On 7 February 2012, the ICANN Board reaffirmed ICANN's commitment to opening a second round of applications in the New gTLD Program as expeditiously as possible.
ICANN will publish a document describing the work plan required prior to initiating a second application window for the New gTLD Program.
It is not possible yet to state a specific date for the second round because of the work ICANN has committed to related to the first round. First, the applications from the first round must be processed, and the amount of applications to be received will not be known until the first-round application window ends. In addition, ICANN previously committed to addressing the recommendations of the Governmental Advisory Committee requirements for assessment of trademark protections and root zone operation as a result of the first round.
In furtherance of the resolution, after the publication of the description of the work plan, ICANN will continue working with the community to refine that work plan.
The full text of the resolution is available on ICANN's website at: http://www.icann.org/en/minutes/resolutions-07feb12-en.htm
In addition, ICANN is seeking public comment on certain trademark protections in the New gTLD Program. Some stakeholders recently indicated that there are concerns about the perceived need for "defensive" applications at the top level, and encouraged ICANN to ensure that the program was launched in a manner that protects intellectual property rights. The public comment will help ICANN clarify the scope and benefits of the available protections as well as understand and respond to specific concerns with them.
Finally, ICANN continues to push forward with its program to provide financial and other forms of assistance to qualifying applicants. Having designed an Applicant Support Program and an Applicant Assistance Handbook, ICANN is now seeking independent panel members to help make financial award decisions. Global diversity and broad sets of experiences will be required and ICANN encourages those interested to seek additional information.