ICANN’s new top-level domains program is unlikely to be approved at its San Francisco meeting next month, according to chairman Peter Dengate Thrush.
“We don’t think we’ll be able to approve the final applicant guidebook in March,” he said in a new interview with World Trademark Review.
This confirms my suspicion that changes to the Guidebook made following the upcoming meeting between ICANN and its Governmental Advisory Committee may be too extensive for ICANN to rubber-stamp without first consulting the community.
The ICANN board and the GAC are due to meet in Brussels, February 28 and March 1, to discuss the GAC’s outstanding concerns.
Chief among these concerns is trademark protection, where the GAC is pretty much aligned with the interests of the intellectual property constituency.
Brussels will also cover matters such as geographic names protection and procedures for dealing with controversial strings that governments may want to object to.
While ICANN is under no obligation to adopt the GAC’s suggestions wholesale, if it makes substantial concessions its bylaws will likely demand more public comment on the changes.
ICANN’s board indicated last week that it plans to tell the GAC where it disagrees with its advice at a consultation March 17, one day before its San Francisco meeting.
It also said that it plans to approve a Guidebook “as close as practically possible to the form as set out in the Proposed Final Applicant Guidebook” published in November.
UPDATE: I had an opportunity to put Dengate Thrush’s comments to ICANN CEO Rod Beckstrom this afternoon. He said: “I’m not going to forecast when the final Applicant Guidebook will be approved.”