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Top Ten New gTLD Gotchas

Elisa Cooper

With the launch of new generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs) expected to occur early next year, many are closely examining the opportunities and risks associated with ICANN's Program.

Although still in draft format and subject to change, keep these gotchas in mind as you think through your strategy.

A 70% Refund Sounds Great – If you decide not to move forward with your new gTLD application after its initial posting, you are eligible to receive a 70% refund. But because the application fee is $185,000, pulling an application from the process will still result in a cost of $50,000.

You'll Need to Move Quickly to Object to Applications that Pass the Initial Evaluation – Objections to new gTLD applications can be made as soon as they are posted to the ICANN site for a period of approximately five months. However, you will only have two weeks to file objections once the Initial Evaluation results are made available.

Obtaining a New gTLD Could Take 19 Months – If you fail the Initial Evaluation, if your application is disputed, and if there is string contention, even the Guidebook says it could take up to 19 months before your new gTLD is delegated.

Trademark Clearinghouse Only Simplifies Trademark Sunrises – In the past, Registries have relied upon Trademark Sunrises to help recoup their internal start-up costs. With the Trademark Clearinghouse, Registries will no longer be able to charge exorbitant Trademark validation fees. This does not mean, however that other Sunrise periods won't also be instated. Be prepared for the submission of business registration requirements, local presence requirements, and proof of industry trade association membership, along with additional fees for validation.

The Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) May Be More Work than It's Worth – When the Implementation Recommendation Team originally devised the URS, it was supposed to be a quick, easy and inexpensive method for dealing with clearly infringing domains. As it stands now though, it isn't any of those things. Domains that are successfully suspended as a result of the URS procedure are only suspended for the remainder of their registration term, or for an additional year at current market registration rates. After suspension ends, domains become available for registration and are likely to be registered again resulting in a never-ending cycle of watching and suspending.

Registry Services Should Not Be Taken Lightly – Registries are responsible for running their TLDs in a stable and secure manner, complying with ICANN's consensus and temporary policies, implementing start-up and post-launch rights protection mechanisms, providing protection for country and territory names, depositing data into escrow, delivering monthly reports to ICANN, hosting a Whois services, maintaining relationships with ICANN-accredited Registrars, maintaining an abuse point of contact, cooperating with contractual compliance audits, making TLD zone files available, and enabling DNSSEC.

Your Relationship with ICANN Could Be More Solid Than Many Marriages – That's right — when you apply for a new gTLD, be prepared for a 10-year commitment.

You'll Need to Prepare for the Worst – To obtain a new gTLD, not only will you need to define its mission and purpose, develop financial plans, and describe technical and operational capabilities, but you will also be required to maintain a continued operations instrument sufficient to fund basic operations for a period of three years which would continue in place for five years after the delegation of the registry AND you must also have a continuity plan in place which includes the designation of a transition provider.

New Registrations Won't Likely Be Available Until Late 2011 / Early 2012 – Even if applications are accepted early next year, even in the best case scenario, it will still be some time before we actually see new gTLDs in the root.

The ICANN Board Still Needs to Approve All Applications – Even after the numerous reviews by the String Similarity Panel, the DNS Stability Panel, the Geographical Names Panel, the Technical Evaluation Panel, the Financial Evaluation Panel and the Registry Service Technical Evaluation Panel, at the end of the day — entry into any Registry agreement by ICANN must first be approved by the ICANN Board of Directors.

By Elisa Cooper, SVP Marketing and Policy at Brandsight, Inc.
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Share your comments

Well Done! Jothan Frakes  –  Jul 15, 2010 4:26 PM PDT

Erica, this is a very good article.

Jothan - you mean Elisa? :) Michele Neylon  –  Jul 16, 2010 1:46 PM PDT

Jothan - you mean Elisa? :)

Oy Vey, it passed the spell checker.. Jothan Frakes  –  Jul 16, 2010 2:05 PM PDT

Yes, Elisa, good article.  Do'h.  A thousand pardons!

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