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Ombudsman probing secretive Trademark Clearinghouse meetings

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN Ombudsman Chris LaHatte is investigating ICANN’s recent closed-door Trademark Clearinghouse talks, and wants feedback from community members.

In a brief blog post this evening, LaHatte wrote:

I have received a complaint about the process used in the recent Trademark Clearinghouse meetings where decisions were made on the way forward. The complaint in summary says that the decisions were made without full consultation from some contituencies. I have of course not formed any view on this, and need input from people who participated and were pleased with the process, or from others who feel they were excluded. Such submissions can be made to me at ombudsman@icann.org, or on this blog. as comments.

The complaint refers to meetings in Brussels and Los Angeles recently, convened by CEO Fadi Chehade to discuss proposals jointly submitted by the Intellectual Property Constituency and Business Constituency.

The IPC and BC continue to call for stronger trademark protections in the new gTLD program, and the talks were designed to see if any changes could be made to the TMCH that would fulfill these requests.

The two meetings ultimately saw ICANN come up with a “strawman proposal” for giving the IPC/BC some of what they wanted, which is currently open for public comment.

However, the meetings were invitation-only and, unusually for ICANN, not webcast live. Attendees at the LA meeting also say that they were asked by ICANN not to tweet or blog about the talks.

While the LA meeting was apparently recorded, to the best of my knowledge the audio has not yet been released.

While LaHatte did not of course name the person who complained about these meetings, I’d hazard a guess they are from the non-commercial side of the house, members of which have already complained that they were vastly outnumbered by IP interests.

(UPDATE: I was correct. The complaint was filed by Maria Farrell of the Non-Commercial Users Constituency)

Former GNSO Council chair Stephane Van Gelder (from the Registrar Constituency) also recently wrote a guest post for DI in which he questioned the possible circumvention of ICANN’s established bottom-up policy-making processes.

There’s also substantial concern in other constituencies that ICANN is trying to appease the trademark lobby for political reasons, attempting to force through their desired changes to the new gTLD program under the guise of tweaks to “implementation” detail.

Chehade has asked the GNSO Council for “policy guidance” on the TMCH strawman proposals, which seems to be already stirring up passions on the Council ahead of its December 20 meeting.

The question of what is “implementation” and what is “policy” is a meme that we will be returning to before long, without doubt.

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New gTLD lottery tickets now on sale

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Registries

ICANN has started selling its $100-a-pop New gTLD Prioritization Draw raffle tickets in Los Angeles, with a little less than a week to go until the make-or-break drawing.

The organization is understandably eager not to balls it up this time — the Draw replaces Digital Archery, which was killed off largely due to how silly it was — so there are strict rules in place.

Due to the Californian lottery laws the Draw will operate under, applicants have to show up in person to buy their tickets, or ask a designated proxy to do it for them.

To avoid any funny business, each buyer has to show up with a government ID with details matching those on the special Designation Form, which in turn must be signed by a named individual from the gTLD application itself.

It’s strictly one ticket per application, of course.

Some applicants have got in early. Here’s photographic evidence that some applicants have successfully bought theirs, courtesy of Uniregistry counsel Bret Fausett.

Draw tickets

The draw itself will take place on December 17, starting at about 1pm local time, at the LA airport Hilton. Anyone who shows up to buy tickets after 11am that day will be turned away.

With over 1,900 applications, we could be looking at eight hours or more of pulling pieces of paper out of a bucket.

The whole thing will be webcast for people who, like me, have nothing better to do with their time.

Opting out of the process is as simple as not buying a ticket, but there’ll be a secondary draw to determine the prioritization of opted-out applications.

Applications for internationalized domain names will be drawn first, followed by non-IDNs, followed by opted-out IDNs, followed by opted-out non-IDNs.

Why is this lottery so important?

For many applicants it’s going to determine their time to market, which could mean the difference between launching into a market eager for new real estate and launching into one jaded by flops.

In some cases a good draw number could be worth millions. But unfortunately for applicants, they won’t be able to trade their tickets or prioritization slots.

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Van Gelder leaves NBT, goes solo with consulting biz

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

Stephane Van Gelder, who co-founded the French registrar Indom in 1999, is leaving the company at the end of the year.

He’s founding a new company, Stephane Van Gelder Consulting, saying he wants to provide consulting services to domain portfolio owners, registrars and registries.

Indom was acquired by European registrar holding company Group NBT two years ago for about $22 million.

Van Gelder was until October chair of ICANN’s Generic Names Supporting Organization Council, and has recently kindly provided DI with a few provocative guest posts.

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List your job openings for free on DI Jobs

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Services

DI Jobs has been given a total overhaul, and I’m pleased to announced that you can now list your domain name industry job openings completely free of charge.

You can check out the new site here.

The new service supports logos, maps, tags, and allows extensive job descriptions to be uploaded. After posting, ads can be edited by the poster via the account interface.

It’s new software, so should be considered a “beta” for the time being, but early testers tell me everything is functioning as expected so far.

It’s our intention to keep the listing service free forever, though we may introduced premium-placement options at a later date.

DI JOBS

DI JOBS

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Go Daddy gets its fourth CEO in a year

Kevin Murphy, December 12, 2012, Domain Registrars

Go Daddy has appointed Blake Irving, formerly of Microsoft and Yahoo, as its new CEO.

He’s the fourth man to take the top spot at the market-leading registrar in the last 12 months.

Founding CEO Bob Parsons stepped aside for his protege COO Warren Adelman a year ago, but he too was replaced in August by the company’s new investors.

Irving was most recently chief products officer at Yahoo, but has spent most of his career as a Microsoftie, heading up the Windows Live platform at the tail end of his 15-year tenure.

He will take over from interim CEO Scott Wagner of KKR Ventures on January 7 next year.

Domain Name Wire has a few quotes from the new guy over here.

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