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