Preparing for March Madness

If you are a new gTLD applicant, or if you follow ICANN, or if you just like being in a constant state of confusion, then the recent barrage of ICANN activity has probably been enough to make your head spin. Let’s take a look at what we have hurtling towards us, like an out-of-control asteroid, in the next month:

March 5 –  Public Interest Commitment (PICs) Due

If you are a new gTLD applicant, then you have been asked to indicate which parts of you application you will incorporate into the registry agreement as binding commitments, or to identify additional commitments that are not part of your application but which you intend to incorporate as a binding commitment into the registry agreement. To muddy the waters, ICANN has clearly stated  that you are not required to submit a Public Interest Specification, if you do not wish to incorporate a binding commitment into the registry agreement. But in a recent letter from the NTIA, ALL applicants are encouraged to participate.

March 13 – New gTLD Formal Objection Period Closes

Of course we don’t have important information from the GAC, or even know whether the applications have passed Initial Evaluation, but let’s not let that stop us from being forced to file Formal Objections.

March 14 – Reply Period on Policy v. Implementation Closes

Undoubtedly, it is a little concerning that ICANN cannot delineate between what is Policy” and what is “Implementation” – but at least they are asking for feedback from the Community to help drive discussions scheduled to occur at the ICANN meeting in Beijing. 

March 20 – Reply Period on Revised New gTLD Registry Agreement Including Additional Public Interest Commitments (PIC) Specification Closes

As the PIC Specifications are to have been submitted well-ahead of this date not sure what purpose these comments will serve. That said the proposed new gTLD registry contract has already received harsh criticism from a number of Community members during the initial comment period. It isn’t clear how ICANN will move forward in the face of such clear opposition.

March 26 – Trademark Clearinghouse Begins Accepting Submissions

Assuming that the Trademark Clearinghouse is accepting submissions by March 26 ICANN will have delivered on its promise that it would be launched in Q1 2013 – barely. Will it work as expected? That remains to be seen as some implementation details are still being ironed-out.

Is That All?

And if all of this isn’t enough to track don’t forget to be on the lookout for: guidance from the GAC which has now been delayed according to a recent announcement updates from the Expert Working Group on gTLD Directory Services and the Accountability and Transparency Review Team published list of new gTLD contention sets and who knows what else. Oh and if you’re a new gTLD Applicant don’t forget to answer those Clarifying Questions.”