Mexico City's ICANN meeting represented an important shift in direction for brand rights holder issues. All the work that the IP Community — including ICANN's IP Constituency, our customers, concerned companies, organizations and individuals who commented on the draft applicant guidebook as well as MarkMonitor — paid dividends.
The argument has been successfully shifted from the expense and pain suffered by brand rights holders to the damage caused to consumers from brand abuse and the negative effect this abuse has on security and confidence in the Internet. As a result, the board and staff of ICANN identified overarching issues that affect the introduction of new gTLDs. The cornerstone issue is brand abuse in the domain name system.
The ICANN board put "their money where their mouth is" by agreeing to fund travel for a panel of experts to create a fair and scalable set of rights protection mechanisms to be integrated into the new gTLD program. The proposal for these mechanisms is slated to be reviewed by the board and staff before and during the Sydney meeting in June.
As a result, there is an assumption that a schedule change for the introduction of new gTLDs will occur. Why? There will be at least two more versions of the Applicant Guidebook and supporting materials which drives the program's launch to "the end of this year or early next" at the very earliest according to ICANN staff statements at the Mexico meeting. With the comment period open on the Applicant Guidebook and supporting materials until April 13, 2009, we encourage our customers to comment further.
Another important topic of discussion at the Mexico meeting addressed the speedy adoption and launch of top-level internationalized domain names (IDNs, .non-latin-characters) both for ccTLDs (country-code top-level domains) and the existing gTLDs (generic top-level domains). As part of the "fast-track" process, it seems all but assured that top-level ccTLD IDNs will be approved and launched next year. The top-level gTLD IDNs, like international versions of .com and .net, will be launched as part of the new gTLD program currently in development. Verisign and other registry operators have come forth with proposals that seem to be very fair to existing registrants including brandholders.
There were many other issues discussed at the meeting. To get more information, listen to a replay of the March 11, 2009 webinar.
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Minds + Machines