ICANN show and tell, June 13, 2012

June 13, 2012, five months after the opening of the TLD Application System (TAS), the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is revealing the list of applied-for new gTLDs, along with the names of the applicants. The day is rather cleverly named, Reveal Day.

On January 12, 2012 ICANN began accepting applications for new generic TLDs, the process being completed on May 30, after suffering from delays due to technical problems. With over 1900 applications, there are several big name companies with multiple applications, one of the most notable being Google. Aiming to promote their brand name and business, the company has, allegedly, made 50 applications that include .GOOGLE, .DOC, and .LOL.

Reveal Day, June 13, ICANN will publicly post all new TLD character strings and the applicants behind them.

Application Comment period begins June 13 and lasts for 60 days. Applicants and members of the public are invited to submit comments on any of the applications. For this process, and to remain unbiased, ICANN has hired an Independent Objector to review the comments. ICANN states, “Professor Alain Pellet has agreed to serve as the Independent Objector for the New Generic Top-level domain program. The Independent Objector will act solely in the interests of the public who use the global Internet. He is a highly regarded professor and practitioner of law and has represented governments as Counsel and Advocate in the International Court of Justice in many significant and well-known cases.”

Objection period
kicks off on June 13 and runs for seven months, during which objections may be filed by anyone who feels they have justification, based on legal grounds, public interest, or community standing.

Batching process is running from June 8 to June 28, 2012. ICANN’s decision “to open the domain name space to competition and choice” invited an unlimited number of applications; realizing that evaluating such a quantity could be considerable, a decision was made to implement a batching process.

July 11, ICANN will announce the results of the batching process.

Initial Evaluation begins July 12, and concentrates on String and Applicant reviews. String reviews judged whether the applied for TLD is too similar to another, meets technical requirements, and whether it is a geographical name. Applicant reviews investigate whether the appropriate technical, operational and financial criteria has been met by the applicant to successfully run a registry,

Additional Programme Phases run through December/January 2013. Applications passing the initial valuation without objection will, eventually, go live as a TLD, but some may be delayed. Multiple applicants for a single TLD could, if deemed equally worthy, go to auction; a process that could be very expensive for the winning bidder; there is also a dispute process in place to handle any legal issues such as trademark infringement.

Trademark Clearinghouse

June 1, 2012, ICANN announced that it will be working with Deloitte and IBM on implementation of the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), which will be offering full support for protection of trademark rights in the new gTLD domains.

The TMCH will be a globally available database, providing services for the authentication and validation of brands. Deloitte will provide control and data validation, whilst IBM will give technical database administration services. ICANN said, “Both providers are highly qualified, with significant experience, technical capacity, and proven ability to manage and support processes.” ICANN wanted service providers with, “a demonstrated understanding of the issues concerning global intellectual property rights and the Internet, global capacity to authenticate and validate trademark information, and experience designing, building, and operating secure transaction processing systems with 24/7/365 availability.”

Applicants gaining approval to run a registry will be required to implement a rights protection model, supported by the TMCH; during a TLD’s start-up period when a domain name is registered that matches Clearinghouse records, participating rights holders will be alerted. Whilst ICANN are still finalising fees for access to the Clearinghouse database, the preliminary cost model – June 1, 2012, estimates, “a set-up fee of $7,000 – $10,000 will be due per TLD registry.”

There is a bundled, low fee for authentication and validation services for Rightsholders, expected to be under $150 per submission for a ‘straightforward submission’; additional services due to errors in the original submission, or any appeals will increase the cost.

If all goes to plan, the first of the new gTLDs should start to appear online at the beginning of 2013… if all goes to plan.