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New gTLD Discussion Draft - Top 10

Elisa Cooper

Okay, so spending my Monday morning printing out and reviewing 348 pages of the "New gTLD Discussion Draft” is not exactly what I had mind when I woke up today, but kudos to ICANN for keeping to the timeline that they had released last month.

Since, most of you do not have the time or the patience (and probably have real work to do), I've taken it upon myself to highlight the most important changes in this version. And because you know I can't resist a Top-10 list, here we go:

#10 — ICANN has committed to reviewing the effects of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) on the root after the first application round. Only after it has been determined that the security and stability of the root have not been jeopardized, will a second round be allowed to proceed.

#9 — The new gTLD application period is expected to last 60 days. There had been a lot of speculation about this previously, but we finally have some clear guidance here.

#8 — After applications are posted to the ICANN website for review, the GAC (Governmental Advisory Committee) may issue Early Warning notices concerning applications concurrent to the 60-day comment period. While these notices are not formal objections, they may later be subject to "GAC Advice". On a side note, ICANN is encouraging potential applicants to work directly with relevant parties (including governments) to mitigate concerns.

#7 — Applications which receive an Early Warning from the GAC will receive an 80% refund if they are withdrawn within 21 days of notice.

#6 — "GAC Advice" will represent a consensus position by the GAC that an application should not proceed. There is a strong presumption that the ICANN Board will not approve an application for which "GAC Advice" has been provided.

#5 — Upon termination of the Registry Agreement, if all sub-domains are used exclusively by the Registry Operator, then ICANN may not transition operation of the TLD to a successor without the consent of the Registry Operator.

#4 — The Trademark Clearinghouse will no longer rely on substantive review as a means for inclusion, but will instead require proof of use as a requirement.

#3 — Relative to actual application questions, more information has been provided to applicants explaining the elements of a complete answer, and the components required for a score of 1 versus 2.

#2 — The URS (Uniform Rapid Suspension) has moved to a limited loser pays model whereby complaints that contain 26 or more domains will be subject to a Response Fee which will be refunded to the prevailing party.

#1 — To meet the minimum requirements for Rights Protection Mechanisms, all new gTLD Registries will be required to support both a Trademark Claims service AND a Sunrise process. Previously, only one or the other had been a required.

I have to say that none of the amendments in this version of the Guidebook were particularly surprising. Clearly a very concerted effort was made to address the issues that had been raised by the GAC.

To me, the fact that they released the Guidebook on April 15, as promised, speaks volumes. I believe that ICANN is determined to finalize the program at the June meeting in Singapore. And this means that the application launch could begin towards the end of October.

If you are hoping against hope that the new gTLD program just doesn't happen, I would strongly advise against it. At this point, companies should be finalizing their plans — whether it's to focus solely on defensive measures or to apply for a custom TLD.

By Elisa Cooper, SVP Marketing and Policy at Brandsight, Inc.
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Related topics: ICANN, New TLDs
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Mandatory sunrise and .brand gTLDs Avtal Meren  –  Apr 20, 2011 8:55 PM PST

Elisa,

Thank you for your summary of the changes to the Guidebook.  Now that you have gone through all 348 pages, I wonder if you could answer a question about how the mandatory sunrise period would affect .brand gTLDs.

Specifically, will the owner of a .brand gTLD be required to provide second-level domains to anyone whose trademark is registered in the Trademark Clearinghouse, even if the .brand owner is generally not planning to allow outsiders to register domains?

For instance, if Ford receives .ford, will they be required to have a sunrise period, and give out second-level domains to trademark owners?  If I own a trademark for "Dealers" (the "Dealers" brand of playing cards, say), will I be able to ask Ford to give me dealers.ford?

Thanks,

Avtal

Re: Mandatory sunrise and .brand gTLDs Elisa Cooper  –  Apr 21, 2011 8:15 AM PST

Hi Avtal,

According to the Guidebook, any gTLD “applicant may or may not have a formal relationship with an exclusive registrant or user population. It may or may not employ eligibility or use restrictions.”

The Guidebook also states that, “The Sunrise period allows eligible rightsholders an early opportunity to register names in the TLD.”

I interpret this to mean that in order for a rightsholder to qualify for a Sunrise registration, that the rightsholder must also be eligible for registration as defined by the registry.

It is also probably worth mentioning that the Guidebook also states that, “Registry Code of Conduct” shall not apply to Registry Operator if (i) Registry Operator maintains all registrations in the TLD for its own use and (ii) Registry Operator does not sell, distribute or otherwise make available to any unaffiliated third party any registrations in the TLD.”

Best,
Elisa

Elisa,Thanks for the clear explanation.Regards,Avtal Avtal Meren  –  Apr 21, 2011 9:19 PM PST

Elisa,

Thanks for the clear explanation.

Regards,

Avtal

Technology Rick Rumbarger  –  Apr 22, 2011 1:16 PM PST

Elisa,

Thank you for your summary of the changes to the Guidebook.  We are seeing a fair amount of interest from our DNS customers looking to make the leap into running their own gTLD.  Hopefully we will see the same adoption rate that we are seeing with .co domains, further blurring the line of .com dominance.  The next leap for applicants will of course be selecting strong technology partners, so they do not put their brand at risk.

Rick

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