To help clients understand and prepare for the potential impact of the launch of generic Top-Level Domains (gTLDs), Banner & Witcoff offers the following content as a resource to monitor and analyze developments on the application process.
Significant Past Events
On June 20, 2011, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) approved the creation of generic Top-Level Domains for brands and organizations. Between 300 and 1,000 new gTLDs could be created per year under the new program.
On June 13, 2012, ICANN announced the applied-for gTLDs and their applicants -- view the list here.
This reveal triggered several more activities in the new gTLD program. The application comment period opened on June 13, 2012, and closed on September 26, 2013. The comment period allowed anyone interested to submit comments to express any points to be considered by the independent evaluation panels while evaluating any of the new gTLD applications. Almost 9,000 comments were submitted during the comment period and will be considered by the evaluation panels.
March 13, 2013: Formal Objection Period Closes
The formal objection period also opened on June 13, 2012, and closes on March 13, 2013. During the objection period, anyone with grounds to do so may submit a formal dispute resolution objection to any of the new gTLD applications. Filing an objection will trigger a formal dispute resolution process between the gTLD applicant and the objection, and, if sustained, will prevent the applied-for gTLD from being introduced. Unlike public comments, formal objections will require standing, filing fees and dispute resolution fees. Objections will be posted sometime in April 2013, at which time affected gTLD applicants will need to begin responding. For more information, visit ICANN's Objection Page here.
April 2013: GAC Advisories
Running parallel with the objection period, the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) to ICANN will also play a key role in protecting legal interests. The GAC continues to seek input from its member governments regarding the applied-for strings and issued "Early Warnings" on November 20, 2012, which indicate the strings may potentially violate national law or raise sensitivities. The GAC will issue its formal advisories in April 2013.
May/June 2013: Initial Evaluations End
Initial evalutions of the applications remain ongoing and are expected to close in May or June 2013. During initial evaluations, various evaluation panels conduct the string reviews and applicant reviews. String reviews focus on whether an applied-for gTLD is confusingly similar to an existing TLD, or even another applicant's applied-for gTLD; whether the gTLD violates a reserved string; whether it contributes to DNS instability; and whether it is a geographic name that is not allowed. Applicant reviews focus on the applying organization to determine if they have demonstrated the appropriate technical, operational and financial capabilities to run a registry. The applicant's proposed registry services will also be reviewed to determine whether they might cause DNS instability.
ICANN will post the outcome of initial evaluations, including whether applications have passed or failed evaluation, in May or June 2013, when evaluations are complete. Some results may be posted earlier than this date on a rolling basis. gTLDs that failed the initial evaluation can request extended evaluation.
In the ideal case, an application that has encountered no problems has passed initial evaluation. The applied-for string can begin a transition that will result in being delegated into the root zone, and eventually the string will be live and reachable on the Internet as a TLD. However, some applications will be subject to special processes depending on the circumstances. For example, if more than one party has applied to operate the same TLD (a circumstance referred to as string contention), attempts to resolve the contention begin. (See Applicant Guidebook Module 4 for details.)
- March 13, 2013 – Objection period closes
- April 2013 – Objections revealed and response period begins
- April 2013 – Earliest GAC advice
- May/June 2013 – Target to complete initial evaluations
- Mid-2013 – First delegation expected
Banner & Witcoff attorneys are available to answer questions and discuss gTLDs. Media inquiries should be directed to Amanda Robert at (312) 463-5465 or firstname.lastname@example.org.