ICANN continues with the evaluation of the new gTLDs and is posting regular updates. You can check out all the latest news here but first we start with a reminder – the Application Comment Period is coming to a close, it officially ends on September 26. Comments should be posted as soon as possible to ensure they will be considered by the correct evaluation panel.
New gTLDs – Application Comment Period
The Application Comment Period is to allow the public to comment on any of the new gTLD applications. This is not the same as a filed objection, which have to be submitted directly to the appropriate Dispute Resolution Service Provider (DRSP), not with ICANN. Anyone with a valid concern, such as trademark infringement, may file a formal objection. There are four objection grounds: string confusion, legal rights, limited public interest and community. The Objection Period opened on June 13 and remains open for approximately seven months.
To date, ICANN has received 6687 comments and no objections.
There have been seven applications withdrawn, four of which have been named and approved by ICANN. Three of the applications are from Charleston Road Registry Inc. (Google) and the fact that they are geographical designations would hint at the reason for the block; .AND, .ARE, .EST. The fourth was a brand name, .KSB, submitted by the KSB Group.
In the original programme there was no process for alterations to applications, due to demand ICANN has since implemented a programme and subsequently, received 57 requests. ICANN has not published details of the change requests but they do list the seven criteria for determining a valid request: a reasonable explanation, an error correction, third parties affected materially, changes similar to others that have already received approval that could affect third parties, fairness to applicants, whether the change could affect the evaluation score or require re-evaluation, and if the timing interferes with the evaluation process. Please see here for more detailed information regarding the decision criteria and change request process. ICANN plan to make the application changes public for 30 days prior to approval.
The five Evaluation panels were created so applications would be distributed to the relevant panel and managed more efficiently. Applications are grouped if they have similar details, such as coming from one applicant or having the same back-end provider. The panels cover financial, technical, geographic names, string similarity and DNS stability; the most complex evaluations belonging to financial and technical and the panels are aiming to process 300 applications per month, with a target completion date of June 2013.
ICANN received 101 comments on how the evaluation process should proceed with regard batching. The suggestions, submitted by both individuals and organisations, offer various solutions for the prioritizing of applications. Ideas such as priority for IDNs (internationalised domain names), geographic names or applications for community names were some of the suggestions. Uncontested new gTLDs, applications from developing countries, brands and genuine generic names were also recommended for prioritisation. With 101 comments, ICANN has yet to reach a decision and don’t appear to be in a hurry, presumably they would like to avoid the fiasco that was digital archery so are taking time to find the perfect solution. ICANN’s roadmap suggests December 2012/January 2013 for implementation of the final solution; applicants who expected ICANN to have completed Initial Evaluation by Q1, 2012, will be severely concerned.
ICANN plans to post regular updates concerning the new gTLDs and have created a website for anyone interested in following the programme. We will also keep you informed of all that occurs.