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Important Changes in the Proposed Final New gTLD Applicant Guidebook

Tony Kirsch

The new guidebook represents an enormous step forward for the new Top-Level Domain program for a number of key reasons. As we have commented previously, the naming convention as the 'Final' guidebook is of significant importance and reinforces the ICANN Board's intention to get to the finish line with the program.

Of equal importance however, is that the number of changes from the previous version of the guidebook is relatively small and focus on a few key issues which shows that the end is indeed near. It's fair to say that there is a lot less red ink (representing the changes) in this version than in any previous guidebook versions!

Key changes worthy of note in today's version of the guidebook include:

Vertical Integration – Registrars are now allowed to own TLDs and sell their own domains as reported in our blog post last week.

Batching of applications – if more than 500 applications are received, ICANN will do an initial batch of 500 and then subsequent batches of 400. Applications identified as being in competition with each other (for example, when more than one application is received for a particular TLD) will be grouped in the same batch, although a clear process as to how batches will be prioritised is still under development.

Delegation – ICANN have estimated that between 200-300 TLDs will be delegated annually and determined that no more than 1000 new gTLDs will be added to the root zone within one year.

Applicant Screening – a full review of the applicant business and related stakeholders such as shareholders, directors and key staff will be undertaken by ICANN. Applicants that fail any of the tests for criminal history, cybersquatting, tax evasion or child abuse (among others) will be automatically disqualified.

Registry Agreement Approval – Formal approval of the agreement will generally not require additional Board review, provided that the evaluation criteria are met, and there are no material changes to the base agreement.

Morality and Public Order Objection Process – due to community concerns and the work of a Working Group, this has now been temporarily renamed the Limited Public Interest Objection process and still provides the ability for concerned parties to object to a TLD based upon principles of international law.

The Power of the ICANN Board – for the first time it has been explicitly stated that the Board reserves the right, under exceptional circumstances, to individually consider an application to determine whether the proposed new TLD is in the best interest of the Internet community.

We'll be sharing our more detailed thoughts on the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook throughout the week so stay tuned for more information.

By Tony Kirsch, Head of Professional Services at Neustar
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Understatement of the year John Berryhill  –  Nov 15, 2010 6:44 AM PDT

"a clear process as to how batches will be prioritised is still under development"

Every now and then, Congress will direct the US Patent Office to create a new category of patent applications which the applicant can petition to make "special". The USPTO has an enormous application backlog, so when a category of invention is deemed important, we get a new "special" category.  For example, one category of special applications is "inventions relating to cancer treatment". 

The idea is that these applications should receive prompt attention.  However, because all of the applications in that category are generally going to be examined by the same units of the USPTO, the practical effect is described as "everybody moves to the front of the line".

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