TUESDAY, 31 MAY 2011
"Unstoppable": new ICANN gTLD draft guide released
Via the MARQUES Cyberspace Team comes news that ICANN published the gTLD Applicant Guidebook yesterday. This follows the appearance of no fewer than six draft Applicant Guidebooks, spanning a period of more than three years -- not to mention the consideration of literally thousands of comments from both supporters and opponents of the process. Anyway, this document is the foundation for a programme of change that will irrevocably alter the domain name system.
Together with a detailed explanation of the application process, the Applicant Guidebook features the 50 questions that all applicants must answer, as well as the registry operator’s contract.
If the ICANN Board approves the Applicant Guidebook at its Special Meeting in Singapore on 20 June 2011, the application process could open four months later, in October 2011. New registries could then begin to go live from as early as October 2012.
Publication of this Guidebook -- which took place on the 30 May target date set by the ICANN Board three months ago -- does not mean that there will be no more changes. In its introduction, the 355 page document is referred to as “a draft” and further changes are anticipated:
“As approved by the ICANN Board of Directors, this Guidebook forms the basis of the New gTLD Program. ICANN reserves the right to make reasonable updates and changes to the Applicant Guidebook at any time, including as the possible result of new technical standards, reference documents, or policies that might be adopted during the course of the application process”.
What is most remarkable about this publication is how few changes there are of any significance. We learn that there is going to be an Applicant Service Centre to assist applicants, but apart from that there are few changes of note other than an acknowledgement that the Government Advisory Committee (GAC) may provide
“advice on any topic and is not limited to the grounds for objection enumerated in the public objection and dispute resolution process.”
It appears that the ICANN staff have pressed ahead with publication to meet its self-imposed schedule while discussions with the GAC which could yet lead to more dramatic changes continue in the background. There will be telephone conferences followed by an in-person meeting between the GAC and the Board in Singapore on 19 June 2011. The Guidebook does finally acknowledge the supremacy of the GAC over the ICANN process, promising that “a mutually agreed and understandable formulation for the communication of actionable GAC consensus advice regarding proposed new gTLD strings” will be created. This is the start of Government censorship of objectionable strings.
In regard to the protection of intellectual property rights, there is little new. Question 29 of the Application Questions still states that
“Applicants must describe how their registry will comply with policies and practices that minimize abusive registrations and other activities that affect the legal rights of others, such as the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (UDRP), Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) system, and Trademark Claims and Sunrise services at startup”.
Introducing the Applicant Guidebook, ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom predicts “a safer on-line environment”. He says, “This landmark programme has the potential to create more choice for internet users, empower innovation, stimulate economic activity and generate new business opportunities around the world”. This is a point of view that thousands of rights owners might disagree with but the time for discussion or comment is over. The new gTLD process is unstoppable.
For more information, contact ICANN here or email Nick Wood (
Vice-chair of the MARQUES Cyberspace Team) here.
Nick, who is also Managing Director of Com Laude, is the author of this note.
Posted by: Jeremy Phillips @ 14.56
Tags: ICANN, gTLD,