Archive for November, 2012

First insights from the GAC Early Warnings on new Top-Level Domains

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

By Yasmin Omer

Today, the national governments that constitute ICANN’s Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) for the first time publicly voiced their concerns over specific new Top-Level Domain (TLD) applications in the form of Early Warnings.

More than 240 individual GAC Early Warnings were issued in relation to 200 new TLD applications which account for 162 unique strings.

By far the most prolific government to issue GAC Early Warnings was the Australian government with 129. This was followed by Germany with 20 and France 19.

As expected, a large number of the 240 Early Warnings related to closed generic string TLD applications (100 Early Warnings). It appears a number of governments are concerned about brands or entrepreneurs owning a specific generic word and closing the door on public registrations in these namespaces.

Early Warnings were also issued for strings that are linked to regulated market sectors, such as the financial, health and charity sectors.

The continent with the most Early Warnings was Asia Pacific (154), followed by Europe (51) and Africa (30). This is in stark contrast to the distribution of new TLD applications across the globe which saw more than 80% of applicants come from North America and Europe.

Other interesting insights include:

• Amazon (an applicant for 76 new TLDs) has received 27 GAC Early Warnings
• Google (an applicant for 98 new TLDs) has received only 5 GAC Early Warnings
• 19 IDN new TLD applications received a GAC Early Warning
• DotConnectAfrica’s application for .africa received 17 Early Warnings. UniForum SA’s application for .africa received no Early Warnings.
• Despite being very vocal regarding their objections to certain strings, Saudi Arabia cannot participate in the Early Warning process as they are not a member of the GAC.

Below is an image which provides an overview of the distribution of GAC Early Warnings.

A GAC Early Warning is a mechanism by which the national government representatives who comprise the GAC can signal their potential concerns with specific new TLD applications that are controversial or sensitive. Receipt of a GAC Early Warning allows an applicant to be eligible to receive an 80% refund of their application fee.

Many Early Warnings offer remediation steps to be taken by the applicant which may appease any concerns the governments have. However, applicants are not obliged to take any action.

GAC Early Warnings are a pathway to formal GAC Advice to the ICANN Board in April 2013 following ICANN Beijing. GAC Advice requires consensus of the GAC and may indicate that a particular application should not proceed which almost certainly means an application will not be approved by ICANN. The biggest question moving forward will be how exactly consensus will be reached.  Watch this space!

While many applicants were nervously anticipating the announcement of today’s Early Warnings, the majority of applicants will be pleased with the results. Next hurdle: GAC Advice in April 2013.

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

NOTE: Every effort has been made to accurately report the statistics in this blog. However, some statistics may need to be updated with further analysis

Brussels mandate: Community-developed TMCH gains ascendancy

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

By Chris Wright

ICANN has tentatively agreed to proceed with the community-developed Trademark Clearinghouse (TMCH) model following two days of discussions at a specially organised informal meeting in Brussels last week.

I believe this is an important breakthrough for the intellectual property, registry and registrar communities as it provides the best harmony between technical implementation and best practice trademark protection policy.

While it is yet to be ratified, the decision to support the processes described in the community TMCH model paves the way for discussions to now focus on how to technically implement this model.

The extraordinary and somewhat unprecedented level of collaboration and negotiation from all parties involved in the TMCH discussions over the past four months warrants congratulation, as does the leadership of ICANN CEO Fadi Chehadé who has been instrumental in facilitating this agreement.

The Brussels TMCH mandate

Just weeks after holding productive workshops at ICANN 45 in Toronto, representatives from the intellectual property and business constituencies, registries, registrars and senior ICANN representatives gathered again in Brussels on 1 and 2 November to negotiate a solution to the stalemate over exactly how the TMCH should be implemented.

The aim of the meeting was to discuss issues related to the implementation of the TMCH as it is described in the Guidebook. This excluded all policy related issues regarding rights protection mechanisms outside of what has already been agreed upon in the Guidebook.

At the top of the agenda were talks to find agreement about which TMCH model best serves the interests of stakeholders – the original ICANN model or the recently published alternative community-developed model.

Concerns have been raised about the feasibility of the original ICANN model. I, and a number of other registries and registrars, have been vocal opponents of ICANN’s original TMCH model because we believe it is too complex and burdensome in the way it achieves its objectives.

In September, we released three whitepapers which described the flaws associated with ICANN’s model and offered an overview of why the community-developed implementation model would achieve the same objectives without these burdens.

After many hours of deliberation, agreement was formed to support the community-developed model and proceed with discussions about how to technically implement it.

The next step

The decision to move forward with the community-developed model means we are now one (big) step closer to building a fully functional TMCH in time for the first delegation of new Top-Level Domains (TLD) which is set to occur in 2013.

This should come as welcome news to all new TLD applicants.

As agreed in Brussels last week, the next step in this process will be a meeting in Los Angeles on 15 and 16 of November to finalise the technical details of the implementation of the TMCH. These details have been missing from all previous discussions because of the lack of certainty about which model would be utilised.

Now that there is agreement on the implementation as described in the community-developed model, we can proceed with discussions about the nitty-gritty technical details involving the integration between registries, registrars and the clearinghouse provider.

Following the Los Angeles meeting, work will begin on writing the TMCH implementation specifications. ICANN will then finalise contractual agreements with the TMCH provider in anticipation of go-live shortly thereafter.

This is a remarkable turnaround in events considering the entire new TLD program was at risk if a workable solution could not be found. There is now light at the end of the tunnel and this is credit to the extensive collaboration that has been seen throughout the development of the TMCH.

Congratulations to everyone involved and well done. We are nearly there.

By Chris Wright
Chief Technology Officer at ARI Registry Services