Updated Applicant Guidebook provides more clarity for applicants

Published on September 26th, 2011

By Tony Kirsch

With less than 110 days to go until the application window opens, ICANN last week released the latest update of the Applicant Guidebook in conjunction with the launch of a new information portal for the new Top-Level Domain program.

Although this latest update to the Applicant Guidebook arrived later than originally expected, it is nonetheless welcome because it provides more clarity for potential applicants and reconfirms ICANN’s commitment to the 12 January commencement of the program.

Credit must be given where it’s due.

First of all, the new microsite looks great and contains all the information necessary for those unfamiliar with the new Top-Level Domain Program to get a basic understanding. Through a number of areas on the site, ICANN provides a decent summary of the hundreds of pages of industry jargon contained in the Applicant Guidebook.

By the way, make sure to check out AusRegistry International’s microsite, Beyondcom.info.
Also, the latest update to the Applicant Guidebook is relatively straight forward with no problematic inclusions or hidden surprises.

Below is my summary of the changes that are of interest:

More blocked strings – ICANN has added the measures required to address specific requests from the Red Cross and International Olympic Committee in which a series of TLDs related to these organisations will be blocked during the initial application round.

Assistance for applicants – ICANN confirmed that the Joint Applicant Support (JAS) Working Group continues to evaluate the processes for providing assistance to disadvantaged applicants. Indications are that the results of this Working Group are expected on this in the coming weeks.

Uniform Rapid Suspension System (URS) Response Fee Limits – In an adjustment to the previous version of the guidebook, ICANN has now modified the “loser pays” provision in the URS to apply to complaints involving 15 (instead of 26) or more domain names with the same registrant.

GAC Early Warning and Advice – The GAC has expressed the intention to develop a standard vocabulary and set of rules for use in providing its advice about applications for new Top-Level Domains. ICANN says this will be published in the future and there may be additional updates to reflect the terms established by the GAC.

Application window clarification – One of the more important updates relates to clarification of the User Registration and Application Submission timeframes which were confirmed to be that:

Users must register to apply within the following dates:

Opens – 00:01 UTC 12 January 2012
Closes –  23:59 UTC 29 March 2012

Once registered to apply, users must then submit their application to ICANN’s online system within the following dates:

Opens – 00:01 UTC 12 January 2012
Closes – 23:59 UTC 12 April 2012

The release of this updated version of the Applicant Guidebook is a huge step forward for ICANN and the program itself and relieves some of the scuttlebutt from within the industry that further delays may have been imminent.

It’s certainly a welcome relief for industry participants such as our organisation and the many applicants across the globe who have been diligently preparing for this (in some cases for many years). These two announcements from ICANN provide more clarity for potential applicants and remind us all that new Top-Level Domains are coming and they are coming fast.

Perhaps most importantly, at the bottom right-hand corner of the new microsite, ICANN provides the most important element of the program – something that all of us in the industry have been waiting for a very long time: “ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS IN 108 DAYS”

Throughout this process, many within the industry have been keeping sane by constantly reminding ourselves that “it will happen, and it will be worth it”.

Now it would appear that this time is only just around the corner.

In reality the application window will really just be the start of it all, and in years to come, those who have fought this journey will reflect on this time with fond memories of a time that represented both challenges and tremendous achievement.

Tony Kirsch, Top-Level Domain name specialist with AusRegistry International

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