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.