ICANN Commits To Second Round of New gTLD Applications

Following complaints from some brand owners and their representatives such as FairWinds Partners, and calls from the GNSO, ICANN’s board has resolved to open a second round of generic Top Level Domain applications. It is likely that the second round of applications will not be called until this first round has been largely completed as the board says any further rounds of gTLD applications “will not have any further impact on ICANN resources.”But the board resolution of 7 February 2012 reaffirms ICANN’s commitment to opening a second round of applications in the new gTLD programme “as expeditiously as possible.”ICANN will publish a document describing the work plan required prior to initiating a second application window for the new gTLD programme.”The important thing here is that the Board has erased any doubt that there will be a second application window for new generic Top-Level Domains,” said Steve Crocker, ICANN Board Chair. “It’s not yet possible to set a definitive date for the next application period, but that will be determined after the current window closes.”ICANN notes it is not possible yet to state a specific date for the second round because of the work ICANN has committed to related to the first round. First, the applications from the first round must be processed, and the amount of applications to be received will not be known until the first-round application window ends. In addition, ICANN previously committed to addressing the recommendations of the Governmental Advisory Committee requirements for assessment of trademark protections and root zone operation as a result of the first round.In furtherance of the resolution, after the publication of the description of the work plan, ICANN will continue working with the community to refine that work plan.The full text of the resolution is available on ICANN’s website at: www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-07feb12-en.htmIn addition, ICANN is seeking public comment on certain trademark protections in the New gTLD Program. Some stakeholders recently indicated that there are concerns about the perceived need for “defensive” applications at the top level, and encouraged ICANN to ensure that the program was launched in a manner that protects intellectual property rights. The public comment will help ICANN clarify the scope and benefits of the available protections as well as understand and respond to specific concerns with them.And finally, in their announcement ICANN continues to push forward with its programme to provide financial and other forms of assistance to qualifying applicants. Having designed an Applicant Support Program and an Applicant Assistance Handbook, ICANN is now seeking independent panel members to help make financial award decisions. Global diversity and broad sets of experiences will be required and ICANN encourages those interested to seek additional information.