Two recent ICANN announcements caught our eye because of their relevance to domain investors.
The first was ICANNâs placement of a notice that it was seeking to hire its first ever Registrant Services Director-Consumer Advocate. The Job Description states that the position âinvolves participation in a number of cross-organizational projects in areas such as registrant rights, contract interpretations and compliance, operations, legal policy definitions and implementation with a strong focus on multi-stakeholder collaborationâ and that, among other tasks,Â the selected individual will âbecome the Registrant Community advocate within ICANN and represent their needs to other teams across the organization.â The Director will report to the President of the Global Domains Division, the separate business unit established within ICANN last year. Consistent with CEO Fadi Chehadeâs statement during the London meeting that future staff growth would occur in locations outside ICANNâs Los Angeles headquarters, this position is to be based in Istanbul, Turkey â although applicants must be willing to travel 40% of the time. Curiously, despite the jobâs focus on registrant rights, contractual interpretations, and legal policy, the educational experience sought is âBA or BS degree, MS or MBA preferred. Advanced degree in engineering or systems is highly desirableâ â and not a law degree.
The creation of this position finally puts some meat on the bones of CEO Chehadeâs June 2013 declaration that domain registrants are ICANNâs primary customer. As a trade organization representing the interests of registrants who are professional domain investors and developers we have been critical of ICANNâs failure to âwalk the walkâ on that verbal commitment in the past. ICA now looks forward to working with this new ICANN staffer on issues of importance to registrants, while recognizing that in certain situations involving registrant grievances against ICANN there will be constraints against biting the hand that pays him, or her.
Separately, ICANNâs GNSO is soliciting volunteers for the just-launchedÂ GNSO New gTLDs Subsequent Rounds Discussion Group. This Group will review the first round of new gTLDs and report findings to the GNSO Council âthat may lead to changes or adjustments for subsequent new gTLD application proceduresâ. With Initial Evaluation just having been completed on all applications submitted in the first round of the new gTLD program, ICANN is putting in place the first step in meeting its commitment to review it thoroughly before a second round commences.
From what we have heard, when it does launch down the road the second âroundâ may not be a round at all, in terms of having a set time window in which applications must be submitted. Rather, once any adjustments in the program are made based upon first round experiences the application window may simply stay open indefinitely, with applicants free to submit a bid for any string at any time.
The new gTLD program of course included the new rights protection mechanisms (RPMs) of Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) and the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH), and we expect both to be the subject of discussion and possible suggestions for modification within the new Discussion Group. Thatâs one major reasonÂ why ICA shall be participating. Perhaps onceÂ the Registrant Services Director is hired he or she will participate as well â to help assure that registrant rights receive adequate due process as the new gTLD program evolves.
This article by Philip Corwin of the Internet Commerce Association was sourced with permission from: