Important Milestone Towards the Next Round of New gTLDs

An important step was taken yesterday towards the opening up of the next round of new gTLD applications, with the unanimous approval by ICANN’s gTLD policy body, the GNSO Council, of the final report and recommendations from the Subsequent Procedures working group (SubPro).  After five long years and thousands of hours of volunteer time debating and addressing the learnings from 2012, SubPro submitted its 400 page report in January, containing affirmations of existing policy, recommendations for new policy and various guidance on how best to implement this, grouped across 41 discrete topics and covering all aspects of the roll-out of new gTLDs.  This includes recommending that:

  • the roll-out should consist of a series of discrete application windows, or rounds;
  • the criteria for the opening of the subsequent window should be made available at the time the previous window opens, so that potential applicants can plan and budget;
  • there will be a system of registry service provider pre-evaluation, so that applicants can select, if they choose, from a set of service providers who have already passed some of the technical testing;
  • applicants will be able to make specific changes to their application in order to overcome objections or resolve contention arising from multiple applicants for the same or similar TLD strings; and
  • importantly for brand owners, formally adopting as policy the status of a Dot Brand TLD, and dispensing with some of the requirements that are applied to, and more appropriate for, open TLDs, including the requirements to have a facility in place to fund the emergency back end registry operator in the event of TLD failure, and to conduct periodic monitoring for security threats such as malware and phishing.

There is still plenty of work to be done to take these recommendations and implement them into workable systems and processes and draft a new version of an Applicant Guidebook but, provided that the ICANN Board adopts the recommendations, this work can now begin. The next step, therefore, is for the report to be considered by the Board, for which there will also be a further public comment period.  We know that various groups, including the governments, will raise concerns about some of the recommendations, particularly around issues like the use of private auctions to resolve contention and the lack of enhanced safeguards against DNS Abuse, and these concerns will still need to be navigated.  Nevertheless this is an important milestone and a testament to the hard work of many members of the community, including in particular our friend and former SVP of Com Laude USA, Jeff Neuman, co-chair of SubPro.

If you are interested in learning more about Dot Brands, validated TLDs or new gTLDs generally please contact us.

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