ICANN – Draft Applicant Guidebook – Overview

Last week, ICANN released a draft of the Applicant Guidebook for new top-level domains. The draft answers many of the questions our customers have asked.

Most rights holders will be immediately interested in the modules covering the application process and fees (module 1), evaluation procedures (module 2) and the dispute resolution period (module 3)*. Those modules provide immediate answers to many important questions about eligibility, direct costs, how applications will be evaluated, and, very important to rights holders, how to object to other applications and under what circumstances they can do so.

One critical question that the draft answers is what are the fees associated with application for a new top level domain? At $185 000 the fees were described as “hefty by CircleID though many of our customers have expressed relief that the costs are high. Such a high bar could discourage speculation hopefully.

“Legal rights holders should also take some comfort in the fact that the objection process allows rights holders to object to the misuses of their trademarks and that the party that does not prevail in any dispute will bear the cost of the proceedings. This should further discourage blatant disregard for intellectual property rights by TLD applicants.

The big question for rights holders is what will happen to second-level brand abuse within these new top level domains. Many rights holders are very concerned about how they will protect their rights within these new top level domains and see this as one of their largest concerns a topic MarkMonitor will cover in a subsequent blog entry.

The draft guidebook leaves some important unanswered questions and brings to light many issues that should be concerns to brand holders. Overall the draft document is a step in the right direction in terms of informing the public about the new top level domains and how they’ll be parceled-out.

*The 97 page Application Guidebook is organized into the following “modules **:

Module 1: Introduction to the Application Process

Provides an overview of the application process documentation requirements

and fees

Module 2: Evaluation Procedures

Describes the various reviews that occur during the evaluation process and

criteria for approval of applications

Module 3: Dispute Resolution Procedures

Contains the grounds for formal objection by third parties concerning gTLD

applications submitted and the dispute resolution procedure triggered by an

objection

Module 4: String Contention Procedures

Describes mechanisms for resolving contention when there is more than one

qualified applicant for identical or similar gTLD strings

Module 5: Transition to Delegation

Describes the final steps required of an applicant including execution of a

registry agreement and completion of pre-delegation tests

Module 6: Terms and Conditions

Contains the terms and conditions applicable to all entities submitting an

application

Glossary:

Contains definitions for terms used in the Applicant Guidebook

**Modules and descriptions are quoted directly from the Draft