Friday, 10 December 2010

gTLD program postponed - my guess is: add another 3-4 Months

Just now the Board of ICANN agreed on a resolution to meet with the GAC to address the remaining open issues before they can "asap" launch the new gTLD program.

This meeting is scheduled for February. This leads me to believe that the nTLD program will be delayed with at least another two months. In other words it looks like the Board of ICANN plans to approve the nTLD program at the March meeting in San Francisco. Add to that another two weeks for ICANN staff to update the DAG, and another 2-4 weeks to include public comments and last changes resulting from the next ICANN meeting, there is a fair chance (this time?) that the Final Applicant Guidebook will eventually be published Mid April and the Apllication Window open late August ?

Does anyone have a better guess?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

The "Proposed Final New gTLD Applicant Guidebook" is open for public comments - why is everybody so silent?

On November 12th, ICANN published the "Proposed Final New gTLD Applicant Guidebook" (which you may call DAG5), which is open for public comment until the Dec 10 board meeting at the ICANN Cartegena Meeting.

The most significant change from DAG 4 in my view was the removal of Cross Ownership Limitation. The new DAG 5 is now allowing registrars to be involved in registry operations, both as applicants and as a service providers.

It appears to me though that brand owners would still have to register domains in their own dotBRAND TLD through an ICANN accreditted registrar.

ICANN summons up the changes here

As always it is possible to comment on the new DAG version.

Much to my surprise, here almost two weeks later, I can only count 10 comments to the DAG5:

Why is this?

Are the various stakeholders finally satisfied with the wording of the "Proposed Final new gTLD AGB" (DAG5) or are they still analysing/working on their comments to launch them during the ICANN meeting beginning Sataurday Dec 4?

However frustrated different stakeholder group may be, my instinct tells me, these groups have now reached a stage, where they say; "Ok, evidently, ICANN board is determined to launch the new gTLD application by allowing for applications from May 30th, 2011, so we might as well start preparing for participating in this new business, instead of investing further resources in trying to impact the DAG.

If my instinct is correct we can expect in the hundreds of ".brand" applications when ICANN opens the application window on May 30th.

Yet there is still a good week till the ICANN meeting in Columbia begins, and (sadly I am not going this time) it will be very interesting to follow and participate in what may be the last discussions about the new gTLD programme, before ICANN publishes the final AGB as planned for Mid January, 2011.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

No Cross Owner Ship Restrictions for ICANN Registrars - Free Choice of Registry Service Provider

One of the open issues remaining in ICANN's new gTLD Program (as defined in the various Draft Applicant Guidebooks) has been the question whether ICANN registrars were allowed to apply for their own new gTLD, and whether ICANN registrars were allowed to deliver Registry Services to new gTLD Registries such as a brand owner or a city.

Over the last year a working group under ICANN has struggled and finally failed to reach consensus on formulating a proposed policy on this socalled "Vertical Integration or Cross Ownership" issue.

As a result the ICANN board on November 5th took upon them to decide on this policy issue and has now decided to ask ICANN staff to implement a policy for new gTLDs with NO CROSS OWNERSHIP restrictions.

To brand owners, who consider applying for and operating a new dotBRAND gTLD, this in my view is good news. Brand owners will now be able to choose freely between both current registry backend providers and new registry backend providers including registrars and ccTLD registries. In addition, if I interpret the intention of the ICANN Board correctly, Brand Owners will be allowed to act as a Registry, Registrar, and Registrant in their own dotBRAND TLD. Anything else, would also have made little sense, IMHO.

Please note that we are still to see the final wording in the "Proposed Final Version" of the Applicant Guidebook expected to be published within a few days, and not least, we are to see the final wording of the AGB (Actual Final Version so to speak), which ICANN plans to release mid January 2011.

As always, one should not be surprised, if the multistakeholder organization of ICANN will change position or adjust the policy on the cross ownership issue. My take is, however, that the wish of ICANN board and ICANN Staff to foster free competition and innovation within the gTLD name space, and not least the eager to finally roll out the new gTLD program, is so strong that we should only expect very few additional restrictions in the final AGB, if any at all. (I.e. that registry operators are only allowed to register in their own TLD, until it reaches say 100,000 registrations...)

No doubt ICANN Board, GAC, ICANN Staff can expect a thunder storm of comments from those players in the market who have argued for cross ownership policies that would not allow registry operators to also act as registrars and registrants in their own TLD and - maybe more importantly - would now allow registrars to offer any registry services at all.

We look forward to a no doubt hot debate at the next ICANN Meeting in Cartagena, Columbia at the beginning of December.

