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Wrap-up: ICANN 46 in Beijing

Earlier this April, the largest ICANN meeting ever—more than 2,500 attendees—kicked off in Beijing. Given the imminent addition of hundreds of “dot Brands” to the Internet, the topic of new gTLDs was at the top of the discussion list for all attendees. So far, well over 100 new gTLD applications have passed the Initial Evaluation stage, meaning they’re on their way to becoming live domains.

At the meeting, ICANN’s Government Advisory Committee (GAC) released its formal advice on new gTLDs. The GAC made a number of points to the ICANN Board including:

  • A request to further review a specified list of strings and present advice at ICANN 47
  • Six specific contractual safeguards that should be placed on all gTLDs, including WHOIS verification and abuse mitigation
  • Contractual safeguards that should be placed on particular categories of TLDs, including consumer protection, sensitive strings, regulated markets and those with restricted registration policies
  • Urging the ICANN board to reconsider its decision to allow singular and plural versions of the same strings

GAC advice is becoming the single biggest area of uncertainty for new TLD applicants. It not only appears to adjust requirements approved by the community in the Applicant Guidebook, it also is evolving with each new communique.

One reporter noted, “It looks like at least 517 new gTLD applications [may] be affected by the GAC’s advice.” I’m sure there will be many more discussions about this topic.

Registrar Accreditation Agreement (RAA) and Registry Agreement

ICANN CEO Fadi Chehade announced newly revised versions of both the 2013 Registrar Accreditation Agreement and Registry Agreement, which are now posted for public comment. ICANN is looking at ways to keep the debate over these contracts from delaying the overall application process.

Trademark Clearinghouse

Earlier, in March, the Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) opened. TMCH allows brand owners to submit their trademark data into one centralized database, prior to and during the launch of new gTLDs. Since opening, the pace of sign-ups by both individual mark owners and agents has been rapid, ensuring the long-term success of the TMCH project.

With ICANN 47 in Durban, South Africa coming up in mid-July, many of these subjects will continue to be discussed and, hopefully, resolved in the weeks ahead.

By Roland LaPlante, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Afilias

An expert on new TLD development, LaPlante is an original member of the management team at Afilias and has over 30 years’ senior marketing experience building brands at companies like Procter and Gamble, Citibank, and McGraw-Hill.

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