Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers

How to Apply for a New Generic Top-Level Domain Draft Applicant Guidebook Now Available for Comment | New Names will Change the Face of the Internet through Innovation, Choice and Diversity

23 October 2008

Marina del Rey, CA

A draft 'Applicant Guidebook' for new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), is now available for review and comment at http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtlds/comments-en.htm. The draft Guidebook provides information for those interested in applying for new generic top-level domains.

"Since ICANN was founded 10 years ago, one of the foundational principles has been to support competition and consumer choice in generic top-level domains. That competition is meant to promote innovation and enhance user choice and satisfaction" said Dr Paul Twomey, ICANN's President and Chief Executive Officer.

"The Internet has produced great openness and innovation that has led to changes few of us imagined. The effect of opening up the top-level of the domain system will enable more innovation and entrepreneurial applications" he said.

"One huge area of potential innovation will be applications for names that are in non-Roman characters, or Internationalized Domain Names (IDNs). Currently there are only 21 generic top-level names and they are all in characters that look like English. There are 1.5 billion Internet users and many non-English speakers will have the opportunity to express the whole of a domain name in characters that look like their language," Dr Twomey said.

The draft Applicant Guidebook and accompanying material will be made available in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish according to ICANN's translation policy. The modules contain information on the evaluation fee, the application process and evaluation criteria, as well as background material.

Designed to accompany the draft Applicant Guidebook is a set of Explanatory Memoranda that are intended to assist understanding of the implementation work for new gTLDs. In addition, two new papers: "Cost Considerations of the new gTLDs Program" and "Summary of Changes to Base Agreement for New gTLDs" are also being released and complete the explanatory memoranda.

Amongst the 6 modules and over 200 pages of the draft Guidebook and Memoranda, some key areas of interest are:

  • How contested strings (or names) will be determined;
  • How applications for geographic names will be considered;
  • Technical requirements for new names that encompass internationalized domain names;
  • The rights of intellectual property holders;
  • How morality and public order objections can be raised;
  • The cost of the evaluation process and how it is constructed.

There will be two comment periods of 45 days each. Every Government in the world is being sent a letter to draw their attention to the draft and the draft Guidebook remains subject to further consultation and revision.

"There has already been robust discussion and consultation regarding many phases of the new gTLD implementation plan, but this is the first opportunity to consider the application and evaluation processes as a whole," Dr Twomey said. "There's been a lot of thought involved in producing the draft Guidebook and we've used best practice and outside experts to assist us in developing the application process. Now is the time for close scrutiny, questions and input that will shape the end result and make it stronger," he said.

Detailed Information on some key issues:

Evaluation Fee

The Evaluation Fee is designed to make the new gTLD program self-funding only. This was a recommendation of the Generic names Supporting Organization (GNSO). A detailed costing methodology – including historical program development costs, and predictable and uncertain costs associated with processing new gTLD applications through to delegation in the root zone – estimates a per applicant fee of $US185,000. This is the estimated cost per evaluation in the first application round.

The total fee per applicant takes into account close to $US13 million invested by ICANN since October 2007 to put the design of the implementation program in place. It includes allocated staff time, direct consulting expenses and other fixed costs. This cost will be allocated across the new gTLD applications until it is reclaimed and amounts to $US26,000.

The fee also includes $US100,000 per applicant relating to both fixed and variable costs of processing each application.

A final element of the evaluation fee is a provision for risks related to non-standard processing of applications, or the application and evaluation process. An analysis of these and other risk elements performed by independent specialist, Willis Inc, the world's third largest insurance broker and risk consultant. This analysis identified approximately $US60, 000 to be allocated to each application.

It is possible ICANN will over-collect or under-collect for the first round of applications. If fee collection exceeds ICANN expenses, the community will be consulted as to how that excess is to be used.

A detailed outline of the Evaluation Fee and other financial consideration are detailed in the Explanatory Memoranda paper: "Cost Considerations for New Top-Level Domains" [PDF, 517K].

Protection of Rights Holders in new gTLDs

The introduction of New gTLDs is consistent with protecting the rights of trademark holders, communities and other rights holders against abusive registration tactics and infringement. ICANN has sought input from numerous businesses, governments and the intellectual property community to devise an approach to protecting the rights of third parties.

The plan outlined in the Applicant Guidebook (and corresponding Explanatory Memoranda) addresses rights protection issues at both the top-level and the second-level of the domain name space.

At the top-level, ICANN is implementing an objection-based process for dispute resolution where rights holders can assert that proposed gTLD strings would infringe their legal rights based upon generally accepted and internationally recognized principles of law. This process is also being developed with the understanding that it is also not unusual to have a trademark in the same word or phrase for different products or services or registered in different jurisdictions.

At the second-level, ICANN is implementing a process where new gTLD applicants are required to describe their Rights Protection Mechanism (RPM) within their applications. These RPMs will be published to the community at the time applications are also made public. All new gTLDs will be subject to ICANN's existing and successful Uniform Dispute Resolution Policy (http://www.icann.org/en/udrp/#udrp).

Dispute Resolution Providers

To resolve disputes in a timely and independent fashion ICANN has established relationships with internationally recognized dispute resolution providers to administrate the dispute resolution processes called for as part of ICANN's evaluation of new gTLD applications. Three providers have been selected to provide expertise to ICANN relating to the evaluation of the applications: The Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization; The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC); and, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR).

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has agreed in principle to administer disputes brought pursuant to Morality and Public Order Objections and Community Objections. The ICC is a world-renowned dispute resolution provider based in Paris, France.

The Arbitration and Mediation Center of the World Intellectual Property Organization has agreed in principle to administer disputes brought pursuant to Legal Rights Objections. The WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, based in Geneva, Switzerland, was established in 1994 to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options for the resolution of international commercial disputes between private parties.

Finally, the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR) has agreed in principle to administer disputes relating to String Confusion Objections. The ICDR, based in New York, NY, United States, has many cooperative agreements with arbitral institutions around the world for facilitating the administration of its international cases.

New gTLDs and the Internet
Openness Change Innovation

After years of discussion and thought, new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) are being expanded. They will allow for more innovation, choice and change to a global Internet presently served by only 21 generic top-level domain names.

As a not for profit corporation dedicated to coordinating the Internet's addressing system, ICANN is not doing this to add to its revenue.  An implementation plan is being developed with opportunities for public comment.  There will be processes for objections. There has also been detailed technical scrutiny to ensure the Internet's stability and security. There will be an evaluation fee but it will recover costs only (expenses so far, application processing and anticipated legal costs). Many thousands of people representing organizations as diverse as domain name registries and registrars, businesses, engineers, scientists, governments, user, academics, and the legal fraternity have contributed.

Promoting competition and choice is one of the principles upon which ICANN was founded. In a world with 1.5 billion Internet users (and growing), diversity, choice and innovation are key. The Internet has supported huge increases in choice, innovation and the competition of ideas. Expanding new gTLDs provides further opportunities.

Find out detail at: http://www.icann.org/en/topics/new-gtld-program.htm

Openness Change Innovation

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Media Contacts:

Jason Keenan
Media Advisor, ICANN
P: +1 310 382 4004
E: jason.keenan@icann.org

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