ICANN Goes to San Francisco in March 2011 Plus Directions for Next Applicant Guidebook

ICANN will be holding its first meeting in 2011 in the gorgeous city of the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco was chosen at a board meeting held on 25 September in Trondheim, Norway, among six other board resolutions including a decision on “substantive evaluation”, a term coined to placate the vociferous trademark holders and ensure them protection of their trademarks while a globally-protected marks list that the reasons the board considered problematic in 2009 still existed, however work would continue to be done to look at this issue.The board also directed that the fourth version of the Draft Applicant Guidebook “is intended to be posted for public comment before the ICANN meeting in Cartagena in December 2010.”Among other resolutions were that a new gTLD Deployment Budget should be adopted. The resolution says the budget “is to be released in order to enable the launch of the program on a timely basis upon Board approval of the Applicant Guidebook. The Application Processing budget should be released upon the approval of the final Applicant Guidebook.”The board meeting made a resolution with a number of directions on the Applicant Guidebook for new gTLDs. These included:

  • Geographic Names: Translations of geographic names should not be protected, however an appeal process is to be developed so communities can object to their name being made into a new gTLD while “the definition of Continent or UN Regions in the Guidebook should be expanded to include UNESCO’s regional classification list which comprises: Africa, Arab States, Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.” Any governments objecting to an application for a name as a new gTLD “should be required to cover costs of the objection process just like any other objector” with the objection process to “be run on a cost-recovery and loser-pays basis.”
  • Root Zone Scaling: Staff are directed to publish their analysis of the impact of IPv6, DNSSEC and IDN deployment on the root zone so far. ICANN believes that based on the discussions to date, the limit of new gTLD applications “is expected to be in the range of 1,000 new delegations per year, with this number to be defined precisely in the publication.”
  • Trademark Protection: The board resolution states that on “substantive evaluation,” “the Applicant Guidebook will provide a clear description of ‘substantive evaluation’ at registration, and retain the requirement for at least substantive review of marks to warrant protection under sunrise services and utilization of the URS, both of which provide a specific benefit to trademark holders. Specifically, evaluation, whether at registration or by a validation service provider, is required on absolute grounds AND use of the mark.

    “Substantive evaluation upon trademark registration has essentially three requirements: (i) evaluation on absolute grounds – to ensure that the applied for mark can in fact serve as a trademark; (ii) evaluation on relative grounds – to determine if previously filed marks preclude the registration; and (iii) evaluation of use – to ensure that the applied for mark is in current use.

    “Substantive review by Trademark Clearinghouse validation service provider shall require: (i) evaluation on absolute grounds; and (ii) evaluation of use.”

    The board also looked at “URS timing” and “in response to public comment, change[d] the time to respond to a complaint from 20 days to 14 days, with one opportunity for an extension of seven days if there is a good faith basis for such an extension.

    “The Board notes that the suggestion for a globally-protected marks list (GPML) was not adopted by the Board (in 2009), including for the following reasons: it is difficult to develop objective global standards for determining which marks would be included on such a GPML, such a list arguably would create new rights not based in law for those trademark holders, and it would create only marginal benefits because it would apply only to a small number of names and only for identical matches of those names.”

    The Board decided “that additional policy development through the GNSO could lead to further mechanisms for enhanced protection for trademarks.”

    Mitigating Malicious Conduct: work done by ICANN staff on mitigating malicious conduct has been sufficient to not stop the introduction of new gTLDs.

There were a number of other issues considered for new gTLDs as well as the confirmation of the appointment of Akram Atallah as Chief Operating Officer.To read the adopted board resolutions in full, see:

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