dotBerlin hires Nic.at

Austrian registry Nic.at has signed its second city top-level domain partner in the form of dotBerlin, the company that has been planning a .berlin bid for several years.

The news follows its deal with dotHamburg, announced last week.

Nic.at, which now manages over 1 million .at domains, is the largest German-speaking registry that is also offering back-end registry services to new gTLD applicants.

This, I’m told, makes it particularly reassuring to German local government, which get proven scale and a local(ish) partner which speaks the same lingo.

There’s another .berlin applicant, UniteBerlin, which is backed by Minds + Machines and, following its recent partnership announcement, Neustar.

The support of Berlin’s local authority will decide the winner.

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Neustar eats own dog food, plans .neustar bid

Neustar has become the first domain name registry to publicly reveal its own “.brand” top-level domain application, announcing this week a .neustar bid.

The company is one of many offering registry services to brand owners that want to run their own custom TLD, so it makes marketing sense for Neustar to put its money where its mouth is.

But it may also run the risk of diluting its .biz brand (such as it is), depending on whether or not it plans to migrate its primary site, neustar.biz, entirely to .neustar.

Neustar is one of only a handful of companies to announce .brand bids. Canon and Hitachi are the two best-known, but others including IBM and Nokia have expressed serious interest.

ICANN has previously predicted as many as 200 .brand bids in the first round, which begins January 12, 2012.

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First post-approval new gTLD bids announced

After ICANN approved its new generic top-level domains program here in Singapore on Monday, many people I spoke to predicted a new “quiet period” for gTLD application announcements.

There’s a feeling among some that there’s little to be gained now from revealing what gTLD you plan to apply for, particularly if you’re a smaller player that could easily be out-bid by a larger, later applicant.

Nevertheless, today we have the news that GJB Partners plans to apply for .jewelers, one of the narrowest niche gTLDs to be announced to date.

GJB’s managing partner is George Bundy, CEO of .fm and .am registry BRS Media, which also plans to apply for .radio.

I imagine the choice of string took some thought – it’s plural rather than singular, US rather than UK English (in which it would be “.jeweller”).

In such cases, you only need to pick one. If this bid is successful, ICANN’s confusing similarity rules will make sure that .jeweller, .jeweler and .jewellers never see the light of day.

Also emerging this week, the city of Tokyo has announced that it will seek a .tokyo delegation, and is calling for expressions of interest.

That news follows the announcement last week of a commercial bidder for the .okinawa and .ryukyu geo-TLDs, to represent the Japanese region of Okinawa.

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Infographic — the approved new gTLDs timeline

Kevin Murphy, June 20, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors today approved this timetable for the first round of new top-level domain applications.

Also available in PDF format here.

New gTLDs timetable

(click to enlarge)

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New gTLD program approved — full resolution

Kevin Murphy, June 20, 2011, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors has approved its new generic top-level domains program and will start accepting applications from companies in January next year.

The vote this morning at the Raffles City Convention Center in Singapore, was 13 in favor, with George Sadowsky voting against.

Bruce Tonkin of registrar Melbourne IT abstained on conflict-of-interest grounds, and Mike Silber abstained because, while generally in favor of the program, he did not believe it was ready yet.

Here’s the resolution in full. I’ll provide commentary later in the day.

Approval of the New gTLD Program

Whereas, on 28 November 2005, the GNSO Council voted unanimously to initiate a policy development process on the introduction of new gTLDs.

Whereas, the GNSO Committee on the Introduction of New gTLDs addressed a range of difficult technical, operational, legal, economic, and policy questions, and facilitated widespread participation and public comment throughout the policy development process.

Whereas, on 6 September 2007, the GNSO Council approved by a supermajority vote a motion supporting the 19 recommendations, as a whole, as set out in the Final Report of the ICANN Generic Names Supporting Organisation on the Introduction of New Generic Top-Level Domains going forward to the ICANN Board (http://gnso.icann.org/issues/new-gtlds/pdp-dec05-fr-parta-08aug07.htm).

Whereas, the Board instructed staff to review the GNSO recommendations and determine whether they were capable of implementation, and staff engaged international technical, operational and legal expertise to support the implementation of the policy recommendations and developed implementation plans for the GNSO’s policy recommendations.

Whereas, on 26 June 2008, the Board adopted the GNSO policy recommendations for the introduction of new gTLDs and directed staff to further develop and complete its detailed implementation plan, continue communication with the community on such work, and provide the Board with a final version of the implementation proposals for the board and community to approve before the launching of the new gTLD application process (http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-26jun08.htm#_Toc76113171).

Whereas, staff has made implementation details publicly available in the form of drafts of the gTLD Applicant Guidebook and supporting materials for public discussion and comment.

Whereas, the first draft of the Applicant Guidebook was published on 23 October 2008 , and the Guidebook has undergone continued substantial revisions based on stakeholder input on multiple drafts.

Whereas, the Board has conducted intensive consultations with the Governmental Advisory Committee (including in Brussels in February 2011, in San Francisco in March 2011, by telephone in May 2011, and in Singapore on 19 June 2011), resulting in substantial agreement on a wide range of issues noted by the GAC, and the Board has directed revisions to the Applicant Guidebook to reflect such agreement.

Whereas, ICANN received letters from the United States Department of Commerce and the European Commission addressing the issue of registry-registrar cross-ownership, and the Board considered the concerns expressed therein. The Board agrees that the potential abuse of significant market power is a serious concern, and discussions with competition authorities will continue.

