ICANN’s new top-level domains program has been delayed, likely for a few months at least, after governments submitted a laundry list of issues they believe are still unresolved.
The Governmental Advisory Committee is mainly bothered that the Applicant Guidebook fails to adequately protect trademark rights and that the cost of the program could outweigh the benefits.
The ICANN board resolved at its meeting here in Cartagena earlier today to meet with the GAC for an unprecedented consultation next February.
(The meeting will also discuss the .xxx application, which I’ve reported on for The Register).
The actual board resolution is hopelessly lengthy and confusing at first reading. Take this doublethink:
ICANN considers that the solutions developed to address the overarching issues of trademark protection, mitigating malicious conduct, and root-zone scaling substantially reflect the negotiated position of the ICANN community, but ICANN will take into account public comment including the advice of the GAC.
Some delegates here tell me they think this means the book has been closed on the portions of the guidebook dealing with IP protection mechanisms, for example.
(J Scott Evans, head of the IP constituency, stormed out of the room in a huff when this part of the resolution was read aloud.)
But the text of the resolution pretty clearly states that IP protections and the other overarching issues are still open for negotiation with the GAC and could be amended based on comments filed this week.
The resolution is open to interpretation with regards these three “overarching issues”.
It does, however, refer to other issues that are explicitly unresolved in ICANN’s view, namely the treatment of geographic names and the handling of “morality and public order” objections.
Both are singled out as needing more work before they can be finalized.
What does all this mean for the launch timetable? I think it means there isn’t one. Again.
[The ICANN board] Directs staff to synthesize the results of these consultations and comments, and to prepare revisions to the guidebook to enable the Board to make a decision on the launch of the new gTLD program as soon as possible.
“As soon as possible” is either meaningless or, taken literally, means the board’s next meeting. That’s likely to be late January, if previous years are any guide.