See the ICANN Board Resolution here:
http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-05nov10-en.htm

Monday, 1 November 2010

Monday, 27 September 2010

Modified applicant guidebook

A modified applicant guidebook will be published for public review prior to the upcoming ICANN meeting in Cartagena. This is clear after ICANN board met in Norway on 24-25 September.
The resolutions can be found here.

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

ICANN board gives final approval for .中国

A brief update on the new IDN ccTLD (country code top level domain name in local script)

.中国 (".china“ or ".Zhongguo" )

On Friday 25th of June the board of ICANN approved the IDN ccTLD
.中国
(Plus the same for .Taiwan and .Hong Kong)
According to Li GuangHao, who is the Deputy Director, Dept. Of Intnl Business at CNNIC, the. 中国 will be launched in August (maybe even mid July).
The rules are planned as follows:
A) Grandfathering period for all current IDN.cn or CDNs (you need a domain name with Chinese characters in. Latin script .cn will not give you a . 中国). The registrant of these IDN.cn and/or CDNs will automatically be granted the equivalent string under ..
B) There is currently no plans for a TM Sunrise phase or any other Sunrise phases
C) It will be launched based on FCFS
D) Requirements are the same as for .cn
- Local Presence
- Hard copy application form
- Copy (sealed and signed) of Chinese business certificate
- Copy of passport/id of Chinese Citizen of the WHOIS contact person (registrant)
I will keep you posted as soon as we have official requirements/launch data from CNNIC
In case you currently have no IDN.cn, it may be a good idea to look into that. I do not know, if the grandfathering period is only for "old IDNs" registered before a certain date.
If you have a need for a trustee/local presence service, this can be arranged with trusted Chinese Law Firms, feel free to contact me if you need info/provider.

Read the official press release from CNNIC (can be google translated).

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

DAG4 and new timeline for gTLDs - ICANN is expecting 400-500 new gTLDs

Yesterday on June 1st, ICANN published the DAG 4 and added a new time line.

DAG4 supposedly is the final DAG, and the final applicant guidebook, to be ammensed after a comment period following the ICANN meeting late June in Bruxelles, is expected to be published in Q3, 2010.

The launch date - or rather the opening of the application window (45 days) is expected to be announced around October 2010. In other words my guess is that the timeline for the introduction of new gTLDs is as follows:

New Timeline
DAG4 comment period July-September
Applicant Guidebook and launch date: October 2010
ICANN promotion tour/campaign - October-February 2011
Application window: March or April 2011
Launch of new gTLDs - Q1 2012-Q3 2012.

Interestingly ICANN is expecting 400-500 new gTLDs (their budget is based on these assumptions)
What has been added changed in DAG4 (DAG3 was published October 2009)?

DAG4:

IP Protection:Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) (Fast track UdRP procedure; electronic filing, max 5,000 words; costs 300 USD link to WHOIS and copy of infringing part of website, registry locks domain within 24 hours and registrant has 20 days to respond. Decision within 3 days – max 14 days. Remedy: frozen domain name until expiry date.

Sunrise Phases for trademark owners (based on word trademarks registered prior to 26 June 2008) or
Trademark Claim Notices (where registrants are being noticed - with a link to the trademark clearing house – that they are about to infringe on others’ rights
The Trademark Clearinghouse (TM Clearinghouse) for word trademarks registered before 26 June 2008
The Post-Delegation Dispute Resolution Proposal (PDDRP)

Geographical Names
Capitals who want to apply for .city (i.e. .london) are now to get support by state governments in terms of letter of support/endorsement or letter of support
(previously a letter of non-objection from city
authorities was sufficiant)

In case a city is both a city, and a region (i.e. .berlin, .basel) the applicant must prove support/non objection from both state, regional, and city governments.

Contry names (IDN or Roman Characters) are NOT allowed as new gTLDs

Public Comment Periods related to applications
Icann will implement Public comment periods (45 days) for potential comments or criticisms, and objections against applications for new gTLDs.
These comments will be included in the evaluation of potential conflicts (contention sets, community priority evalutaions etc.).

Restrictions on Registrar Cross-Ownership
Icann will not accept applications from ICANN accredited registrars or any of their affiliates under their control (currently defined by a 2 % ownership limit or otherwise controlled).

To a brand owner this may be of relevance, as a brand owner applying for a .brand gTLD will have to pursue the following set up:

Registry: Brand Company - supported by a registry operator service provider who is not an ICANN accredited registrar, to whom the brand owner is used to outsource the management of their domain name portfolio.
Registrar: ICANN accredited registrars - in principle equal access for all ICANN registrars.

Registrant: The brand company (or possible also daughter companies, affiliates, customers, employees etc.

Thus in case a brand owner is looking for a “one-stop” service provider (registrar, registry backend provider, DNS hosting etc.) this will not possible with the current ICANN regulations on maximum 2 % Cross Ownership.

