D, it could be used by a rug doctor, a computer doctor, a lawn doctor, a veterinarian.”

In its petition of reconsideration, Donuts argued that the requirement “violates express, long-standing ICANN policy prohibiting discrimination and promoting competition and free expression,” adding that there are not similar rules for domains such as “.lawyer.”

Nevett said he expects to receive a response from ICANN in the next few weeks.

According to The Hill, an ICANN spokesperson declined to comment on the petition (The Hill, 3/25).

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