SIIA has been tracking the details of how new generic top level domains (gTLDs) will operate under ICANN’s new program to expand the number of gTLDs, with an eye toward intellectual property rights protection mechanisms, Whois database implementation, and other considerations. There have been many new developments since ICANN announced the 1,930 applications for new top level domains. Here’s the latest:
Changes to the gTLD Evaluation Process
ICANN’s original plan to “batch” applications into groups of 500 for prioritizing evaluation is dead. All 1930 applications will be part of a single, initial evaluation for technical and financial capability, with all results announced at the end of that process. In lieu of batching, ICANN apparently will use some “metering” process for handling the applications, but at this time we are not clear on what such a metering process would entail.
Comments on new gTLD applications extended
The deadline for submitting comments on the new gTLDs to the ICANN evaluation panels was postponed by ICANN until September 26th. SIIA will be filing comments on many of the applied-for strings at that time.
ICANN Names New CEO
New ICANN CEO, Fadi Chehade, will take office in October (until then, current COO Akram Attalah will be CEO).
Cost of Take Down Process Examined
ICANN announced that it would convene a group to seek possible alternatives to the Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS), in light of the providers’ (WIPO, ICC and ICDR) statements that they cannot do it for $300 per complaint as promised in the Guidebook. The URS is intended to be a cheap, quick take down process for brand owners to file a claim against a domain and have it taken down (much like WIPO’s existing UDRP). In response, several gTLD applicants stated that they would implement their own URS if ICANN failed to provide one by the time they were ready to launch. Others applicants suggested that ICANN should fund any difference in cost out of the $350 million in gTLD application fees it recently collected.
Timing of new gTLDs
Due to several delays and complications, the new gTLD evaluation and comment/objection process will extend well into 2013, and likely 2014 for some contested applications. As a result, new gTLDs will likely not go “live” until at least mid to late 2013. (Some reasons for the delay include: the GAC has informed the ICANN Board that it will not be ready to issue “Consensus Advice” on any applications until April 2013 – thus presumably no applications will be formally approved before then. Also, as mentioned above, ICANN’s announcement of anticipated cost overruns of the URS trademark enforcement tool, as well as the Trademark Clearinghouse, prompted some members of the ICANN community, notably the registries and registrars, to call for alternatives or, in the case of the Trademark Clearinghouse, ability to participate in technical development. New gTLDs cannot launch until these issues are resolved.).
ICANN Awarded IANA Contract
On July 2, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced that it has awarded the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) Functions Contract to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). This is not a new role for ICANN, which manages the current IANA Functions Contract that is set to expire on September 30, 2012. The contract will run from October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2015, and has two 2-year option periods, for a total contract period of seven years.
Keith Kupferschmid is General Counsel and SVP, Intellectual Property Policy & Enforcement at SIIA.