A brand owner would now how to engage with both a registry backend provider and an ICANN accredited registrar in order to operate and register gTLDs in its own TLD.

Within the Virtual Integration Working Group under GNSO at ICANN an attempt is in progress to formulate an alternative policy that may or may not allow ICANN accredited registrars to also offer registry services (everything from zero to 100 % cross ownership is being suggested).

My guess is, however, that a compromise on 15 % cross ownership limits may eventually be implemented in the final guide book.

This will, no doubt, be a very hot topic at the next ICANN Meeting in Bruxelles later this month.


Payment Terms:
Applicants are now to pay 5,000 USD in deposit, when signing up for the application process. (To avoid “frivolous access to the application system.”) Overall application costs (ex. potential extended review evaluation fees and potential objection handling fees and potential auction costs…) are still USD 185,000).

Evaluation of Applicants (2.1. Background Check in DAG4)
ICANN will perform background checks on the individuals involved in any new gTLD. The criteria for investigation carried out by a third party will cover areas such as: Money Laundring, Terrorism, Serious and organized crime, arms trafficking and war crimes as well as intellectual property violations.

I believe that an applicant will not pass the background check if he or she has been involved in any of these activities (! It is stated that applicants are checked for these areas…) it is however certain that one will not qualify if; one has been found liable for cybersquatting or felony related to financial activities.

This should give brand owners a very high degree of certainty that cybersquatters having lost UdRP cases (I guess that is the criteria) can apply for a gTLD.

Two Character IDN gTLDs are now allowed!
For ASCII (or “LHD”: Latin letter, hyphen,digit) characters still a minimum of three characters are required in the new gTLD string. “I.e. “.car, ” whereas IDN strings (as long as they do not cause confusion or are too similar or identical to Latin Characters) are allowed in only two characters. This will enable i.e. Chinese regions to apply for their geographical names (typically only two characters) as a an IDN gTLD. Furthermore it allows for a number of two character generic terms in non Latin scripts.

Enhanced technical and security requirements:
ICANN has a number of areas related to technical set up, performance of systems, servers and security measures. In general a very strict and detailed description of the technical set up is required, which will make it difficult for new entries in the registry backend provider business or at least create large administrative burdens for single applicants or for registry providers supporting few applicants…

Budget period and proof of funds reduced from five to three years
Letter of Credit (LOC) reduced from five ( or end of registry agreement) to three years.
although it will be difficult to assess or estimate the revenue in such a changing marketplace, where the number of competitors is completely unknown, by lowering the requirements for the LOC from five to three years funding, ICANN has made it easier to prove financial solidity.
This part of the application is kept confidential. It would, however, be interesting reading to see how different applicants assess their expected number of registrations in their new gTLD.

So to wrap it all up:

Despite the fact that many parties have an interest in amending or changing the wording in DAG 4, and some parties have an interest in postponing the new gTLD program altogether, it is my impression that the directors and the board of ICANN will stick to their time plan this time. Otherwise, they will seriously lose prestige…

NEW GTLDS ARE COMING – and ICANN is preparing for 400-500 new gTLDs.

I look forward to the ICANN Bruxelles Meeting June 20-25.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Completed Fast Track String Evaluation

Some of the countries/territories which have applied for an IDN ccTLD string has passed the String Evaluation.
The IDN ccTLD Fast Track Process was approved by the ICANN Board at its annual meeting in Seoul, South Korea on 30 October 2009.

Dotkoeln

Köln has joined the group of cities that wants to create their own Top Level Domain space and strengthen Kölns brand. Read about Dotkoeln here

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

.canon

To my knowledge the first brand that has announced publicly that they will apply - announcement here

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Status after ICANN meeting in Nairobi

No EOI - Expression of Interest.
No registry/registrar integration so far.

Yes to URS - uniformed rapid suspension system - recommended by IRT.
Yes to Post Delegation Dispute Resolution Procedures - also recommended by IRT.

DAG4 expected before ICANN meeting in Bruxelles.
3 character (IDNs) issues can be solved case by case - i.e. .music is two characters in Chinese, Japanese etc.
Variant issues will be further investigated.

Timeline: Taken public comment periode into account after DAG4 we expect first application round in Q1/Q2 2011 and presumably first delegations in Q2 2012

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Expression of Interest

ICANN boards goal is to make a decision at the Nairobi meeting 7-12 March. If decided it it will presumeably be a binding for applicants to seek Expression of Interest

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Madrid

Madrid has join the long list of cities applying for their own Top Level Domain - read more here

Friday, 22 January 2010

IDN ccTLDs

Four IDN ccTLDs has completed the string evaluation - 3 arabic and one in cyrillic. Read more here

Wednesday, 6 January 2010