Archive for September, 2012

Community support required for alternative Trademark Clearinghouse solution

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

By Chris Wright

It’s time for the community to demonstrate its resolve to see ICANN implement a successful and effective Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH).

Let’s be clear here. The current ICANN implementation model and approach is flawed and needs attention.

Following more than three months of consultation and negotiation, today I’m pleased to be able to present the domain name and trademark protection industries with an alternative solution for the operation of ICANN’s Trademark Clearinghouse for the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program.

ARI Registry Services – working in consultation with Neustar, Verisign and Demand Media – have developed three white papers for public review and comment.

The white papers outline concerns with ICANN’s current TMCH proposal and provide an alternative model that addresses those concerns whilst meeting all the requirements outlined in the Applicant Guidebook and those further stipulated by ICANN.

The white papers can be downloaded here:

1. TMCH – Issues with the ICANN Proposed Model
2. TMCH – Proposed Claims Model
3. TMCH – Proposed Sunrise Model

I urge you to please read these documents and express your support.

We need your support

The approach outlined in the white papers above offer significant advantages for both trademark owners and new TLD registries. It is our concern that ICANN is simply stubbornly sticking with its original proposal for the TMCH, even in the face of justified consistent criticism from the community.

We are now seeking action from the community on two fronts:

• Public feedback on the documents, especially from rights holders, to help us further refine the solution to meet the
needs of all; and
• Support for this alternative proposal to demonstrate to ICANN that there is a consensus for change.

I encourage everyone involved or interested in the new TLD program to review the white papers and voice your opinion on the matter to ICANN. We anticipate ICANN will publish these documents on their website in the near future to facilitate community discussion. You can express your support by communicating with ICANN through public comments, and through your relevant constituencies and stakeholder groups. There will also be significant opportunity to give feedback to ICANN during the upcoming ICANN meeting in Toronto where there are two sessions on the agenda dedicated to the TMCH.

Why is the Trademark Clearinghouse important?

The TMCH is a crucial element of the new TLD program and it will impact everyone involved in the registration and operation of new TLD domain names. We can’t afford to get this wrong.

The TMCH is a central database of verified trademark holders designed to provide enhanced rights protection mechanisms for the registration of domain names.

Put simply, the aim of the TMCH is to minimise burdens on trademark owners by allowing them to deposit their trademark data with one centralised source, rather than with each new TLD registry. The idea is for new TLD registries to cross-check domain name registrations with the centralised data from the Clearinghouse.

What’s wrong with ICANN’s TMCH proposal?

There has been considerable opposition to ICANN’s proposal for the TMCH because it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves the objectives.

As described in the white papers above, there are significant privacy and security concerns with ICANN’s current model. There are also disadvantages in ICANN’s model which prevent registries using trademark data during sunrise periods to, for example, restrict eligibility to certain classes of rights holders.

The white papers outline how ICANN can improve its model to implement a more efficient and effective system.

This cannot be a case of “we have already gone so far and don’t want to change”. The current approach is broken and requires review.

With your help we can help ICANN see reason here and consider the alternatives.

Let’s get mobilized and address this important issue.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services

Setting the GAC up to succeed

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Yasmin_OmerYasmin Omer, ARI Registry Service’s Policy and Industry Affairs Officer, explains why ICANN should offer the Governmental Advisory Committee an extra meeting in January  to avoid further delays in the new Top-Level Domain program.

ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) – the special stakeholder group responsible for providing government advice to ICANN on issues of public policy – has an important role to play in the remaining evaluation and delegation phases of the new Top-Level Domain (TLD) program.

For some applicants, the future of their new TLD projects may rest on the decisions of the 50 or so national government representatives that are active members of the GAC.

So, it is understandable that any suggestion to provide the GAC with an extra meeting to assist them in making decisions that could be fatal to the delegation of a new TLD could be met with contempt. 

However, I believe most applicants will recognise that the success of the GAC, the new TLD program and therefore applicants is one and the same.

So, why is it important for ICANN to offer the GAC an extra meeting?

The risk of delay

To put it simply, the GAC require sufficient time to complete their part of the new TLD puzzle and there are serious implications for everyone involved if they don’t.

In developing the program, ICANN built specific requirements into the process to enable members of the GAC to comment on and provide official Advice about specific applications they have concerns with.

This process comprises of: 1) A GAC Early Warning which is a notice identifying an application as potentially problematic thereby allowing the applicant to withdraw and recoup a higher percentage of the application fee; and 2) GAC Advice to the ICANN Board indicating that it is the consensus of the GAC that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN.

Whilst an Early Warning can be filed by any individual GAC member, GAC Advice requires general agreement amongst the GAC’s membership in the absence of any formal objection. Face-to-face meetings of the GAC are therefore critical in facilitating such agreement.

It’s important to remember that this is a mandatory process. No new TLDs can be delegated until the GAC provide their Advice.

As it currently stands, the GAC are scheduled to meet twice during the evaluation phase to review, collaborate and consider their potential Advice on the 1924 new TLD applications. These meetings are timed to coincide with the ICANN meetings in Toronto (October 2012) and Beijing (April 2013).

ICANN’s tentative roadmap released last month indicates GAC Early Warnings are expected in November 2012 following ICANN Toronto, and GAC Advice is expected in late April 2013 following ICANN Beijing.

With Initial Evaluation scheduled to finish in May 2013, results published in June 2013 and the first delegations to start in August 2013, there is little room to maneuver should a delay occur within the process.

This is particularly concerning as any holdup related to GAC Advice could blowout the roadmap and create another embarrassing delay at a critical juncture.

However, there is a rather simple solution.

Offer for a January GAC meeting

ICANN must offer an extra meeting to the GAC in January 2013 to allow sufficient time for members to consult with their respective governments and ensure their Advice is delivered by April 2013.

It’s simple. Applicants want ICANN to rollout the program without any further delays and ICANN has the ability to help achieve this objective by offering the GAC an extra meeting.

ICANN needs to do the right thing by the GAC because it’s highly unlikely that GAC members would have critically reviewed the 1,924 new TLD applications in consultation with key stakeholders by next month, in time for Toronto. Therefore, the Beijing meeting in April 2013 will be the first opportunity for the GAC to discuss concerns raised and agree on the provision of GAC Advice.

Restricting the discussion and agreement on GAC Advice to one meeting is inconsistent with the GAC representative’s roles; they do not operate autonomously, they need adequate time to consult with their respective governments. It is an unrealistic objective for GAC representatives that places unreasonable pressure on them.

I think a reality check is in order because government processes involve red tape, bureaucracy and multi-layered approval procedures. Further, the success of the GAC intersessional meeting held prior to the ICANN Singapore meeting last year sets a precedent for this request.

The hosting of an extra GAC meeting will give ICANN an opportunity to demonstrate it is responsive to applicant’s needs and provide greater confidence in ICANN’s ability to maintain their proposed roadmap – something all new TLD applicants will appreciate.

Whilst ICANN’s efforts in developing GAC specific processes into the new TLD program are to be commended, the current meeting schedule does not allow for collaboration in the provision of GAC Advice on new TLDs – a process that is meant to be inherently collaborative.

The last thing anyone involved in the new TLD program wants is further delays.

It is for these reasons that I urge ICANN to offer the GAC an extra meeting in January 2013 to ensure that sufficient time has been allocated to provide GAC Advice.

Not only will the GAC thank you for this, new TLD applicants will too.

By Yasmin Omer
Policy and Industry Affairs Officer at ARI Registry Services