Whereas, ICANN has consulted with the GAC to find mutually acceptable solutions on areas where the implementation of policy is not consistent with GAC advice, and where necessary has identified its reasons for not incorporating the advice in particular areas, as required by the Bylaws; see .

Whereas, the ICANN community has dedicated countless hours to the review and consideration of numerous implementation issues, by the submission of public comments, participation in working groups, and other consultations.

Whereas, the Board has listened to the input that has been provided by the community, including the supporting organizations and advisory committees, throughout the implementation process.

Whereas, careful analysis of the obligations under the Affirmation of Commitments and the steps taken throughout the implementation process indicates that ICANN has fulfilled the commitments detailed in the Affirmation (http://www.icann.org/en/documents/affirmation-of-commitments-30sep09-en.htm).

Whereas, the Applicant Guidebook posted on 30 May 2011 (http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/comments-7-en.htm) includes updates resulting from public comment and from recent GAC advice.

Whereas, the draft New gTLDs Communications Plan forms the basis of the global outreach and education activities that will be conducted leading up to and during the execution of the program in each of the ICANN geographic regions.

Whereas, the Draft FY12 Operating Plan and Budget (http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-17may11-en.htm) includes a New gTLD Program Launch Scenario, and the Board is prepared to approve the expenditures included in Section 7 of the Draft FY12 Operating Plan and Budget.

Whereas, the Board considers an applicant support program important to ensuring an inclusive and diverse program, and will direct work to implement a model for providing support to potential applicants from developing countries.

Whereas, the Board’s Risk Committee has reviewed a comprehensive risk assessment associated with implementing the New gTLD Program, has reviewed the defined strategies for mitigating the identified risks, and will review contingencies as the program moves toward launch.

Whereas, the Board has reviewed the current status and plans for operational readiness and program management within ICANN.

Resolved (2011.06.20.01), the Board authorizes the President and CEO to implement the new gTLD program which includes the following elements:

1. the 30 May 2011 version of the Applicant Guidebook (http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/comments-7-en.htm), subject to the revisions agreed to with the GAC on 19 June 2011, including: (a) deletion of text in Module 3 concerning GAC advice to remove references indicating that future Early Warnings or Advice must contain particular information or take specified forms; (b) incorporation of text concerning protection for specific requested Red Cross and IOC names for the top level only during the initial application round, until the GNSO and GAC develop policy advice based on the global public interest, and (c) modification of the “loser pays” provision in the URS to apply to complaints involving 15 (instead of 26) or more domain names with the same registrant; the Board authorizes staff to make further updates and changes to the Applicant Guidebook as necessary and appropriate, including as the possible result of new technical standards, reference documents, or policies that might be adopted during the course of the application process, and to prominently publish notice of such changes;

2. the Draft New gTLDs Communications Plan as posted at (http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/new-gtlds-communications-plan-30may11-en.pdf), as may be revised and elaborated as necessary and appropriate;

3. operational readiness activities to enable the opening of the application process;

4. a program to ensure support for applicants from developing countries, with a form, structure and processes to be determined by the Board in consultation with stakeholders including: (a) consideration of the GAC recommendation for a fee waiver corresponding to 76 percent of the $185,000 USD evaluation fee, (b) consideration of recommendations of the ALAC and GNSO as chartering organizations of the Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group, (c) designation of a budget of up to $2 million USD for seed funding, and creating opportunities for other parties to provide matching funds, and (d) the review of additional community feedback, advice from ALAC, and recommendations from the GNSO following their receipt of a Final Report from the JAS Working Group (requested in time to allow staff to develop an implementation plan for the Board’s consideration at its October 2011 meeting in Dakar, Senegal), with the goal of having a sustainable applicant support system in place before the opening of the application window;

5. a process for handling requests for removal of cross-ownership restrictions on operators of existing gTLDs who want to participate in the new gTLD program, based on the “Process for Handling Requests for Removal of Cross-Ownership Restrictions for Existing gTLDs” (http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-02may11-en.htm), as modified in response to comments ; consideration of modification of existing agreements to allow cross-ownership with respect to the operation of existing gTLDs is deferred pending further discussions including with competition authorities;

6. the expenditures related to the New gTLD Program as detailed in section 7 of the Draft FY12 Operating Plan and Budget http://www.icann.org/en/announcements/announcement-17may11-en.htm); and

7. the timetable as set forth in the attached graphic , elements of which include the New gTLD application window opening on 12 January 2012 and closing on 12 April 2012, with the New gTLD Communications Plan beginning immediately.

Resolved (2011.06.20.02), the Board and the GAC have completed good faith consultations in a timely and efficient manner under the ICANN Bylaws, Article XI, Section 2.j. As the Board and the GAC were not able to reach a mutually acceptable solution on a few remaining issues, pursuant to ICANN Bylaws, Article XI, Section 2.k, the Board incorporates and adopts as set forth in the document describing the remaining areas of difference between ICANN’s Board and the GAC the reasons why the GAC advice was not followed. The Board’s statement is without prejudice to the rights or obligations of GAC members with regard to public policy issues falling within their responsibilities.

Resolved (2011.06.20.03), the Board wishes to express its deep appreciation to the ICANN community, including the members of the GAC, for the extraordinary work it has invested in crafting the New gTLD Program in furtherance of ICANN’s mission and core values, and counts on the community’s ongoing support in executing and reviewing the program.

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