Latest news of the domain name industry

Recent Posts

New gTLD batching: should .brands go first?

Kevin Murphy, November 9, 2011, 19:52:21 (UTC), Domain Policy

Should “.brand” and “.city” top-level domain applicants get priority treatment when ICANN picks which new gTLDs get to go live first?

That’s the worry in the domain name industry this week, in the wake of rumors about ICANN’s latest thinking on “batching” applications into a processing queue.

ICANN has said it will not process more than 500 applications at a time, but this may well be a low-ball estimate of how many it will actually receive in the first round.

Depending on how many companies decide to pull the trigger on .brand or .keyword applications, we could be looking at three times that number.

Random selection is probably a non-starter due to the risk of falling foul of US gambling laws, and ICANN has already ruled out an auction.

It’s likely that there will be a way to “opt out” of the first batch for applicants not particularly concerned about time-to-market, senior staff said at ICANN’s meeting in Dakar last month.

But the rumor doing the rounds this week is that the organization is thinking about prioritizing uncontested applications – gTLDs with a single applicant – into earlier batches.

This would mean that .brand and .city gTLDs would probably find themselves in the first batches, while contested generics such as .web and .music would be processed later.

It’s just a rumor at this point, but it’s one I’ve heard from a few sources. It also got an airing during Neustar’s #gtldchat Twitter conflab this evening.

Any gTLD purporting to represent a geographic location will need an endorsement from the relevant local government, which will lead to most geo-gTLD being uncontested.

Most, but perhaps not all, .brands are also likely to be uncontested, due to the relative uniqueness of the brand names with the resources to apply.

On the other hand, potentially lucrative strings such as .web, .blog, and .music will almost certainly have multiple applicants and will require lengthier processing cycles.

With a de facto prioritization of .brands and .cities, ICANN could put a bunch of gTLDs into the root, proving the new gTLD concept and giving it time to bulk up on experienced staff, before the whole thing sinks into a quagmire of objections, trademark gaming and spurious litigation.

I can see how that might be attractive option.

I’m not sure if it would solve the problem, however. If we’re looking at 1,500 applications, that’s three batches, so it would not be as simple as dividing them into contested and uncontested piles.

Of course, nobody knows how many applications will be submitted, and what the mix will be. It’s a very difficult problem to tackle in the dark.

What do you think? Should the contested status of a gTLD be used as a criterion for batching purposes?

Tagged: , ,

Comments (2)

  1. Tom G says:

    Yes, to a degree.

    But the process needs to also be balanced and fair.

    No doubt it would benefit ICANN and the New gTLD process as a whole to fast track certain types of applicants – Capital .CITY TLDs, uncontested .BRAND TLDs (that have a plan for immediate use in marketing)

    The worst case would be for this whole process to begin in a giant clusterfu**.

    But, we can’t assume that just because a .TLD is contested, it won’t resolve itself quickly. Many will resolve immediately, before initial evaluation is complete. (or could possibly already be ‘prearranged’).

    There should be a balanced approach where first batch includes some from all types – .CITIES, .BRANDS, .IDNS, .COMMUNITIES, AND contested .GENERICS.

    This way, ICANN can get a few new gTLDs out to market quickly, advertising, raising awareness and acceptance, but still allow the process to begin working on the tougher ones.

    It would be good to cherry pick some obvious easy ones up front though.

  2. Bret Fausett says:

    If we don’t launch open, general registration TLDs in the first batch, this process will have failed.

    One of the primary purposes of the gTLD expansion is to provide new registration spaces. If the first 500 consists primarily of brands planting billboards in the Internet’s infrastructure, we won’t have furthered the public interest.

    It’s not that I am against the TLDs you talk about in the article, but we need to remember why we started this process.

    If the first batch is only .brands and .cities and .obscures, that won’t make for a very satisfactory outcome from the perspective of Internet users and prospective registrants. ICANN needs to find a way to get the general purpose, open registration TLDs into the mix early.

    – Bret

Add Your Comment