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ICANN’s Economic Reports: Finding the Missing Pieces to the Puzzle

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The ICANN community has been especially concerned about the economic reports used by ICANN to justify its decisions as to whether, and how, to implement applications for new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs). Among the greatest sources of concern has been the failure of ICANN staff to issue a complete public response to the ICANN Board's October 2006 demand that ICANN Staff commission economic studies about gTLDs.

To date, no proper "study" — based upon real facts and not the mere opinion of "experts" retained by ICANN — has been released. Instead, ICANN has published three "economic reports" that respond only in part to the Board's demand for an economic study of the "full market."

ICANN needs to answer a number of questions about these reports and the inconsistencies in the process that produced them. (A timeline of events relevant to these economic studies is included as an appendix to this article.) Answers to these questions would provide important insight into the development of the new gTLD process. The ICANN community deserves the benefit of a full and detailed study of the economic implications of ICANN's plan for new gTLDs prior to its implementation. The issue of how, and even whether, to launch a new gTLD application process is too important to proceed without ICANN giving the community the opportunity to review and consider the implications of the economic reports behind ICANN's decisions.

By Michael D. Palage, Intellectual Property Attorney and IT Consultant

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