New gTLD Discussion Draft Top-10

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#7 – Applications which receive an Early Warning from the GAC will receive an 80% refund if they are withdrawn within 21 days of notice.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