June Update to ICANN Progress
The Board of TLDH announces that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) has now released the fourth version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook for generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”). This is in line with the decision reached by ICANN’s Board of Directors at its Nairobi meeting in March where it resolved to focus on the full introduction of gTLDs later this year rather than implement an intermediate step by adoption of the expressions of interest/pre-registrations proposal.
As reported by ICANN staff during the Nairobi meeting, the draft guidebook is expected to be the last draft before the final guidebook which is expected to be published in October / November 2010, according to ICANN’s project plan. The new draft guidebook includes an expanded role for public comments on gTLD applications, as well as incorporating various measures to protect intellectual property as proposed by ICANN participants.
The new draft guidebook keeps in place the strict separations of cross-ownership and control between registries and registrars, placing significant barriers in front of registrars who wish to start new top-level domains. If this restriction remains in the final guidebook, the Board of TLDH believes that a number of potential competitors will find it difficult or impossible to enter the market. TLDH is unaffected by this policy and the Board of TLDH therefore expects that TLDH will benefit from this continuing separation between registrars and registries
ICANN has also released other supporting documents in relation to the proposed gTLD application process, including a budget for the new generic top-level domain review process. The budget document is based on ICANN’s assumptions that there will be 500 gTLD applications, of which 5 per cent. are assumed to fail the initial evaluation and a further 5 per cent. are assumed to request voluntary partial refunds. Accordingly, ICANN’s budget assumes that 90 per cent. of all applications will proceed to either successful delegation, or in the case of conflicting applications, to an auction or other tie-breaking resolution.
The other few and mostly small changes in the new draft guidebook suggest that there is near-consensus among ICANN and industry participants and governments and that the application guidebook is near completion.
TLDH remains well-positioned to move forward with its plans for new top-level domains. The next meeting of ICANN will be held in Brussels from June 20 – 25. TLDH and its operating subsidiary, Minds + Machines LLC, will be participating in the ICANN meeting and will provide a further update following that meeting.
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