Remember that last-minute rush I was telling you about?
ICANN has revealed that it now has 556 registered users in its Top-Level Domain Application System, up from 290 just a week ago.
Each TAS account can be used to apply for 49 new gTLDs (not 50 as previously reported), so we’re looking at anywhere from 0 to 27,244 new gTLD applications.
Based on what I’ve heard from consultants, I estimate that the true number of applications represented by these 556 accounts could be over 1,000.
Companies applying for dot-brand gTLDs are in many cases also applying for a couple of keyword gTLDs related to their vertical industry too, I hear.
Fairwinds Partners, which has been mostly working with skeptical brands, said this week that its clients on average are applying for 2.7s gTLD each.
Applied across all the TAS accounts registered to date, that would mean 1,501 applications.
The deadline for new TAS registrations is this Thursday, March 29, at 2359 UTC. That’s 1659 in ICANN’s native California and 1959 on America’s east coast.
Remember that while the UK switches from GMT (which is the same as UTC) to BST tomorrow morning, UTC does not observe daylight savings and remains the same.
Minds + Machines parent Top Level Domain Holdings has become the third company to publicly confirm an application for the .music top-level domain.
TLDH has partnered with “music industry figures including artists, managers, music producers and lawyers” going by the name of LHL TLD Investment Partners on a joint-venture bid.
M+M will provide the technical back-end for the applicant.
The other two known applicants for .music are Far Further, which has the backing of most major music trade groups, and the long-running MyTLD/Music.us/Roussos Group campaign.
Assuming Roussos and TLDH can each pull one plausible public comment objection out of the bag, Far Further’s Community Priority Evaluation is probably scuppered.
With two objections, a CPE candidate needs a perfect 14/14 score on the remaining criteria, which is likely going to be pretty difficult when you’re applying for such a generic term.
In other new gTLD applicant news…
.miami — TLDH also announced today that it plans to apply for .miami, having secured the support of City of Miami in a 4-0 vote of its commissioners.
.nyc – The city of New York has reportedly granted its consent to Neustar to apply for .nyc, apparently beating out other wannabe applicants including TLDH.
.vlaanderen – The Flemish government has awarded the right to apply for .vlaanderen (.flanders) to DNS.be. The registry will reportedly work with Nic.at on the application.
.nagoya – GMO Registry has announced a bid for the Japanese city gTLD .nagoya, with the backing of the local government. Nagoya is Japan’s third-largest city.
If you’re planning to apply to ICANN for more than one new generic top-level domain and you do not already have a TLD Application System account, today might be your last day to get one.
Go here to get one.
It’s been widely publicized that April 12 is the last day to file a new gTLD application with ICANN.
It’s also been widely publicized that March 29 is the last day to register an account with TAS, which is a prerequisite to filing an application.
A less well-known date is today, March 23, five business days before TAS closes to new registrants.
According to ICANN, organizations applying for more than one gTLD with the same TAS account need to get registered in TAS at least a week before registration closes.
ICANN said this today, in reply to a DI inquiry:
29 March is the deadline for registration.
This means applicants will have until 29 March to request an application.
If the applicant is a new user and wishes to submit only one application, the applicant may initiate and complete the application request on the same day (29 March for example).
If an applicant wishes to submit multiple applications, it will need to initiate the registration process several days in advance of the application window.
The reason being that only registered TAS users may request multiple applications.
The process for becoming a registered TAS user not only includes completing the application request as mentioned, but also the legal review, USD 5000 registration fee payment, reconciliation of the registration fee payment, and receipt of TAS login credentials.
ICANN announced a few weeks ago that “ICANN recommends that organizations wishing to submit several TLD applications under a single TAS user account complete steps 1 and 2 several days (e.g. 5 to 7 business days) in advance of 29 March.”
It seems that if you need to submit multiple new gTLD applications and you haven’t already, you will still be able to do so before March 29, as long as you file them under separate newly created TAS accounts.
But please don’t take my word for it. ICANN’s communications on this particular issue have not been great.
Go check out the official site or contact ICANN if you’re worried.
A small New York company has warned new gTLD applicants that it owns 482 top-level domain strings and that ICANN has “no authority” to award them to anybody else.
Name.Space claims it has ownership rights to potentially valuable gTLDs including several likely to be applied for by others, such as .shop, .nyc, .sex, .hotel and .green.
It’s been operating hundreds of “gTLDs” in a lightly-used alternate DNS root system since 1996.
