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:
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)?
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)
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.
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.