Yesterday ICANN released (page 19) the list of their elected Evaluation Panelists:
The "awards" go to:
String Similarity: InterConnect Communications (UK)
Seem to be experts in IT regulations, numbering and broadband technology, I hope they also have some cross-cultural and linguistic expertise, as they are to judge some of "our" German gTLD strings...the problem is, there is NO procedure or possibility to complain against their decisions. So if they think that - as an example - .BAYER (Pharma company)is (very probably)visually confusingly similar to .BAYERN (Region) there is no way you can complain against that (other than public comments, which evaluators are to look at but not bound to take into account) ...prepare for auction! Btw, most Germans would easily be able to differ between the two strings, they do so today (I.e. the Stadium of the Football Club in Leverkusen is called BAYER Arena, and mind you has very little wish to be associated with BAYERN Munich)
Anyways, it would be really nice, if Interconnect Comm and/or ICANN would give a few concrete examples (preferably in multiple scripts) on what is "visually" similar (i.e. singular vs. plural IDN (Ü) vs Latin (UE) and what is not...applicants for multiple TLDs risk ending in contention sets against themselves...!
DNS Stability: Interisle Communications
Who are they? Have tried to "google them" without any look, and have not found them on the list of respondents. Can anyone enlighten me?
Ah, maybe they are called: Interisle Consulting Group? ;-)
Chapin and Avri Doria are competent and trustworthy competences. I can tell from the WHOIS record of interisle.net (Registrant:Charles Wade4 Tiffany TrailHopkinton, MA 01748US) that they are based in the US (Their website does not seem to show that ;-) I hope they have the bandwidth to evaluate the registry services thoroughly.
Registry Services: Interisle Communications (US again)
Geographic Names: Economist Intelligence Unit and InterConnect Communications (UK and UK again)
Financial / Tech / Ops
Ernst & Young (UK)
JAS Advisors (US)KPMG (CH)
Community Priority: Economist Intelligence Unit
These guys will be very busy, I can imagine a whole bundle of CPEs, it will be interesting to see how they will interprete the various community priority criteria.
Quality Control: JAS Advisors
So it appears that the panelists are very anglo-saxon....too bad, especially in the string similarity review panel and in the geo name panel, it would have made sense with a bit more diversity...
We were told that the panelist would be handed out manuals on how to evaluate the applications. Sadly, these manuals are not likely to be published..
More Providers To Be Chosen
ICANN is still in the process of electing providers for the EBERO (Emergency Backen End Operator), The Trademark Clearing House (which has the potential to become a mean money machine), The Independent (who is?) Objector, and the URS. I miss an RFP or RFI for the Auction Provider...