Now the company has filed for trademark protection for several of these strings and has said that it will apply for several through the ICANN new gTLD program.
But Name.Space, which says it has just “tens of thousands” of domain registrations in its alternate root, is also claiming that it already owns all 482 strings in the ICANN root too.
“What we did is put them on notice that they cannot give any of these 482 names to anyone else,” CEO Alex Mashinsky told DomainIncite. “These names predate ICANN. They don’t have authority under US law to issue these gTLDs to third parties.”
“We’re putting out there the 482 names to make sure other people don’t risk their money applying for things ICANN cannot legally give them,” he added.
It’s a slightly ridiculous position. Anyone can set up an alternative DNS root, fill it with dictionary words and start selling names – the question is whether anyone actually uses it.
However, putting that aside, Name.Space may have a legitimate quarrel with ICANN anyway.
It applied for a whopping 118 gTLDs in ICANN’s initial “test-bed” round in 2000, which produced the likes of .biz, .info, .name and .museum.
While ICANN did not select any of Name.Space’s proposed names for delegation, it did not “reject” its application outright either.
This is going to cause problems. Name.Space is not the only unsuccessful 2000 applicant that remains pissed off 12 years later that ICANN has not closed the book on its application.
Image Online Design, an alternate root provider and 2000 applicant, has a claim to .web that is likely to emerge as an issue for other applicants after the May 2 reveal date.
These unsuccessful candidates are unhappy that they’ve been repeatedly told that their old applications were not rejected, and with the privileges ICANN has given them in the current Applicant Guidebook.
ICANN will give any unsuccessful bidder from the 2000 round an $86,000 discount on its application fees, provided they apply for the same string they applied for the first time.
However, like any other applicant this time around, they also have to sign away their rights to sue.
And the $86,000 discount is only redeemable against one gTLD application, not 118.
“We applied for 118 and we would like to get the whole 118,” said Mashinsky.
ICANN is not going to give Name.Space what it wants, of course, so it’s not clear how this is going to play out.
The company could file Legal Rights Objections against applications for strings it thinks it owns, or it could take matters further.
While the company is not yet making legal threats, any applicants for gTLDs on Name.Space’s list should be aware that they do have an additional risk factor to take into account.
“We hope we can resolve all of this amicably,” said Mashinsky. “We’re not trying to throw a monkey wrench into the process.”
Yet another member of ICANN’s board of directors may have a conflict of interest relating to the new generic top-level domains program, it has emerged.
As well as its official open meeting last Friday, the board held three off-the-books meetings during ICANN 44 last week, the outcomes of which have just been published.
Last Wednesday, March 14, the board met in private and passed this resolution:
Resolved (2012.03.14.01), the Subcommittee of the Board Governance Committee on Ethics and Conflicts is requested to review its determination of a perceived, potential or actual conflict of interest in relation to one of the Directors to determine if the mitigation factors identified remain correct as a result of new information learned at the meeting.
In other words, a director currently identified as non-conflicted in relation to the gTLD program may in fact be conflicted as ICANN defines it, based on newly acquired information.
The resolution does not state which director it refers to.
If I had to speculate — and funnily enough I feel compelled to do so — I’d say it’s Judith Vasquez.
Vasquez’s latest statement of interest, also published last week, states that she has “indicated that she may be involved with a new gTLD application”.
This potential conflict was first identified by ICANN in October, shortly before she joined the board.
Other directors whose employers are thinking about applying for new gTLDs – such as IBM’s Thomas Narten – have recused themselves from related discussions.
It’s not clear why Vasquez has not recused herself.
In any event, last week’s resolution could refer to another director whose SOI does not currently state a potential conflict.
Ethics at ICANN have been on ICANN’s agenda since the Singapore meeting last June – former chair Peter Dengate Thrush’s move to Minds + Machines saw to that.
The issue was raised again by CEO Rod Beckstrom during his Costa Rica opening address last Monday, in which he talked about a “tangle of conflicting agendas” on the board.
Such is the degree of concern that ICANN’s Board Governance Committee recently discussed setting up a new committee, comprising the non-conflicted directors, to hold delegated authority over all matters related to the new gTLD program.
ICANN staff were directed to create a formal proposal for such a committee for consideration in Costa Rica last week, but that does not appear to have happened.
While seven of ICANN’s 21 directors recused themselves from a February vote due to new gTLD program conflicts, only four of those were among the 16 voting directors.