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ICANN’s new TLD rulebook is out

Kevin Murphy, November 13, 2010, 10:50:39 (UTC), Domain Registries

ICANN posted its proposed final Applicant Guidebook for new top-level domains a couple hours ago.
The document is now subject to public comment until noon UTC, December 10, just before the ICANN board convenes in Cartagena.
As I speculated earlier in the week, ICANN has reduced the length of the feedback window from 30 days in order to hit its launch deadlines.
Here’s a review of some changes, based on a quick scan of the 360-page redlined document (pdf).
One change that will certainly be of interest of applicants:

If the volume of applications received significantly exceeds 500, applications will be processed in batches and the 5-month timeline will not be met. The first batch will be limited to 500 applications and subsequent batches will be limited to 400 to account for capacity limitations due to managing extended evaluation, string contention, and other processes associated with each previous batch.
A process external to the application submission process will be employed to establish evaluation priority. This process will be based on an online ticketing system or other objective criteria.

Does this mean “get your applications in early” is a winning strategy? I’ll try to find out.
One of the most sensitive outstanding issues, the right of governments to object to TLDs on “morality and public order” grounds, is now called a “Limited Public Interest Objection”:

Governments may provide a notification using the public comment forum to communicate concerns relating to national laws. However, a government’s notification of concern will not in itself be deemed to be a formal objection. A notification by a government does not constitute grounds for rejection of a gTLD application.

The AGB now specifies that such objections must be based on principles of international law, as codified in various international agreements. The string, and the proposed usage, will be subject to these objections.
The section on applicant background checks has also been overhauled. It now makes reference to child sex offenses, and focuses more on intellectual property infringements, but eschews references to terrorism.
However, if any group considered Evil by the United States applies for a TLD, they may be out of luck. The new AGB points out that ICANN has to abide by sanctions imposed by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control.
There are a couple of little oddities in the AGB too. For example, strings relating to the contested geographic term “Macedonia” are singled out as verboten.
Intergovernmental organizations that meet the criteria to register a .int are now also granted special objection privileges.
Contested geographical terms will no longer be subject to the auction process — applicants will have to fight it out between themselves.
The vertical integration issue, resolved by the ICANN board last week, also makes an appearance. Registrars are now able to apply for new TLDs, but ICANN reserves the right to refer such applications to governmental competition authorities.
More later.

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Comments (5)

  1. Top Secret gTLD Meetings Dec 6-7 prior to…
    San Francisco California, December 8-9, 2010

  2. Louise says:

    Section 1.3, page 38:
    It is expected that the variant information provided by applicants in the first application round will contribute to a better understanding of the issues and assist in determining appropriate review steps and fee levels going forward.
    ^^ The first applicants will be guinea pigs for how fees are applied. It’s not just a one-time fee! VV
    1.5.2 Fees Required in Some Cases
    Applicants may be required to pay additional fees in certain cases where specialized process steps are applicable. Those possible additional fees include:
    • Registry Services Review Fee – If applicable, this fee is payable for additional costs incurred in referring an application to the Registry Services Technical Evaluation Panel (RSTEP) for an extended review. Applicants will be notified if such a fee is due. The fee for a three- member RSTEP review team is anticipated to be USD 50,000. In some cases, fivemember
    panels might be required, or there might be increased scrutiny at a greater cost. In every case, the applicant will be advised of the cost before initiation of the review. Refer to subsection 2.2.3 of Module 2 on Registry Services review.
    • Dispute Resolution Filing Fee – This amount must accompany any filing of a formal objection and any response that an applicant files to an objection. This fee is payable directly to the applicable dispute resolution service provider in accordance with the provider’s payment instructions. ICANN estimates that non-refundable filing fees could range from approximately USD 1,000 to USD 5,000 (or more) per party per proceeding. Refer to the appropriate provider for
    the relevant amount. Refer to Module 3 for dispute resolution procedures.
    • Advance Payment of Costs – In the event of a formal objection, this amount is payable directly to the applicable dispute resolution service provider in accordance with that provider’s procedures and schedule of costs. Ordinarily, both parties in the dispute resolution proceeding will be required to submit an advance payment of costs in an estimated amount to cover the entire cost of the proceeding. This may be either an hourly fee based on the estimated number of hours the panelists will spend on the case (including review of submissions, facilitation of a hearing, if allowed, and preparation of a decision), or a fixed amount. In cases where disputes are consolidated and there are more than two parties involved, the advance payment will occur according to the dispute resolution service provider’s rules. The prevailing party in a dispute resolution proceeding will have its advance payment refunded, while the non-prevailing party will not receive a refund and thus will bear the cost of the proceeding. In cases where disputes are consolidated and there are more than two parties involved, the refund of fees will occur according to the dispute resolution service provider’s rules. ICANN estimates that adjudication fees for a proceeding involving a fixed amount could range from USD 2,000 to USD 8,000 (or more) per proceeding. ICANN further estimates that an hourly rate based proceeding with a one-member panel could range from USD 32,000 to USD 56,000 (or more) and with a three-member panel it could range from USD 70,000 to USD 122,000 (or more). These estimates may be lower if the panel does not call for written submissions beyond the objection and response, and does not allow a hearing. Please refer to the appropriate provider for the relevant amounts or fee structures.
    • Community Priority Evaluation Fee – In the event that the applicant participates in a community priority evaluation, this fee is payable as a deposit in an amount to cover the cost of the panel’s review of that application (currently estimated at USD 10,000). The deposit is payable to the provider appointed to handle community priority evaluations. Applicants will be notified if such a fee is due. Refer to Section 4.2 of Module 4 for circumstances in which a community priority evaluation may take place. An applicant who scores at or above the threshold for the community priority evaluation will have its deposit refunded. ICANN will notify the applicants of due dates for payment in respect of additional fees (if applicable). This list does not include fees (annual registry fees) that will be payable to ICANN following execution of a registry agreement.
    – page 45
    Do you think ICANN is going to test the waters to see how it pans out about adding review, filing, cost fees? Where does it all end? ICANN will test the waters.

  3. Louise says:

    Not a single mention of domain “tasting.” Where is the obligation of self-policing?

  4. Louise says:

    Just what does this mean? What does it mean? What does it mean?
    3.6 Registrations that include top level extensions such as “” or “.icann” as part of the word mark will not be permitted in the Clearinghouse regardless of whether that mark has been registered or it has been otherwise validated or protected (e.g., if a mark existed for, or .icann, neither will not be permitted in the Clearinghouse).

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