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Full $185,000 refunds offered to risky new gTLD applicants

Kevin Murphy, February 8, 2018, Domain Policy

ICANN is to offer applicants for three new gTLDs identified as too risky to go live full refunds of their application fees.
Its board of directors acknowledged at its weekend retreat that it has no intention of delegating .corp, .home and .mail, and that each applicant should be able to get their entire $185,000 application fee back.
The applicants will have to withdraw their applications in order to get the refund.
Ordinarily, withdrawing an application would only qualify the applicants for a partial refund.
The ICANN board said in its resolution that it “does not intend to delegate the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL in the 2012 round of the New gTLD Program”.
It added that “the applicants were not aware before the application window that the strings .CORP, .HOME, and .MAIL would be identified as high-risk, and that the delegations of such high-risk strings would be deferred indefinitely.”
The three strings are considered risky because they already receive vast amounts of “name collision” traffic, largely from DNS queries that leak out from private networks.
There’s a concern that delegating any of them would create a big security risk in terms of confidential data leakage and stuff just generally breaking.
It’s been six years since the last new gTLD application window was open, and some applicants for the strings abandoned their bids years ago.
There are five remaining .corp applicants (and one withdrawal), five for .mail (two withdrawals) and ten for .home (one withdrawal).
The refunds will be taken from ICANN’s separate new gTLD program budget so presumably will not have an impact on its current operating budget woes.
The board noted that technically it did not have to give full refunds, under the terms of the Applicant Guidebook, but that it was doing so in the interest of “fairness”.
This may come as little comfort to applicants whose money has been tied up in limbo for the last six years.

ICANN dragging its feet on new gTLD refunds?

Kevin Murphy, September 10, 2012, Domain Registries

Former new gTLD applicants are having to wait for months to have their deposits refunded by ICANN, according to two companies that withdrew applications before Reveal Day.
One company withdrew four applications and requested a refund on May 7, some weeks before the TLD Application System closed to new applicants, according to the consultancy Sedari.
But the company, a Sedari client, is still waiting for the return of its $20,000 TAS access fee over four months later, according to Sedari.
Another applicant, GJB Partners, filed a complaint with the California Attorney General in July after waiting for over a month for the refund of a $185,000 application fee.
According to the complaint, the application was withdrawn June 6, a week before Reveal Day, after the company had TAS password problems and suspected foul play.
The company eventually received its refund July 11, shortly after filing the AG complaint.
Sedari’s client has yet to received its refunds, according to the company.
Are any other readers experiencing similar problems?

ICANN affirms full refunds for pissed-off gTLD applicants, silent on new CEO

Kevin Murphy, May 8, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN’s board of directors has approved full refunds for any new gTLD applicant that asks for one – something that the organization has already been offering for over a month.
At its two-day retreat in Amsterdam this weekend, the board’s New gTLD Program Committee resolved:

to offer to applicants a full refund of the New gTLD Application fee actually paid to ICANN if the applicant wishes to withdraw its application prior to the date that ICANN publicly posts the identification of all TLD applications.

The date of the Big Reveal, when the names of every applicant and every applied-for gTLD will be publicly posted and the refunds will no longer be available, has not yet been set.
While the resolution refers to the TLD Application System data leakage bug, the refund does not appear to be restricted to directly affected applicants. Anyone can claim it.
However, as regular DI readers know, ICANN had been offering full refunds to applicants that withdraw before the Big Reveal for weeks before the TAS bug emerged.
ICANN customer services reps told DI and at least one gTLD applicant in March that: “Applications withdrawn prior to the posting of the applied-for strings are qualified for a $180000 refund”.
ICANN said in a statement today:

We recognize that this represents an increase of only US $5000 over the refund that withdrawing applicants would otherwise receive, but we believe it is an important part of fulfilling our commitment to treat applicants fairly.

Under the terms of the Applicant Guidebook, the maximum refund available after the Reveal is $148,000.
In other news from Amsterdam…
The ICANN board has decided to let director Thomas Narten join the New gTLD Program Committee, which comprises all of the board members without new gTLD conflicts of interest.
Narten had been barred from the recently formed committee because he worked for IBM, which planned to apply for one or more new gTLDs.
But the board said he has now “mitigated the previously-identified conflict of interest with respect to the New gTLD Program”, so he gets to join the committee as a non-voting liaison.
It’s not clear from the weekend’s resolution why Narten is no longer conflicted. Two obvious possibilities spring to mind.
There was no news from Amsterdam on ICANN’s CEO hunt.
Incumbent Rod Beckstrom intends to “hand the baton” to his successor at the Prague meeting in late June, and the board already has a favored candidate lined up to replace him.
I understand that this candidate did attend the Amsterdam board retreat, albeit under a veil of secrecy lest his or her identity leak out before official confirmation.
But I also understand that the board has decided to move super-cautiously on the CEO decision, in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

How to get a $180,000 new gTLD refund

Kevin Murphy, March 30, 2012, Domain Policy

ICANN will give new gTLD applicants a $180,000 refund on their application fee if they withdraw before May 2, it has emerged.
This refund is not mentioned in the Applicant Guidebook, in which the maximum refund available is $148,000. Nor could I find any reference to it on the ICANN new gTLDs microsite.
However, in response to an inquiry from DI last night, an ICANN customer service rep said:

Applications withdrawn prior to the posting of the applied-for strings are qualified for a $180000 refund (if such payment has been made and reconciled by ICANN). The USD5000 registration fee is non-refundable.
The posting of the applied-for strings occurs approximately 2 weeks after the end of the application window, which closes on 12 April 2012. Applications withdrawn after the posting of the applied-for strings will receive refunds according to the refund schedule in section 1.5 of the Applicant Guidebook.

At least one other person, new gTLD consultant Michael Palage of Pharos Global, was told substantially the same thing by the new gTLD service center earlier this week.
I believe ICANN is currently targeting May 2 for its Big Reveal, when we all find out who’s applying for what. May 1, I believe, has been ruled out because it’s a public holiday in some parts of the world.
I don’t think this apparently obscure refund opportunity significantly increases the risk of gaming, but I can see how it might alter some applicants’ strategies.
It’s possible, for example, that in some cases it might now make more sense for an applicant to announce its bid between April 12 and May 2.
After April 12, nobody will be able to file a competing, gaming application, but revealing a strong bid might be enough to scare already-competing applicants into dropping out for a 97% refund.
I don’t think it really helps reluctant dot-brand applicants, which have asked for the $180,000 refund to be available after they know what the competitive landscape for similar strings looks like.