Even though ICANN is moving full steam ahead with the New gTLD Program, many of the program’s specifics are still being finalized. Many important questions related to the Trademark Clearinghouse and the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) still remain unanswered at this point. However, ICANN has recently provided additional details around Application Reveal and Batching and selected the Independent Objector.
Application Reveal and Initial Evaluation
ICANN has announced that they intend to publish the full list of applicants on June 13th, at which point comments and formal objections can be filed. Initial Evaluation of the applications is expected to begin on July 12th. Given that ICANN is expecting new gTLD applications to number more than 2,000 (although ICANN announced yesterday that more than 500 application were still incomplete), it is not yet known how long it will take to process all of the applications, although many expect to see new registries online in the first half of 2013.
ICANN has developed a system for the batching of applications which is referred to as “Digital Archery.” According to ICANN, “each applicant will be notified to register into an online system to set a future time target. The batching process is targeted to begin on June 8th and end on June 28th. The results of the batching process should be made available on July 11th. The ability of applicants to ‘hit’ that target at the selected time will be used to determine which applications are placed into the first, or subsequent batches.” Digital Archery has already faced considerable criticism by many in the ICANN community. Regardless, it appears that ICANN is moving forward with this approach.
ICANN announced that Professor Alain Pellet has agreed to serve as the Independent Objector for the New gTLD Program. Alain Pellet is a professor and practitioner of law and has represented governments as Counsel and Advocate in the International Court of Justice. He is widely published and holds several significant honors. According to ICANN, “Acting solely in the best interests of global Internet users, the Independent Objector may lodge Limited Public Interest and Community objections in cases where no other objection is made to an application that the Independent Objector deems to be objectionable.”
The details of the Trademark Clearinghouse have not yet been finalized and the provider(s) have not yet been announced. As a reminder, the purpose of the Trademark Clearinghouse is two-fold: First, it is designed to notify and streamline Sunrise periods for rights owners. Second, it is designed to provide notification to rights owners of exact-match registrations that occur within the first 60 days of general registration at all new gTLD registries.
Uniform Rapid Suspension
As part of the New gTLD Program, ICANN had intended to introduce the Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS), a new Rights Protection Mechanism meant to supplement the Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP). Unlike the UDRP, the URS was meant to provide a faster, less expensive alternative with filing costs in the range of $300. Unfortunately, ICANN has not been able to identify a provider willing to supply these services at this cost. As a result, ICANN has set aside $175,000 to conduct “two URS summit sessions to reconfigure the URS to arrive at a lower cost model.” Exactly what is meant by “reconfigure” is unknown, but according to ICANN, “the goal is [to] have a URS program in place and providers contracted and onboard by June 2013.”